Wild Territories

Margaret Marsh, M.Arch ’18

As the culmination of a year-long ecology course, my high school class trekked through South Africa. The trip was three weeks, and we spent each week in a different ecosystem: a wildlife wetlands, a dry safari country, and the mountains. Accompanied by a guide and a tribesman armed with a rifle, we slept in the open, well-aware of the lions and impalas that shared the space. In both the wetlands and desert, animal territory controlled our path. We dodged a mother rhino and her baby while hiding in brush full of biting fire ants. As an elephant passed through our camp one night, we hid in a single file line behind a tree.

In the mountains, however, we encountered few animals. The peaks shared the same feeling of endless wilderness, but without animals to change our course we felt more boundless than ever. During one hike, we looked over into Lesotho – the only country in the world fully inscribed in another. The map depicts it as a simple circle inside of South Africa, yet the border could only be seen by our guides who had memorized the area. Absent of markings, it was only the perception of a hard-line that made the vista look any different.