We made it back to the U.S. on Christmas Eve after a wonderful trip to South Africa. As you know I was nervous about leaving Andrew behind, but he flourished under the care of his aunties, and he seems to still like me.
So, how did this big trip come about?
Tim and Margaret went out of town for his parents' 50th a couple of years ago. I was left alone, on Jack's 17th birthday, because I was hugely pregnant and couldn't travel. There was a charity auction at Margaret's school that night, but after a terrible day, I wasn't up for going. Instead, I placed an online bid for an African Safari right before the auction ended. I figured Margaret and I could have a nice mother-daughter trip before college. Later, when Tim decided to join us, it became a family trip sans Andrew.
In addition to leaving Andrew behind, I was a bit stressed about the rigors of travel. I'd never been on such a long trip before. The good news? Sitting crammed in economy seats and in airports for over 24 hours straight was downright relaxing compared to toddler wrangling. I just watched a lot of movies and tried (and failed) to sleep. Sure, I was tired, but I've been tired for a long damn time and it didn't seem any worse than usual.
The game reserve, Zulu Nyala, caters almost exclusively to school auctions. It is not one of the well-known, ritzy reserves you may have heard of. That was fine with us, as we are not very ritzy people. It was small and uncrowded, with only about 50 guest rooms, a lobby, a pool area, and a restaurant/bar/dining hall. As you can see, the setting was gorgeous.
view overlooking the reserve from the pool area:
The weather was perfect-- chilly in the mornings, warm in the afternoons, and windy pretty much all the time.
We had two game drives in an open Land Cruiser each day, the first at 5:40 a.m. I thought a 5 a.m. wake-up would be miserable, given that this was our first break from early rising in 20 months, but it was fine. We'd go out for 2 1/2 hours and then come back for breakfast. After that, we'd read or nap, have lunch, and go out on another drive for 2-3 hours in the afternoon. Our guide was animated and informative, our fellow travelers delightful, and we were engrossed as we bumped and flew along the rough paths looking for animals to observe.
And the animals did not disappoint!
We saw warthogs, impalas, elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, wildebeast, lions (on a different reserve), monkeys, baboons, nyalas, hippos, alligators, birds, and dung beetles! I will never forget what it was like to be so close to these magnificent creatures as they went about their business. We even had elephants come super close to our vehicle!
After dinner, we'd read some more or watch a tv show we'd downloaded on our iPad and be asleep super early.
Margaret rolled with all of the planes, trains, and automobiles of such a major trip even though she had a terrible cold. As a bonus, she and Tim even managed to sleep for almost the entire way home!
The time away from our usual routine was beneficial for all of us: to sit, to wait, to watch in anticipation and awe, to eat food prepared by others, to read, to rest.
Thank you for praying for us and following along with my updates on Facebook. It was an unforgettable trip.