Tag Archives: africa

Looking Back on Botswana


So, I’m back from Africa and settled back into my life (after considerable jet lag).  It’s hard now even to believe that just a week ago, I was driving around the wilds of Botswana in a safari vehicle, looking at rhinos and giraffes and elephants.  It all seems like a movie that I went to see, and now I’m out of the theater, dazed by the  bright outside light and realizing that I ate a little too much popcorn (or, in this case, one too many ‘fat cakes,’ a Botswana staple consisting of a big ball of friend dough dripping with grease).

This trip to Africa made me feel both younger than usual and older.  I felt younger to realize that I still had the nerve to go exploring and camping in remote places, with my 2 girls and some camping equipment.  It also made me feel younger to try new foods, meet new people, and to see new things.  However, the trip also made me feel older, in that I had more anxiety about things than I had ever had in the past.  Part of this is probably due to the fact that it was Africa I was visiting and not Wales (where I ventured when I was 19 and traveling by myself for the first time).

Part of my anxiety was also due, I’m sure,  to the fact that I didn’t have my husband with me—for the first time in about 28 years!  After all, Tom is always so on guard against every possible hazard to our kids that it makes it easy for me to relax and be laid back.

But the biggest part was probably just due to the fact that I’m 58 years old and a little too aware of the bad things that can happen to good people.  While Becky was excited to see the very interesting lizard on the roof of our camping tent, I couldn’t help but imagine that lizard dropping down on us in the night to give us a fatal, poisonous bite.  While Becky and Josie both enjoyed steering the rental car through the sandy roads into Khama Rhino Sanctuary, I kept imagining us stuck in the sand on a backwoods trail, with no one to come and rescue us or bring us water.  It made me feel old to be conscious of every mosquito bite, fearing dengue fever or malaria.


I have to admit it:  when our plane touched down in Philadelphia, and I knew, for the first time, that I had gotten at least one of my girls safely back on this side of the ocean, part of me breathed a huge sigh of relief.

But then, I have to remember that there was also another part of me that was ready to pack up and go again.

I guess there’s still some life in the old girl.

My African Adventure: Part III

I’m back home, safe and sound, so I thought I would just give the highlights of the trip.  I’m still a little jet lagged, so bear with me if I repeat myself.  The pictures, by the way, come courtesy of my photographer daughter, Josie!

1) Seeing a mother warthog with her 3 babies:

2) Seeing a herd of elephants rolling in the mud under a hot, hot sun at Madikwe Game Reserve:

3) Watching the sun set at Tuli Game Reserve while elephant shrews and lizards ran around the rocks at our feet:


4) Visiting the little town of Serowe, with its fabulous museum that features a room dedicated to the life of novelist Bessie Head, as well as great exhibits about the Khama family (rulers of Botswana over the years):

5) Seeing a leopard—a very rare sighting—out for an evening stroll and watching lions drinking at a watering hole:


6) Catching a mother and baby rhino in our spotlight on our night drive through Khama Rhino Sanctuary

7) Playing “Categories” with my girls while waiting for our afternoon safari drive at Tuli, while a monkey stole our opened can of tuna fish!

8) Realizing that we probably weren’t going to die out in the wilderness, even though our 2-wheel drive rented car was having considerable difficulty navigating the sandy roads at Khama and the rocky, potholed roads at Tuli

Continue reading My African Adventure: Part III

What I am Thankful for this Thanksgiving

 Here are 10 things I’m thankful for this year:

1)  We have wonderful friends who make us feel thankful to be alive and sharing this planet with them.

2)  Our daughter Becky in Africa is feeling better, so maybe she doesn’t actually have dengue fever or some other horrible tropical disease (what I immediately assumed upon hearing that she had a fever and muscle pains). And our daughter Josie does not have a stress fracture on her leg—just shin splints!  Yaay!  And she’s going with me to see Becky soon.

3)  Our daughter Lizzie has Janson in her life—a thoughtful, loving guy—and Janson may even have a job soon, thanks to some great folks who read about him in the paper and decided they wanted to go out of their way to help a Marine veteran!

