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.