Before the millennium turned, when the Year 2000 virus was going to be the end as we knew it, I was hiking in Zimbabwe far enough away I had thought from the clutches of the Windows breakdown. I was simply wandering, looking for some petroglyphs that I had heard were in the area but had no idea where I was really going.
It was winter in Zim, the sky was a clear blue and the grass was tall. The temperature was neither cold nor hot but the sun was warm on my face and arms and my legs felt light. Zimbabwe wasn't the hell it is now. Rumblings of the forthcoming disaster we now see were being heard in the beer halls across the country, but at the time they were only rumblings, like a terrible storm or story in the distance.
Wandering through the savannah I came across some locals on the path and they asked me where I was going. I mentioned the petroglyphs and they told me to follow them as they were on their way and said that I was a little silly walking out there.
"Why," I asked.
"Because there are lions in this area," was their matter of fact answer.
Suddenly every Acacia tree became the perfect shading spot for a group of lions to rest and I realized just how long the grass was.
Now a bit nervous I asked, "How far are the petroglyphs?"
"No, not far," was their response as they went on talking about life.
As we walked they explained to me more about the rumblings I had heard in the beer halls. About how people who weren't from Mugabe's tribe were being sent to fight in the neighbouring Congo, essentially with a one-way ticket.
Still we walked and still the acacia trees looked like perfect places for an ambush.
Not wanting to be a pain, I asked them if they had been walking long.
"No, not far," was again their response.
We continued through the savannah and while the acacia trees never stopped looking dangerous, my impromptu guides pointed out animals hidden in the long grass that I would have never seen. After what seemed like a few hours we arrived to the clutch of huge boulders where the petroglyphs were. A quick goodbye and my new found friends, who had invited me for drinks in their village later, were about to leave when I asked them if I would have to walk to get there.
"No, not far," they smiled and walked off.
I thought about it for a second and realized, really did it matter? When traveling it is often the journey that is more interesting than the destination.