The Essence of Nature – Pyramids of Life

Tightening of shoelaces, the smell of fresh unwritten paper, doodling to check the pen works, that fast walk that isn’t a run yet. Chefs, mess attendants, guides, drivers all gather round to read the schedule that Roisin has just hung on the news board. “Pyramids of Life” is starting.

Chris Stamper and Clint Schipper arrive to the dining deck with a smile on their faces, and the familiarity of someone who just arrived at an old friend’s house. They share some laughs with Adrian and Rosh, we talk about expectations, the itinerary – always leaving room for change, as Serian’s flexibility is our most valuable asset.

The time comes to present themselves. Chris and Clint both concentrate on one lesson: “Pyramids of Life” is here so that everyone learns something from each other, teamwork at its best. It’s a horizontal way of learning: it’s sharing.

Of course at the beginning everyone is a bit shy. With power-forces like Chris, Clint, Adrian and Roisin leading the way it is hard not to be intimidated. Each of them in their field is someone to be reckoned with. But pole pole the students start opening up, asking questions and telling stories. It’s not long until one of them becomes the teacher, the mwalimu, bringing back memories of their life and making the experience richer.

 

The essence of “Pyramids of Life” is the links that keep nature together and working like an orchestra: we all depend on each other – every living organism in this world. Balance, harmony: imperfect perfection. Everyone is on this boat for the same reason, trying to understand Mother Nature and unravel her mindboggling behaviors. Birds that migrate from Alaska to Kenya, antelopes big and small sticking together for protection, an extensive pride of lions dividing to be more effective when looking for food. Links, associations, “why” and “because” in the same sentence… This is learning; this is “Pyramids of Life”: this is Serian.

And we get out of the car. On foot we search for the small details that make up the big picture: we smell, we touch, we watch. Laying flat on the floor searching for answers, finding questions. Like a group of detectives at a crime scene we analyze the physical evidence: what happened here? What is the story behind this? This evidence is not of major importance to the naked eye, but we are working with 16 pairs of eagle eyes, with years of experience in our backpacks, with the one and most illuminating virtue: curiosity. Following tracks, interpreting nature, surrounded by an electric brainstorm we conclude: he went that way.

Ladies and gentlemen, against everything you were taught: knowledge is in fact, palpable. There he is, our victim, our perpetrator, our crime scene in a noun: a bull elephant bathing in the banks of the Mara River. This is what we do and at the same time why we do it, to stand in front of this beautiful beast in silence and share the moment, knowing that we deciphered the signs that nature laid down for us.

Class dismissed.

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Photo Credits: Rachel Ambrose, Gerard Ambrose, Andrew Brown, Eliza Deacon, Peter Haygarth, John Moller, Paul Sheen, Angus O'Shea, Roisin Perret, Anup Shah, Manoj Shah & Alex Walker.
Copy by: Robyn-Lee Ghaui
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