African Sunset

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Monday, October 4, 2004

Yesterday we scattered some of Mike's ashes along the banks of the Luangwa River at Nkwali Lodge, near the South Luangwa National Park in northeastern Zambia. This was one of Mike's favourite places to sit after work, have a cold beer and watch the sunset. And what a superbly beautiful spot he chose! Hippos burbling in the muddy water below, crocodiles gliding effortlessly on the current, elephant and impala coming down to drink after the intense heat of the afternoon, and Bateleur eagles soaring overhead. We are so glad that we came to Zambia to see where Mike had been flying and living his dream, to meet with his colleagues and friends, and to try and find some peace and closure. We realize that we are only at the start of a long, slow, and painful process, but we know that this was the right place for us to begin.

As he was growing up, Mike heard lots of stories from us about our days in Tanzania where we met and worked back in the early seventies. After we spent four years living in Sri Lanka in the late eighties, he resolved that one day he would travel to Africa to find out for himself about its irresistible charm and fascination. It wasn't long after he arrived in Southern Africa last November that he was totally captivated, and his e-mails reflected his love of the people, culture, game parks and opportunities for travel and adventure. How ironic that he died in Africa where we first met, and that we heard the news of his death while travelling in Peru - Mike's birthplace. Full circle, indeed.

The Memorial Service held at Trinity United Church of Zambia, in Lusaka on October 1st, was another experience which surrounded us with support and love. His colleagues from Airwaves Airlink and many other friends joined with us in celebrating his life, and then at a reception shared more poignant and often amusing stories of their time with Mike over the past nine months. It was very moving to be with such fine people who had very quickly become his good and trusted friends - people from a variety of countries and all walks of life.

Later, as we visited South Luangwa where Mike flew charter clients, it very quickly became apparent why he loved to work in the area. Besides the abundance and rich diversity of the bird, animal and plant life of the game park, there was an amazing sense of caring community that encompassed us for every hour of the day. It was so reminiscent of our time in Tanzania, and was a truly special visit. Our particular thanks to everyone who was so generous and welcoming at Robin Pope Safaris at Nkwali Lodge, and also at Remote Africa Safaris Tafika Camp. We will certainly be back to visit another day.

We leave Zambia determined to pick up the broken threads of our lives, and to continue with our travels. It will take us a while to get back on track, but Mike would have it no other way. Meanwhile, we will be trying to respond personally to all the messages of support that we have received. However, the numbers have been overwhelming so it will take us quite some time. Please be patient with us.

"Mike, you were a fine, talented young man, and an inspiration to us all. You were deservedly well loved, and will be sorely missed by many whose hearts you touched. Go soar with the eagles, touch the face of God, and watch over us mere mortals left behind".
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