Berlin Travel Club: Nils Straatmann talks to Gianluca Pardelli about his Grandmother’s Dream of Apes

Since she was a child, Gianluca’s grandmother, Mrs. Lia, as everyone called her, had always been strongly attracted to mysterious Africa and during the course of her long life she had even managed to visit some corners of this great and unknown continent of red sands and impenetrable jungles. Her greatest dream, however, had remained unfulfilled: it seemed too difficult and the further you go with the years, the more you gave up to your childhood fantasies. Her dream, in fact, was to spot mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Yes, you got it right, those beasts covered in black- silver hairs that populate the heights of Virunga, in central Africa. She had read about it when she was still a child and then films and documentaries on the subject had contributed to grow her desire to see with her own eyes these elegant and powerful animals so similar to us.

Watching them on a TV screen or through bars of a zoo was not enough: Gianluca’s grandmother dreamed to see them in their natural habitat, where the equatorial jungle covers mountains as high as three thousand meters. But the years go by fast and so the lust for adventures. Yet in her eyes and in her voice that dream still shone and one day Gianluca decided to seize the chance and told her: “Grandma, next year I’ll take you to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas”. An ordinary grandmother would have laughed at the crazy idea and branded it as an oddity of a restless nephew, not Signora Lia, who simply looked at him with all the joy and tenderness of the world and said: “OK, tell me what I need to pack”.