“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
– Roald Dahl
Text & Photographs Elzanne McCulloch
From the Summer 2022/2023 issue
I embarked on a new adventure this year. Probably my most daunting and most exciting to date. Raising a tiny human.
Every step of the journey has not only been eye-opening, but a game of comparison between how I used to see the world and what it looks like now. Through slightly blurry eyes and highly heightened senses (hormones), the world around me seems to glow with a new sense of awe and wonder.
And there is this intense excitement brewing inside in the knowledge that I get to share this place I love with such a fiery passion with my tiny human. He will see, hear, taste, smell, experience, wonder and get to know Namibia (and the world) from scratch. What an incredible adventure that must be!
The first thing I learned was that raising a tiny human is an incredibly humbling experience. The equivalent to standing at the bottom of a towering red ochre sand dune in Sossusvlei and looking up, up, up. Am I ready for the climb? Will I make it? I hear the view from above is indescribable.
The second thing you learn is that tiny humans are a species unto themselves. They have their own way of operating as they figure out the world around them. I kept comparing it to the awesome sight of a giraffe calf getting up on extremely wobbly legs after it had dropped into the world with a decidedly dramatic entrance. A few minutes after such a traumatic introduction to the universe it slowly and shakily gets up and sets off after its mother, starting a beautiful life of nibbling on nebrownii bushes and their beautiful yellow flowers and meandering across Etosha’s vast white expanse.
Third on the list is that moment you realise that this tiny human is in fact… a human. A person with thoughts and ideas, likes and dislikes. They seem strange to you because they are so very different from you (even though you created them). Isn’t it wonderful to meet new people? To get to know them, their interests and idiosyncrasies? Namibia’s diverse cultures are a melting pot of faces, ideas, creativity and delightful personalities. Something they all seem to have in common is a welcoming spirit. But their lives differ vastly and it is one of my absolutely favourite experiences to get to sit around a dinner table, a campfire or anywhere else for that matter and have chats. Listen to stories. The beauty of oral tradition and getting to know new people. Looking beyond yourself and your own views of the world and truly attempting to understand and appreciate those of others.
Curiosity, that eager desire to learn, is such an enriching trait. Above all, tiny humans are inherently curious. That curiosity will serve them so well in a wondrous place such as Namibia. With new trees, new birds, new animals to discover around each bend. Rocks, bugs, geckos, grasses, mountains, anthills, holes, leaves, clouds, flowers. I could go on forever. Can you imagine the excitement and joy of being young and curious and having this plethora of discoveries at your fingertips. If for no other reason, fuelling the fire of youthful curiosity, discovery and learning is the best gift you can ever give your tiny humans. Experiences linger in the heart, mind and soul long after physical things have lost their shine.
Africa, and Namibia, has long been seen as not being a particularly “child-friendly” holiday destination. Fed by old tales of wildlife and danger around every bush, Africa is no longer the ‘dark continent’ of Wilbur Smith novels. Tourism operators and lodges have also become more welcoming and encouraging of little guests. Though some of the higher-end establishments still have a minimum age limit (understably), there are many options for families looking to discover Namibia’s wilderness and freedom together.
So bring your tiny humans along on your adventure through Namibia. They will learn about the importance and wonders of nature, and in the process they will teach you to look at the world with glittering eyes. There’s definitely more magic to be found in the wilderness than in any other kingdom…