Out of Africa...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jambo everyone (that's Tanzanian for hello and welcome!)

I'm finally back from Africa and there's so much to tell I hardly know where to begin. First and foremost, though, I have to thank my wonderful friend, Kim, for holding down the fort so ably while I was gone. It was great fun to read all her blogs and your answers when I got home. It felt as if I'd never left at all. Honestly, I think Kim was much funnier and more interesting than I usually am...so thanks! Now I'll try to live up to her standard in the weeks and months to come.




I'd also like to thank all of you for sticking around while I was gone. And I missed hearing from all of you; I really did! I wondered what was happening in your lives, and what you were reading and what you thought about the television shows we all watch. As you can imagine, I was definitely out of the American cultural loop while I was gone. No television for a month, no magazines, no american newspapers, no phone calls to friends and family (or very few at 8 dollars per minute), and no books that I didn't bring with me in my SINGLE carryon piece of luggage. All of this during the last weeks of the election (don't worry--I tivo-ed everything and am watching all the debates and analyses now), and the stock market meltdown. For a news junkie like me, it was a strange and surreal experience. And don't even get me started on what was happening on my beloved Prison Break....


So yes, traveling to Africa was an experience unlike anything I've done in my life. To be honest, as perhaps I have mentioned in this blog before, I planned obsessively for almost a year for this trip. But for most of that time, it was all rather abstract. I knew I was flying for 22 hours to a continent that had stringent health requirements and plenty of seen and unseen dangers, but I didn't think much past my lengthy to do list. It wasn't until the last week before leaving that I started to actually get a bit nervous. I think I shared that with all of you...or was I trying to be strong and adventurous? I can't recall. Anyway, I was nervous, and in my unexpected bout of anxiety, I was sadly reminded that I am not a young college student anymore. I knew this of course, but I didn't really KNOW it, if you get my drift. But I woke up one morning and looked at all the meds I was taking and thought about the fact that I'd be hours and hours away from my son if anything bad happened, and I started to pace. My son thought I was an idiot, of course. "Mom, I'll be fine. Relax."


And then, after all that planning, we were suddenly off. Flying from Seattle to Amsterdam to Johannesburg. And here's what I can say about Africa: It rocked the house. I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Every part, every place, every experience. Nothing was as I'd expected it to be. I'd worried about the heat, the bugs, the poverty, the animals, and being American. All of those worries were moments of my life wasted.


Now, obviously, with a four week trip, there's too much for a single blog. I'd end up writing a book instead of a blog. So I'll probably be writing about the trip for weeks, mixing it up with what's going on here. Does that work for all of you? I hope so. I'll try to keep as much of it as I can in some kind of chronological order so you get a good idea of the trip itself, and as always, I'll answer all of your questions. I'm still working on the one thousand photographs I took. Can you believe it? I took more photos in a month than in all the years previous to it. I didn't realize when I was snapping away how freaking difficult it would be when I got home to download and organize and go through all the shots. But I'll do it for my fireflies, never fear! And yes, to those of you who worried along with me, I did get some fabulous pictures, which I can't wait to show you.


Like the two pictures above. The second photo is a memento of one of my very favorite moments on the trip. I was lucky enough to meet with a remarkable Masai warrior, a man named, Parieto, and learn about his life and his people. He even invited Ben and me into his home and then sat out on the rim of the crater for sunset with us. At the end of the evening, he gave me a beautiful beaded bracelet that one of his wives had made. It was totally cool. When I get to that part of the trip, I'll have lots more photos and more information. But for now, I'm starting at the beginning...

The top photo is of the four of us--African adventurers. We are, from left to right: Ben and me, and my father, and his wife, Deb. Hard to believe that only a year ago we were sitting in a pub in Washington, talking about how great it would be to travel together and now here we are, standing in front of the world famous Victoria Falls in Zambia.
From Johannesburg, we went straight to Zambia, and into the town of Livingstone, named after the famous adventurer himself. We were plunged instantly into the whirlwind of small town African life--uniformed children walking literally miles to school and back each day, people gathered on street corners, talking, drivers zipping crazily to and fro on the "wrong" side of the street. In the distance we could see the smoke-like vapor from the thunderous falls. It all looked impossibly dry and golden to us Washington staters. Sadly, the worst part was the border between Zambia and Zimbabwae--Zim and Zam to the locals. With all of the things going on in Zam, people in that country are starving. We saw a steady stream of people--many of them women and children--walking endless miles for bags of rice and maize. It was truly heartbreaking, and made us wonder how we could help.
We spent only a night in Zambia and then it was off to...you guessed it, safari. Which word, by the way, means journey in swahili. Some claimed that it was coined by Livingston when he came to Africa. So, I'll take a few days to gather my safari photos together and check back in with you soon...
On a more ordinary front, I read Chelsea Cain's novel, Heartsick, on the plane. It was fairly graphic and quite violent, but I loved it, what can I say? I'm looking forward to the sequel, which I believe is called Sweetheart. Anyone else out there read these books?
Thanks again to everyone for sticking around, and to Kim, for being such a wonderful blog surrogate. :)
Aloha
Kristin the adventurer

