Category: Ghana, Botswana 2018

Phoebe’s Trip.

April 2. This is Phoebe’s trip, over two years in the planning.

Here’s a recent picture of Phoebe in the Peter Pan Jr. t-shirt, which she received when she played the role of Wendy in the production. A couple weeks before the show, we asked her how rehearsals were going. She said they had started to fly, which was fun, but tiring. I said, “Phoebe, if I’d known you could fly, I could have saved a fortune on plane tickets to Africa.” She replied, without skipping a beat, “Sorry, but it’s a fairly recent skill.”

We’ve told our grandchildren that as a thirteenth birthday present we’d take them any place in the world they choose to go. For their eleventh birthday present, we give them a book of possible places to travel. They are not limited to those places, but the book is a way to get their juices flowing.

For Phoebe, the book was superfluous, for two reasons. Her juices are always flowing. When she first heard that she could go anyplace in the world for her 13th birthday, Phoebe was eight years old. Her immediate reaction was, “I’ve got to get on Trip Advisor.” We still have no idea how she knew about Trip Advisor.

Phoebe is a serial entrepreneur. Among the businesses she runs (or has run) are mother’s helper, face painter, photographer at children’s parties, web designer and, my personal favorite, manager of 3/5 of a family band. Phoebe’s dad, Chris, is a musician, band leader and singer himself and, as part of their home schooling, has taught Zoe to play the ukulele and Phoebe the guitar. Chris plays the guitar, too, they all sing and they call themselves the 3/5 of a family band. Phoebe is the business manager and, in communicating with prospective clients, signs her name, “Phoebe Snell, Manager, 3/5 of a family band.” They are absolute dynamite and blow their audiences, often senior living facilities, away.

The second reason that the book was superfluous for Phoebe is that she already knew where she wanted to go—Ghana. She knew that Carol and I had traveled there five times with our dear friends, Dick and Susie Kiphart, visiting small rural villages in which the Kipharts had funded wells, schools and health clinics. Three times we were joined by our Nigerian doctor friends, Funmi and Sola Olopade, who run the global health program at the University of Chicago Medical School. Sola has been helpful in facilitating aspects of this trip for us.

Phoebe had seen photos and heard about those Ghana trips, and she wanted to see the places we’d been to, firsthand. “I’m more interested in culture and people than animals,” she explained, knowing that we had taken her sister, Zoe, on safari to South Africa and Malawi two years ago. We were delighted with Phoebe’s choice, but told her that, if she went to Africa, she had to see some animals, too. She agreed, and by her twelfth birthday, we’d settled on Botswana for the animal portion of our trip, and planned that with our travel agents (and friends), Jean and Ahdina Zunkel, who are based in Santa Fe, but consider the world their home. (If you’re thinking of taking a trip and need responsive, experienced, flexible and fun travel agents, try Jean and Ahdina, Max, Phoebe and Zoe’s 5-year old brother, has informed us that for his 13th birthday trip he’d like to go someplace close “so he doesn’t have to get shots.”

For Phoebe’s 12th birthday, we gave her six books, which we sent at 2-month intervals, about the area to which we’ll be going. Included among the books are some blog books with descriptions and photos from the trips Carol and I have taken to Ghana. We think this preparatory reading will enhance Phoebe’s appreciation for, and enjoyment of, what she’ll be seeing.

Our trip to Ghana will be unique, because we’ve planned it through the friends we’ve made there and will be visiting many places that no tourist could get to. It’s a privilege and a thrill to be able to plan a trip in that way. We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and to experiencing Ghana anew, through Phoebe’s eyes.

Well, we’re about to head for the ATL airport, so think I’ll get this post up. See you soon, in Ghana.

4 comments to Phoebe’s Trip.

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