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Discovering the Enchantment of Ishara’s Starbed Experience

As I gaze up at the galaxies, a sense of calm washes over me. It’s hard to fathom I’ve spent several hundred days at Ishara, yet every moment still feels wondrous and new. This place has a magnetic energy that draws people in, bringing hearts and lives together in ways that are truly extraordinary. Two years have passed since the first guests stepped onto our bridge, and in that time, Ishara has become a sanctuary for us all.

I’ve been up here late at night and at the break of dawn countless times before, but this is my first time spending the night here. The intensity of the stars is overwhelming; the river flows gently in the background while hippos carry on with their nocturnal rituals. A symphony of frogs and cicadas provides the perfect soundtrack for my introspection, making me question if I ever imagined myself as the type of person who could be alone in the great outdoors, surrounded by nothing but nature and the stars above. In this thriving and primal wilderness, instead of feeling fear and isolation, I’m filled with a profound sense of stillness.

The cool, crisp air that blows across the savanna fills my lungs. A projective mosquito net dances gracefully around me, swaying with the rhythm of the wind like a delicate ballerina. There’s something so fascinating about the expanse above, the endless sea of bejewelled blue that holds uncountable secrets. My gaze wanders, searching for a sign, a message, some direction. Guests say that the Starbed has the power to change one’s perspective and to be a transformative experience, and tonight, I am here to witness what it will do to me.

As I let my mind drift, flashes of light appear in the cloudless sky above. My thoughts turn to the possibility of a storm coming and if I will need to return to my tent to seek shelter. But as the flashes grow brighter and more frequent, I realise that there is no sound of thunder to accompany them. I am both intrigued and confounded. Could some cosmic muddle have brought the aurora borealis to me in the Mara? Is it a Divine manifestation to let me know that I am seen and acknowledged, here for a purpose? I am spellbound by this moment and the mysteries it holds.

This haven welcomes travellers from all walks of life, each with their own unique tales to share. From seasoned adventurers to first-time voyagers, I count myself fortunate to spend time with many of them and learn about their captivating life journeys. Through each encounter, I am constantly reminded of the beauty of human connection and the power of shared stories. Indeed, Ishara is more than a physical space, it is a testament to the limitless possibilities of the human spirit.

There’s an energy here that is undeniable, with myths of gold ore in this ancient land that possesses strong restorative properties. Some suggest it’s the quartz found in the ground that emits a positive life force, while others attribute it to the sacred Oloirien and fig trees that call this home. But as I’ve sat with those seeking solace and clarity, I’ve come to believe that it’s perhaps the deep love that has been infused into every aspect of Ishara that heals wounds, soothes troubled minds, and brings a sense of unity to all who experience it. There’s a true sense of community, acceptance, and belonging that touches the core of all who visit. Whether it’s those who stumble upon this place for a greater purpose, weary souls, or individuals who quickly become intertwined with our own family after just a few days – there’s no denying that there are forces at work here that go far beyond what the mind can comprehend.

I awaken in night’s embrace and the universe has come alive around me. The sky seems to stretch on for eternity and the stars have multiplied a million-fold; it is a sight that takes my breath away. The heavenly flashes have stopped, but as I lay back to appreciate the grandeur of this spectacle, a shooting star streaks across the dark canvas. And then another. I am taken back to my childhood, when wishing upon a star meant something. It gave you the permission to believe in the impossible and to never stop dreaming. And here, in the midst of this moment, I feel a sense of nostalgia and longing for the people I hold dear and those I am yet to meet, truly in awe of living in this dream.

At 5:30am the sound of Omari’s voice on the phone brings a sense of excitement to my heart. Our driver has picked up a guest from Nairobi’s airport and is on his way to Ishara. A chance message sent out into the ether somehow connected me to this seeker of truth and light on his own quest for answers. Over the course of a few months, we have developed a friendship through our conversations and I wonder how his journey will unfold. If people are fated to meet, I believe, they will make their way across mountains and oceans to find one another.

“When two people start talking – it’s almost as rare as a celestial sighting,” Mayank Arora writes. “In a world of almost 8 billion people, two strangers almost as far as two unnamed stars in the universe, manage to intersect. Sometimes, these intersections are for a brief moment, and the stars manage to fall quicker than anyone can notice, and sometimes these intersections are powerful enough to emit light that’ll form the base of many stories to come. When two people start talking, a mini universe is born. In it, they sometimes find an answer to loneliness, a reason to share a little more or sometimes just an escape.”

As the first rays of light touch the horizon, the deep navy night gives way to an artist’s masterpiece, transforming into stunning hues of soft maroon, delicate lilac, warm peach, and vibrant orange. Darkness fades into the background and the tranquil silence is broken by the gentle whooshing of hot air balloons gracefully ascending into the pastel sky. The deck glistens with morning dew and the air fills with the vibrant chatter of birds. I can’t help but reminisce about The Curious Boy, awakening with anticipation for what the day will have in store.

I think back to an email I received from a guest a few days prior. “I shared the Ishara book with my mom who is currently going through the worst part of her cancer (Pancreatic Stage 4),” she wrote. “The pages with the cheetah have really resonated deeply with her…just wanted to share that Ishara creates ripples beyond those staying there in person.”

I feel my eyes welling up.

Living in this wondrous place has opened my eyes to the miracles that surround us, and perhaps, just perhaps, it has also shown me that signs are not always meant to be found, but rather, they are meant to find us.

Every day, I am overwhelmed by the people and emotions I encounter. And it’s not just superficial interactions, but genuine moments of vulnerability and empathy. Here, people are not afraid to smile, to open their hearts and pour out everything within them — their joy, their pain, their hope. It’s a reminder that there is still so much good in the world, amidst all the chaos and darkness. Ishara and the people in it have changed me in inexplicable ways, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Photo credits: Eric Averdung, Imara Njeri, Japheth Supeyo

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