26 Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

Welcome home !!!! I'm so glad you guys had a wonderful trip, and thank God for your safe travels and return. You are right, Kim was fabulous, but you were missed very much.

I can't wait to hear all about your adventure. The smile on your face in the two photos says it all. An adventure of a lifetime! Good for you!

How dark is it at night? Did you see any fireflies that stowed away in your bag (smile)?

We missed you, but got such a treat by getting to know Kim !!

Lisa

November 2, 2008 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Hello all and welcome back Kristin,

I just got back from a trip to Spain (Barcelona area) for a couple of days myself, so I recognize all the things that have to be done at this time very well. I have lots of things to catch up on and I can't wait to check out my pictures and such.

I'd also like to thank Kim for keeping us entertained while Kristin was away. I know I didn't write much in the past month, but that had certainly nothing to do with the replacement blogger. I think Kim did a fabulous job and as so many people have already written, I couldn't believe when I read it that it was time for Kristin to come back already.

As far as I'm concerned, go ahead and write that book about the trip in this blog, by the way! You're a great story-teller and I can imagine that having all those different experiences in a month, there must be zillions of things to talk about. Heck... I have only written to one person about my trip to Spain and it was a 4 page e-mail, so again, this is something I certainly recognize.

I love the pictures you've shared until now, by the way. And you look excellent in the one with the Masai warrior, so I don't think you've got anything to complain about if you can appear so pretty while bringing only one suitcase. Obviously, it was filled to the brim with unneeded stuff, cuz I read you didn't bring any books and you do have sunglasses in that one picture. Actually I'm just kidding and bitching a little bit since it was pouring and rather cold the whole time I was in Spain.

Zim and Zam sound interesting and you've actually got me so hooked to the travel story already that I think you might actually convert me into an Africa-lover after all. If you can actually tell me why someone who still sees all the things you mentioned as stuff that made you nervous before the trip (and yes, it was slightly showing ;)) as things that make her uninterested enough to not go on a journey (whether it be in swahili or not) to Africa, should really consider going there anyway, then I'll think about it. After I'm done going back to Canada for Christmas (pretty sure) and going to the Dominican for Easter (plans, but not sure yet) first, though.

Love,
Leen

November 2, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Sheila said...

WELCOME BACK!!

You are brave :) and those pictures look great!

Get some rest (our fall time change has started and probably throwing you off even more from the jet lag?)

Hope you didn't have to use the TP ;)

November 2, 2008 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger The Heiner's said...

Welcome back Kristin! Sounds like you had SO much fun! Glad you're back but yes, Kim was awesome while you were away on the trip of a lifetime! Gosh, I can't even imagine doing something like that. Love the pictures so far and can't wait for the rest. I just LOVE animals! Can't wait to hear all about the safari.
Can't believe how much you've missed in a month. Crazy with all the stock market and things going on ha? It would make me want to turn around and go right back to Africa. Not that thats NOT a depressing place in some parts. Did you see a lot of poverty? That's one of the first things I think of when I think of Africa. Breaks my heart.
I haven't read any Chelsea Cain novels. They do sound good though and I just finished Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One. It was very good! Sorry for the rambling. Again, welcome back!
Andi

November 3, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Kelli Estes said...

As much as I enjoyed Kim's blogs (Hi Kim!), I'm happy you're home, Kristin, and I look forward to all of your stories from your trip.

November 4, 2008 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Kristin, and fellow Fireflies, thank you so much for your incredibly kind words. I had a great time filling in but like everyone else, am so happy you are home!! The pictures are wonderful and Lisa is so right, your smile says it all. Catch up on your sleep, get rid of that nasty cold, and then please feel free to do as Leen said: blog as much and as long as you want to about your trip. I know we all are anxious to hear!!!

Welcome home!

Kim

November 4, 2008 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome Home Kristin.
Glad you all had a great trip,and all went fine.You were missed.Looking forward when you are up to it hearing much more.My kids are off again to South America.always something to worry about.Have been doing alot of reading.So many books,so little time.Kim was great.
Later
Hugs Sharon

November 4, 2008 at 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Welcome home Kristin! It's a little early, but I just read Debbie Macomber's A Cedar Cove Christmas and loved it. And I'm reading LaVyrle Spencer's Forgiveness. What a book, although it's taking me a while to read.

