We landed in Amsterdam yesterday morning after ten days on safari in Tanzania. I can’t believe our time in Tanzania is over. The trip was not my idea, and would never have been my idea. I didn’t even want to go, but I came back learning more than I could have ever imagined. There are many parts to this story so I will just start at the beginning.
It was not long after returning from our Thanksgiving vacation last year that I asked Scott where we should go next summer in one of my “I need to talk about our next trip” moods. This conversation was before the conversation about traveling and homeschooling for a year. He caught me off guard with his answer. He said, “I want to go on a safari in Tanzania.” That was not the answer I was looking for; first of all, I wanted a conversation, a little bit of dreaming together, not an answer. Secondly, I had no desire to go on a safari in Tanzania. It was too far and too foreign and sounded way too much like camping. He repeated, “I really want to do that. It’s on my bucket list. The kids would love it.”
I changed the subject then, but I did get on the computer in the next few days and pretend that I was planning a safari. The amount of information was overwhelming, I couldn’t really even understand how the whole safari process worked, but I did understand that we would need special vaccinations and take malaria pills and endure over twenty hours of flying. I could not wrap my head around taking myself, let alone my kids on a safari and that is what I told Scott later that week.
That conversation did not go well. I said, “I don’t want to go. It’s too much.” And his supportive response was something like, “Too much what? So, we are not going because you don’t want to?” He obviously didn’t understand. I didn’t just not want to go, the thought of traveling that distance to a place so unfamiliar to me with my children made me want to cry. So, I cried. And he said, “Stay home then. I’ll take the kids.” That was the end of the conversation for a few months until we decided on our year of adventure.
As we planned our first adventure, the subject of Tanzania came up again. We would be in Europe and so we would be halfway to Tanzania. Our trip was also during the dry season there so the weather would be good and chances for animal sightings optimal. I tried very hard to be open-minded. I did more research and learned more about how a safari works and let me tell you the information is infinite (I am going to write a blog about that sometime along with documentation of my endless lists). I started narrowing down the parks we might visit by talking to my father-in-law (he’s been there three times), tour operators and reading and reading. I finally chose a safari company and started planning the actual days, but I still couldn’t commit.
So, how did it happen that I decided to join my family in Tanzania? As irrational as I can become about the dangers lurking in life, my desire to not miss out on anything usually overpowers my paranoias and fears. Even though I was afraid, it was obvious by the vast amount of information, reviews, safari companies and forums that many people actually love safaris and surprisingly live to not only tell about them but to go on another one! There were also some other factors at work in my head and heart as well. I have been realizing that of all of the bases I try to cover with my worrying, I usually never worry about the thing I should. Thus, I rationalized; we might make it out alive. And as annoying as I find all of the coffee mugs and pillows and home furnishings and self-help books, calendars, and journals that both coax and demand one to “Live!” “Dream!” “Love!” “Be Brave!” and on and on, I do want to have the freedom in my head and heart to do the things that that I want to do and those things are usually the ones that make me uncomfortable. All of this soul searching and rationalizing helped but the one thing that actually allowed me to buy the plane tickets and put a deposit on the tour was a chat with the kid’s pediatrician.
We’ve known him since Grant was born and have complete faith in him so when an unexpected visit to his office for one of the kids came up; I took it as a sign. I marched in there with my sick kid and when he asked what was going on I said, “Scott wants to take the kids to Tanzania on a safari. What do you think?” He said it was a great idea, he’d been there himself and that it was worth every risk. I ignored the last part of the sentence and focused on the fact that he said it was okay and he had been there and was now talking to us, so I went home and resigned myself to the fact that I was going on safari.
That’s how it happened. We went on a ten day safari in Tanzania and visited Arusha, Tarangire, and Serengeti National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Hadzabe, Datoga and Masai Tribes. We stayed in lodges and camps and mobile camps and spent many hours in a safari jeep and saw much more than beautiful animals in their native habitats through the windows.
I thought I was going to see animals and get through ten days of being out of my comfort zone, but I came back with memories of so much more. I can’t say I came back with an understanding of anything, but I can say that my eyes are open wider and I have some new insights into another part of the world and myself that make me contemplate the many facets of the human condition. I am grateful for the journey, the things I saw, the people I met, the joy, awe and discomfort I experienced.