Category: South Africa, Malawi 2016

The Last Leg, Reflections

May 20-21

(Note: there’s a post from yesterday called “A Final Lazy Day”.  Though it’s up on the website, I’m not sure followers were notified.  So, if you were not notified and want to see it, you can do that by clicking the “Previous” link at the top of this post.)

As we take what even for us is a very long trek back (34 hours from the time we leave our lodge in Malawi to landing in Chicago–small plane to Lilongwe, 2 1/2 hour flight to Joburg, on to Dulles, with a stop in Accra, Ghana and then fly to Chicago, where Carol and I will attend a wedding five hours after we land), it’s time for some reflections. Here’s one member of our party as we landed in Accra.

This trip was for and about Zoe. And, quite simply, we could not have hoped for a better trip.

Carol and I were in heaven, having this time alone with Zoe. She’s just, well, neat. I can even forgive her failure always to appreciate my offbeat insights, especially because there’s often a smile lurking beneath the eye rolling. She’s good company–curious, witty, self-possessed and very clever. She can hold her own in any irreverent banter, and she had ample opportunity to test that on the trip.  

For the most part, the three of us hung out together, but Carol and I each also managed some alone time with Zoe, which I know was special for both of us. And one never has to worry about Zoe in the company of contemporaries of ours, she’s charming and comfortable with them.

The trip was very well balanced, between safaris, Capetown and relaxation, and Zoe enjoyed all of it. We’ve just begun discussing the trip and Zoe, Carol and I all agreed on our ranking of the overall experiences we had in our four stops, the Sabi Sabi lodge in South Africa, Cape Town, Majete National Park in Malawi and our relaxing time on Lake Malawi. We ranked them one to four in the order above, which happened to be the order in which we experienced them, though we all liked each of the spots we visited. Of course, we have a whole lot more debriefing to do on the trip.

I think (and hope) that the trip was a great growth and mind-expanding experience for Zoe, and a wonderful introduction for her to the joys of travel. This was one of our principle goals, and I think it was fully achieved. Clearly, Zoe found the safari experience as magical as we do, which pleased us greatly. I was tickled that Zoe was very into taking photographs, and I see this as a possible area for us to relate to one another in the future.

The trip was well-planned and went extremely smoothly. Kudos again to Jean and Ahdina Zunkel, whom we highly recommend. Carol and I have done some fabulous safaris, so this would not rank as our top game viewing experience. But it was plenty good, and more than sufficient to give Zoe a taste of the thrill of safaris.

For me, photography is a part of travel. But photography clearly was not what this trip was about. I hope I got a few worthwhile photos–and I am intrigued with the out-of-focus night safari shots, which I think may be the photographic highlight of the trip for me. Part of my aim was to document the trip by including photos of Zoe and Carol. So, whatever comes of the photographs will be quite fine with me. And, as I said, I love the fact that Zoe enjoyed the photography as much as she did.

I’ll end where I began this blog, by recognizing how incredibly fortunate Carol and I are to be able to have this experience with Zoe. And Phoebe, who’s two years behind, is already reading and thinking about where she wants to go for her 13th birthday trip. We can’t wait for what we know will be a different, but equally exciting, experience; so, bring it on, Phoebz.

The Last Leg, Reflections

  • Wendy

    We are grateful beyond words that Zoe got to have these most extraordinary adventures with you, and you with her. I can confirm what you already know: she LOVED it all.

    She will always and forever remember this time with you both, just as she will always and forever be influenced by the experience for the good, in one way or another . . . only time will tell how.
    We love you,
    W. (and C.)

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