I had a thought. Please feel free to laugh at me. I'd love to see you on Dancing with the Stars. It would be so cool.

November 5, 2008 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Welcome home, Kristin! I'm so glad you had an amazing trip and cannot wait to hear more about your experiences. You look so exuberant in the pictures, I have to believe this trip changed you in some amazing ways!

Kim did a wonderful job. We were in very good hands with her and it's been a joy getting to know her through the blog. You have good people at your side!

Again, welcome back!

November 5, 2008 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Lisa--

Thanks so much! It's so great to feel welcomed home after such a long and amazing trip. I really did miss all of you while I was gone. I had more than a little bit of technology nostalgia. Who would have thought? It's funny that you should mention the Africa nights. They were stunning. Sunsets were like nothing I've ever seen. I was comelled to take dozens and dozens of photos. I'll put one up tomorrow. And YES! I did see fireflies. They were all over in the savannah grass in Botswana and along the Chobe river. So I thought of all of you--

And thanks to all of you for making Kim feel so welcome. :)

aloha,

Kristin

November 5, 2008 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Leen---

You are such a world traveler yourself! I'm envious. And honestly, I thought of you so often while I sat in the Amsterdam airport.

You're awfully kind to say I look good in the photos; to be honest, I disagree, but I pretty much knew that going in. No makeup, no hair dryers or hair products, all khaki (not good on a blonde with fair skin). I just decided not to care. What matters are the memories we made and in that way all the pictures are great because we're all smiling brightly. You've given me a good topic for the next blog. I'll let you all know how the trip came about and why I'm so glad I went.

Keep in touch--

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Sheila--

Thanks for the bright welcome back! Really, hearing from all of you is so fabulous. I wonder how I'll be able to leave again. Oh, wait, I know--Kim did a great job. :) Did we tell you that she's coming to Hawaii with me in May, so you'll all have both of us then and maybe she can show me how to download photos in the body of the blog instead of only at the top.

and yes, I did need the tp, so thanks to all of you adventurers who mentioned it. :)

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Andy==

Actually, the very poverty you talk about was one of the reasons I didn't want to go to Africa. I'm such a soft touch; I thought I'd be crying constantly. Now, I'm sure if I went to several of the hardest hit countries, that would be true, and certainly the border of Zimbabwae was heartbreaking, but I was also amazed at how upbeat and optimistic the African people are. Honestly, I have never travelled to countries whose people were more warm and welcoming. By our standards--by any standards, perhaps--there was a great deal of poverty, but it was offset by a remarkable resilience and an indomitable spirit. That's really what I took away; the animals and the countryside lured me to Africa, but the people are what will make me go back.

I'll tell you all about the safari in the next post. If you like animals, you would have LOVED it

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Kelli and Sharon--

Thanks for keeping in touch! I promise to have the next Africa installment up and running soon.

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Michelle---

Wait, I'm laughing too hard to type. Honestly, that's the funniest thing I've ever heard. Me on Dancing with the Stars. :) I'm still grinning. While I love the show, and never miss it, and while I--like so many people--imagine in my head that I can dance, the sad truth is that I have NO sense of rhythm and I'm tone deaf. I don't mean I can't carry a tune--I mean I don't even know what a note is. And form fitting, leg baring, sequined dresses? I shudder at the thought. Although, as a weight loss program, it definitely rocks.

thanks for the thought!

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Naomi---

Thanks! I have to admit; meeting that Masai warriors was one of the highlights of my life, so I'm not surprised I look exuberant. I am, however, surprised--pleasantly--that the pic is in focus. :)
How' your reading and writing going?

aloha,
K

November 5, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anita said...

Kristen - welcome back. The pictures look great so far and I can't wait to see more. Kim did do an excellent job blogging while you were away. Rest and get well. Off to the school day!

Anita

November 6, 2008 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Kristin - the reading is going well. LOL! The writing slowed down a bit since I'm out a laptop. I got laid off from work and while my last day is tomorrow, had to turn in the laptop. Home is about networking and job hunting. Work is about networking, packing and getting stuff off the computer system to take with me. Next week I will dive into writing again, but will be tied to my house since writing long hand doesn't appear to be productive for me. *sigh*

Still, it's all part of a bigger adventure, right? I'm just glad I have great friends, some wonderful authors to escape with and an amazing husband. Things will work out in the end. :)

November 6, 2008 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Sorry that was Forgiving by LaVyrle not Forgiveness. And glad I made you laugh so hard; we certainly need some things to laugh at these days.

