I once went on a photo safari to Zimbabwe and Botswana with a group of strangers. Our first night was spent camping on the Khalahari Plain. It was quite picturesque. There we were, camped amidst a small grove of trees. We sat in folding chairs around a roaring fire. In the distance we could hear the call of birds and the occasional giggle of a hyena … and there I was with a pair of retired university professors who wanted to spend the night guzzling wine and talking.
After THREE HOURS of incessant talking, they finally noticed that I hadn't said a word. "Don't you have anything to say?" asked one of the professors. "Why don't you choose a topic for conversation?"
"Could we just enjoy a moment of silence?" I asked. "Could we just enjoy the crackling of the flames?"
The others looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and immediately began another conversation. (sigh)
The picture safari lasted 4 long weeks. It felt like 4 years.
Towards the end, I broke away from the group and spent the last week at a travel lodge on the Okavango. I had a private bungalow complete with a bed covered by mosquito netting along with a private bath. Meals were served on white linen covered tablecloths by servers in spotless white jackets. By day, I had access to a private guide who could take me out in a land rover or on a motorboat.
It was heavenly. The guide didn't say a word other than to ask me where I wanted to go.
Surprisingly enough, after returning to the group for our departure via Victoria Falls, the others in the party wouldn't speak to me. I suppose I was being punished for having left the group but to me, their affronted silence was simply another blessing.