4)  Our son, Parker, is very happy at Bard College—and, even though he won’t be home for Thanksgiving, he gets to have turkey dinner with Janet and Jerry, our wonderful friends in New York.


5)  I have three powerful and loving sisters (and a host of wonderful blood kin) and terrific, loving in-laws (how lucky is that?).

6)  Tom can still, after 28 years (is that possible?), make me laugh so hard that I risk embarrassing him in public (but I never really do).

7)  Obama is still in the White House.

8)  Even though I’ve gained some pounds and need to get rid of them, I’ve managed to keep off most of my weight loss.

9)  Our dog Tater loves to chase a laser around our floor—over and over again—without ever getting bored or tired.

10)  Ultimate Ice Cream (in Asheville, NC), especially the Coffee Heath Bar (perhaps this last one should be avoided). 

Jane and Josie Are Going to Africa!!!!!!

I didn’t think it would be possible.  I could not imagine how I could ever get there.  I had resigned myself (sorrowfully) to the idea that my daughter would be in Botswana for a year, and I would not get to see her—or to get any glimpse of her amazing new world.  We knew we couldn’t afford to bring her home for Christmas; and we didn’t see any way that we could get over there.  I was just going to have to stop worrying about her and accept the fact that I would not see her for nearly 10 months.

Then, the miraculous happened.  First of all, I had a visit with my wonderful sisters at the beach, who all encouraged me to think creatively about getting there to see Becky.  My sister, Katie, told me about how people can donate frequent flyer miles to other people.  My other sisters talked about ways to raise money for the trip.  My youngest daughter, Josie, said she was determined to go, and, since she suspected I would not let her go by herself, she offered to pay for herself and for part of my trip out of her hard-earned babysitting money. 

Africa, here we come!

After I got back from the beach, my sister, Sheppie, sent me a donation in the mail, “for your trip.” That was just the beginning of a string of incredibly wonderful, generous acts by friends and family.  Here’s a summary:  my wonderful roommate from college, Cindy, donated her frequent flyer miles to me; my incredible mother-in-law, Henny, gave hers to Josie. 

So, we knew we could get to Africa—and that we could even stop in Holland on the way to visit with family!  But we still had no idea how we could afford to do anything once we got there.  And then, the miraculous happened:  a friend of a friend of my husband’s, a wonderfully generous man who will remain nameless (in case he doesn’t want the publicity), offered us the use of his house and his car, for an extremely moderate fee, during our visit.  And, he told us how to see all the things we wanted to see—the elephants, the lions, the rhinos, etc.—without breaking the bank.  He told us about the out-of-the-way nature parks that tourists don’t usually visit.  He gave us tips about how to camp and cook your own food, instead of staying in luxury safari lodges.  As things turned out, he even designed a 9-page itinerary for us, with tips on all the little things we should know, such as which line to stand in for Customs, how much a taxi ride from the airport should cost, what to bring with us from the States, etc.  I consider him our Fairy Godfather for this trip—and this is a man that we will not even get the chance to meet in person, since he and his wife will be away on a cruise when we are in Botswana!!!! Continue reading Jane and Josie Are Going to Africa!!!!!!

On Having a Daughter in Africa (25 Hours Away by Jet)


This news came on a day when we had not heard anything from Becky for a while, since she was traveling with friends to South Africa, so she wasn’t anywhere near a computer—and her phone had no service.  I didn’t think I could stand it, but I had to wait another two or three days before I could actually hear from Becky in person that  1) she was alive 2) she had a fabulous time in South Africa and 3) yes, she was indeed standing less than a foot away from the rogue Great White when it rammed the protective cage, pushing through the bars with its teeth.  According to their guide, that sort of thing “has never happened before.”  He was totally shocked that it happened this time.  Becky said it was “awesome,” since she could see its teeth—and could have put her whole arm down its mouth if she’d wanted to!

Needless to say, I’m having difficulty having my girl so far away this year.  The bleak reality – that hits me in the middle of the night or at times when she is sick or hurts her leg or loses her phone—is that 1) I can’t get to her quickly 2) I can’t get her home quickly 3) I can’t think about what might or might not be happening to her, since I can’t do a damn thing about it. Continue reading On Having a Daughter in Africa (25 Hours Away by Jet)