Friday, April 9, 2010

Magic in the Mist

"When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future."

That sentence was the last entry of Dian Fossey's journal - found in the cabin where she was murdered in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda - where she lived with, studied and protected the mountain gorillas for twenty years.

I think the quote is appropriate for this country, on this week of mourning the Genocide, and for Fossey, who provided in life and legacy for the preservation of the gorillas she loved so dearly.

It was a great privilege to hike up into the Virunga Volcanoes this week to witness the grace and grandeur of those massive, magical creatures. For one hour, I stood face to face - often just two feet away - from the gorillas: mothers nursing their babies, adolescents play fighting, twin babies picking the bugs off one another, Silverback leaders feeding and surveying their families. As I was granted a tiny glimpse into their lives, I started to see what it means when scientists say that 98% of their DNA is identical to ours.

We were with the Susa Group - the same family of about thirty gorillas with whom Fossey lived, and descendants of the same. The same group you may have seen in the movie Gorillas In The Mist. They looked straight into your eyes. And they were as gentle as they were giant.

There are just 700 of these majestic creatures left on our planet.


  1. Gorgeous. I need to rent that movie. It's sad that all a lot of us know about Rwanda (and most of the rest of the world) is from movies.

  2. How awesome that you got to see that up close and personal.

    You are on an adventure of a lifetime. Thank youfor letting us share it with you.

  3. The DNA thing, I'm sure it's true. I recognized several of your mom's relatives in the pictures!


  4. Amazing.. I was at the national zoo last week, and we were visiting the gorilla's, when suddenly one of them jumped up and ran to the window..pounded on it furiously.. then retreated quietly to the corner with his back facing us. It was the first time I felt really sad for them.. can you imagine being locked up in a cage having people invade your privacy everyday? It is so nice to see those gorilla's in your pictures roaming free..they seem so happy..

  5. WOW! I bet you will never forget this experience! Thanks for sharing it w. us. Loved Fossey's quotation.

  6. Wow, that is absolutely amazing. What a chance of a lifetime. I would love to be able to do that. I can't imagine the beauty and majesty, the pictures can't be nearly as good as the real thing. Thank you so much for sharing an awesome adventure.

  7. Amanda, you are truly on the adventure of a lifetime. I think it's amazing what you are learning and experiencing every moment. I am with you in spirit and prayer. You are a strong one!

  8. Obviously you knew I was going to write it here, too, sister.

    Me: Oh my gosh! Sister was two feet away from gorillas, play fighting and nursing their babies!

    Craig: What? Who was she fighting with? And how was she NURSING THEIR BABIES?

    Me: Well, honey.

  9. Amanda, gorgeous pictures, amazing post. What a wonderful adventure to have amidst all the hard work you are doing. Glennon, perfect example for a new version of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." :)

  10. Glennon, that is hilarious. Sounds like Craig has been attending too many networking events.

    Amanda, looking forward to hearing about your journey and the amazing work you're doing over the next several months. John Francis is lonely though, he's already asked if he can sleep on our couch twice over the last week.

    Joey and I miss you already. More posts please.

  11. I one dated a guy that looked a whole lot like those gorillas...silver hair on the back and all.

  12. Love the quote. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us!

  13. This is ridiculous. I love you. I can picture Glennon really loving the pictures of you sitting two feet away from a large, strong, wild animal...but also not really loving it so much. Ha. Kidding G. Mandy, you are courageous, smart and lucky. I love reading this stuff...more, more, more.

    Have you seen the movie Instinct with Anthony Hopkins? You should go to the Blockbuster over there and grab it. It's about an doctor/anthropologist who goes missing b/c he wants to spend his life living with those apes (in Rwanda!)...and ends up killing a few park rangers and poachers who threaten the safety of the gorillas. Man I could picture you sitting on John's couch and crying A LOT when you watch this.

  14. DOYLE!

    Wow - gorillas in the mist...what a day you must have had! wish I was there with you but this blog is 2nd place to that for sure.

    You are really taking so many people with you on this experience throughout Wanda. Sign me up...want to be there and have these life changing times with you.

    I hope you are enjoying every single minute there - with the people, the children, the sights and keep up the's beautiful and touching. Loving every word and story.

    Miss you (I can't stop writing that - so true!) and love you tons.


  15. I lived in Rwanda when I was a teenager. My parents taught at a university which was off the main road between Gisenyi and Ruengeri. I got to see the gorillas while we were there and that was absolutely amazing. An absolute highlight of my life. We were actually there for the filming of Gorilla's in the Mist too. We lived just down the road from Roz Carr so we actually got to meet the actors, etc. I was even an extra in the movie. :) Very exciting for a 12 year-old. Anyway, I will definitely bookmark your blog! So great to be reading about my beloved Rwanda.