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The Investment Coach

Opinion: Finding the Garden of Eden

In early October, 2021, this writer and five other vaccinated travelers traveled in East Africa on a safari-oriented adventure dubbed “Tanzania─Serengeti to Zanzibar.” “Safari” comes from the Arabic root verb, safara, meaning to unveil, hence to discover or to embark on a journey. Organized by American tour operator Tauck, the experience was rife with discovery, highlighted by spectacular wonders of nature and creation.

Exploration started in Arusha in northern Tanzania, not far from Mt. Kilimanjaro. Traveling with a buddy from Lake Oconee, Ga., on day two we went hiking in the lushness of Arusha National Park. Accompanied by an armed ranger, we were surrounded by amazing scenery with wild animals in their natural element. Joining four other adventurers and our Tauck guides, on day three we traveled west toward the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Along the way we visited a remote Maasai village. The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley. A tall and regal people, they are known for colorful dress and the belief that cattle represent wealth.

Walking around the village, a Maasai warrior explained the benefits of various trees, bushes and other plants used for food, medicine and ornamentation. We go to the drug store, supermarket and Amazon. The Maasai are deeply in touch with nature. That was the first time I thought about the Garden of Eden where everything needed was in natural abundance.

The floor of the Ngorongoro Crater is a relatively level 127-square-mile expanse situated 2,000 feet below the bowl-shaped rim of its steep-walled crater. It’s home to over 25,000 animals; herds of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, impalas, Cape buffalo; hippos, elephants, lions, hyenas and other predators; exotic and colorful birds. As humans confined to our pop-up top vehicles, we were the ones in a cage of sorts. For early hunter-gatherer humans, Ngorongoro was a supermarket supreme!

Further west lies Olduvai Gorge, a deep ravine, one of the foremost paleontology sites in the world. Annual rains and floods wash away layers of rock and soil to reveal fossils of long extinct beasts and hominids. Here the British team of Mary and Louis Leakey added to our knowledge of human development. Homo habilis first occupied the gorge about 1.9 million years ago (mya). Homo eructus showed up 1.2 mya, while “late-arriving” Homo sapiens, emerging roughly 300,000 years ago, peopled the gorge 17,000 years ago. Listening to our guide outline time frames while overlooking the cut in the earth, the mysteries of creation and the power of God who transcends human time came to mind.

Our trip continued into the 5,700-square-mile Serengeti National Park. The Maasai called it Siringet, meaning “endless plains.” The diverse landscape features grasslands, woodlands, exotic trees, bushes, hills, rivers, waterholes, marshes, rocky outcroppings as dens and havens for animals. To see with one’s eyes a vast expanse with myriad animals, birds and reptiles in their natural habitat surpasses anything viewed on film, television or the internet. The purity of the air, the wind and breezes, daytime heat, nighttime cooling as thunderstorms coming off of Lake Victoria rumble and reverberate across the plains, stunning sunsets and starry nights, add to the magnificence.

Yes, there’s discomfort at times. Bouncing around on rutted dirt and rocky tracks, dust and tsetse flies in some locales, can be bothersome, but it’s worth it. October in the Serengeti is spring and you’ll see mothers with youngsters ─ baby elephants, monkeys, baboons, lions, hippos, giraffes, various antelope species, buffalo, wildebeests, warthogs, etc. The song from the movie “The Lion King,” “The Circle of Life,” comes to mind, along with thoughts about the Garden of Eden.

Most Biblical scholars theorize that the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are today. But a Garden of Eden of sorts easily could have been in the Great Rift Valley and the rich geographical diversity of that part of Africa. The Bible declares that when sin and disobedience entered into paradise, Adam and Eve were banned from the peaceful garden. There are places in Africa and elsewhere, including here at home, where it’s hazardous to venture. But consider yourself blessed if you have the wherewithal to travel to the wild and beautiful places on our planet to witness God’s artistry up close and personal. In your personal financial planning, that’s something to shoot for!

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a life centered financial planning strategist with Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553; Securities & advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA, otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He’s a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and Certified Exit Planning Advisor.