Flat-top mountains, red with rocky Mohawks. Hills with boulder rims just below round bold tops that remind me of Catholic monks’ heads. Blond grass on burnt-sienna fields rich with iron. Brilliant blue skies with pinches of stark-white clouds. I am in Africa.

You’d think a twenty seven-hour flight, with a layover in Abu Dhabi, would suck me dry of excitement, but no. Falling asleep was made extremely difficult by a magnificent array of saris of every imaginable color flashing before my eyes. Though half way in dreamland, I was still pumped up. Arriving in South Africa’s Johannesburg airport at nine in the evening didn’t strike my travel mates as an important enough reason to stop and sleep, so we drove. All through the night. All the way to Karoo National Park.

“Monkeys!” I must have dozed off in the car. Bright light pierced my eyes, but the call made me want to fight through the pain. Something didn’t make sense. What monkeys? It’s freezing cold… “Sarit, monkeys!” I tore open my watering eyes and there they were – flashing us their red behinds, velvet monkeys climbing roadside trees and bushes. I dared not fall asleep until we reached the park gates.