Antelopes are elegant, shy, sharp, reclusive and very beautiful. With their big ears they hear you before they see you and they jump off into the wilderness as soon as you move a step closer. For the last few weeks a young bushbuck has been roaming the grounds in front of my house and I marvel at her beauty, wishing I could be just like her. Other guests include Blue Monkies, Black-and-white Colobus, snakes and baboons. The latter often sneak into my house and indulge on food leftovers before I chase them out in a fury.
In the mornings I wake up to the sound of birdsong and, quite often, another sound awakes me, the high-pitched screams of chimpanzees living in the treetops. It is strange how the presence of so much life changes your relation to nature. You realize quickly that you are not the most important person around and that you inhabit a space that you are not supposed to inhabit. We are just visitors in this big wilderness and we try to clear paths that will only disappear in a few years time. It becomes most evident when you cut your way through the dense forest and you encounter the most majestic of all creatures, the Mountain Gorilla. The epitome of kindess and love, they are the reason why Virunga National Park exists, and a good reason it is.
But, apart from all the wonderful creatures that live here, it is mainly the golden light of Africa that enchants me. When, in the evenings, it stubbornly tries to make its way through the jungle and manages to cast its last sunrays through my window, filling the house with an orange glow that seems to cover up all wounds. When the light lays a warm blanket over the valley, you can’t help but believe it will all be okay in the end, this country will heal. However long it may take, it’s a nice dream to believe in.