I'm SOOO excited. Since I've got to wait Forever for True Colors, I decided to try a brand-new-for-me author Jodi Picoult. Perfect Match.

That's all fireflies--

November 7, 2008 at 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Michelle, you will love Jodi Picoult! My 2nd favorite female author by far! Perfect Match is a wonderful book. Her novels usually make your moral compass work overtime, so get ready for a book you can't put down.

Can't wait to hear if you like her. Keep me posted.

K,K & flies - my physician recommended the following books to me the other day. She didn't even write down the authors. I'm going to try and find them this weekend. Any of you heard of these? Your thoughts?

Moloka
Bridge of Sighs
Abundance

TaTa - Lisa

November 7, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Anita---

I promise to get more photos up asap. In fact, I think I'll do it right now, so gotta run. :)

aloha,
K

November 7, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Naomi--


I am so so sorry to hear of your job woes. I'm sure I speak for all the fireflies when I say we're rooting for you. It's such an awful time out there for so many of us; it's more important than ever that we stick together and provide girlfriend support. Whenever you want to vent, you know you have a safe place here.

And about writing longhand. I'm sure you know that I write all my books that way. (Ask Kim about the process, I'm sure she'd love to do a little venting of her own). I began on a computer, of course, but my hands and back and neck couldn't take the long hours at the keyboard, so I started writing longhand just to bridge the gap, and you know what? I found that it unleashed my creativity in a whole new way. No more blue screen to spaz out over. So don't give up yet. Keep writing!

aloha,
K

November 7, 2008 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Michelle and Lisa--

Way to go, discovering Jodi Picoult. She's one of my favorite authors, too, although I haven't read perfect match. Let us all know how it is! Sometimes she's difficult to read (tough situations handled realistically can be hard to read), but her books are always compelling and well written and interesting. Give Change of Heart a try, too.

And Lisa, the book is actually called Molokai and it's wonderful. Of course, I'm a little partial to the Hawaiian Islands. Let me know what you think. BOS is by Russo, and I haven't read that one yet.

Oh, well, off to blog...

aloha,
K

November 7, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

I only just realized when I got back home: I was in the Amsterdam airport on November 1st, just getting back from Spain and trying to get on a train back to Belgium from there. Wouldn't it have been nice to bump into you, Kristin, then and there?

Actually... it probably wouldn't have. I wasn't in a grand mood cuz my travelling companion kinda pissed me off and besides... I didn't even have any Kristin Hannah novel on me to get it autographed... lol! All your fault too, of course, for making us wait so long to get "True Colours".

I guess in the mean time I've started to read one of my other favourite author's books again then. For thrillers, I prefer either a Belgian author called Pieter Aspe (whose books I'm sure will be translated to English someday) and Elizabeth George. The inspector Lynley series are really my thing, so I am now doing what I also did with your books, which is reading them in English first, then re-reading them when they appear in Dutch. Quite a costly affair, really, and only worth it for those authors I really, really like!

Other than that... in my opinion it doesn't really matter how pretty you are, as long as your happiness shines through. And I guess I can just see that in the pictures you posted. That smile really makes a person beautiful no matter whether what they wear goes with their hair colour or whatever. Or maybe that's just me, cuz I'm always smiling and that's the only way I can get people to say I look nice... lol.

Anyway... I'm looking forward to reading more about where the idea for this trip came from, what all you did while you were there and when you're going back on your next vacation.

Heck... I'd never been anywhere before I went on my first plane ride back in 2001, so if you call me a world traveller now, make sure you don't tell my mom or she'll just lock me up for the rest of my life.

Love,
Firefly #13 (Leen)

November 7, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger april said...

I can't wait to read all of the Africa posts. The photos are already great.

I haven't read the author you mentioned, but I do love graphic and violent on occasion so I will check them out.

I do enjoy Jodi Piccoult's books. I read Perfect Match. Her books always leave me a little drained but spark some great dialogue. I love books that make me wonder how I would handle myself in a certain situation.

Kim was a wonderful surrogate. I can't believe it's been a month!

Welcome back!

~ april

November 8, 2008 at 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

hi guys-- After reading The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks, I'll be delving into Looking For Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky. It promises to be fun. There are authors who haven't seemed to publish in a while that are great to reread. Like Belva Plain. I've already read some of her stuff twice. Now that Christmas is coming up, I need to read Comfort and Joy. Although I believe Fern Michaels also has a book by that title.
Looking for your next Africa post, Kristin. You do keep us smiling!

November 14, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home