Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

I scattered Polly's ashes from my open passenger window, toward the lioness and her three cubs lazing in the grass, but as a mighty wind blew across the savanna...she rushed right back into the vehicle, onto our driver's lap. (He didn't seem to notice.) 

We spent a full day in the Ngorongro Crater, which translates as "Gift of Life," named by the Maasai people who live in the surrounding area. The crater itself resulted from a volcanic explosion 3 millions years ago and holds 25,000 large animals, as a sort of eco-cradle. After a bumpy drive down to its grassy center, our guide cut the engine and told my husband and me to stand up soak it all in: wildebeests grunting loudly, water buffalo staring rudely, zebras showing off their stripes, black rhinos (only 37 remain) trying not to go extinct, elephants swinging their trunks, hippos hanging in the water...you get the idea.

The animal kingdom in all its glory. What better creature to spot but the king of the kingdom, and his queen, and their cubs. We pulled alongside a litter of big kitties and I quietly placed Polly on the roof of the vehicle, holding my breath as I focused my camera on her safari hat, and one very large cat posing behind her. Thunderclouds were rolling in and the wind was really picking up. My husband was terrified about her rolling off the truck. After a few shots, I carefully grabbed her and sat down. The rain was starting to pelt our open vehicle, the wind was growing stronger. The lions were beginning to stir. It was now or never: I quickly unscrewed her urn and sprinkled her remains toward the majestic animals. Just then, a gust lifted her up, and sucked her back in through the driver-side window. But for just a moment, Polly was outside with those lions, one with the animal kingdom.                

(Photo & Post: Barbara P.)

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