The open-air safari vehicle rattled along the golden dirt S-28 road, in Kruger National Park. As the wind whistled through the golden grass, I reached out my arm, letting the grass brush against my palm as I passed it by. Even though I was shaded by the canvas roof from the bright African sun, small beads of sweat balled up, resting on my upper lip. The heat was suffocating for the other tourists in the vehicle, fanning themselves with leaflets from the information centre, but I thrived in the heat, it was bliss. As I wiped my upper lip, the truck came to a rolling stop. I looked to the driver, he was staring to the right of the vehicle and, there they were, hyenas.
I marvelled at these seemingly ugly creatures. For as long as I could remember they had been deemed as nasty evil characters. What I saw before me, was not so evil, but a curious creature. Their appearance wasn’t so frightening. Beneath the long fur dark spots covered their flesh. My eyes watched their every movement. These were not evil creatures, merely one of Africa’s most common predators. A face only a mother could love, but I found myself caught up in their unusual beauty. The dark lines around their mouths almost gave them a permanent smile.
They came closer to the truck. I stared down at them as they stared up at me inquisitively. As their big deep brown eyes stared directly into my soul, I felt shame for stereotyping them all my life, because for here was a creature to be marvelled, with profound unseen beauty, if you chose to see. A curious and strong creature who in that moment spoke to my soul and it felt like it was asking me to see the beauty. I let out a deep breath and knew with every fibre of my being that this, right now, was the best place on earth.