Are you afraid of cheetahs? I asked my brother. Before he could answer, the pickup truck took off in the dark night, moving fast over a bumpy, rocky dirt road. We started rolling around over two or three suitcases that were on the back of the truck. I was trying to forget the many facts in my head: Cheetahs are predators on the very top of the food chain with no natural predator above them, except man. They hunt at night, they are the fastest cat in the wild. They are two times bigger than me. I was 11 years old and my brother 8, neither of us were bigger than 80 lbs then. We could be cheetah’s dinner.
It was cold. Actually we were freezing, probably more of terror than anything else. My dad had landed his little airplane in the middle of nowhere. He knew where we were and the pickup truck knew where to find us. The three adults took the front seat, my brother and I took the back of the truck. Remember back in the 70’s there were no seat belts, no safety, no psychology and kids had the choice of being strong and survive or being strong and survive. So we chose to survive. Easy choice!
We felt every rock on the way to our destination. On the left side of my vision there were many trees and on the other side the open sky. I tried to watch and see if any freaking cheetah would jump on us from those trees, I couldn’t see a thing, it was too dark. Got lost watching millions of stars and again remembered to stay on duty and watch for cheetahs. We banged on the window asking “How much longer?” They shrugged. I don’t think anyone was as worried as me. After that long, super long drive we finally arrived at the house where we were staying.
Back then I asked God “How in the world did I get placed in this family?” Why was my dad always taking us to jungles, to rivers, to falls, to darkness, to wild animals? He was a veterinarian with an Indiana Jones spirit, plus family on the side. We didn’t live in the wild, but we sure visited it more than I could care. I knew I’d grow up and live in a super big city where I didn’t have to watch for cheetahs. But back then I didn’t know that every one of those crazy trips would make me who I am today.
Yes I grew up and became “refined”, educated, obsessed with art, museums and history, learned a few languages, graduated and found a job. Had kids… And guess what? I took them back to the wild! Today they love climbing waterfalls and diving with sharks. Somehow I became a little of my dad. Somehow we all turned out to be adventurous and I can not imagine life any other way.