Leaving Africa

It’s been five weeks on this amazing continent and I’m so proud that we did it as a family. As with most of the travels we’ve done so far, having the kids along with us has monumentally increased the value of the trip.

E+Giraffe

E taking it all in

I’ve watched them marvel at the culture and take their turn herding cows with Masai warriors (see the video below). I’ve watched them  share with the people, learn from history, taste the food, broaden their smiles and so much more.

boys safari

Boys gone wild

In some ways Africa has been disappointing. I had such high hopes of making a difference here but three attempts to secure volunteer placements didn’t come to pass and now I’m leaving the continent closest to my personal heritage having had little impact on it. For me, that’s  heartbreaking.
But that isn’t to say that Africa didn’t give me more than I gave it. It delivered in spades.
In South Africa I watched the boys develop an understanding of the sacrifices required when you believe in something and saw firsthand how the beauty of a place can leave even two chatty kids speechless.

 

mandela and me

The boys greet a "wired" version of a hero

In Namibia they learned about the animals on this planet and the people who are committed to keeping them in the wild. They learned that their ancestors were intelligent human beings who were some of the first people on this planet and saw that they left the cave drawings to prove it.

Cave Etchings

Ancient Cave Etchings in Twyfelfontein

In Kenya, they learned that strangers can become fast friends, that their mother’s appetite for African art is only matched by her love of Hashimi’s Tandoori chicken and that there are friends you make in life who despite distance or time will always feel like family.

Mo + fam

Friends who feel like family

 

And of course there were more animals to be blown away by.

lions upon lions

Lions upon lions in the Masai Mara

And in Tanzania they learned how language doesn’t have to be a barrier to understanding, how knowing only a few words can change your day and how some things are simply too heartbreaking to explain at all.

Slave Market Memorial

Slave Market Memorial Zanzibar

We’re leaving Africa as better people. We gave little here and I’m not proud of that. But we’ll be back and better equipped and prepared to do more.

And now, without further ado, Cow herding….

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Andrew Wright January 23, 2012, 8:20 AM

    That’s amazing! What an experience.

  • Emiel January 24, 2012, 5:49 AM

    Cows that speak Swahili :)
    To me it would have been almost impossible to capture the African continent in one blog post, but you did it very nicely! I especially like that part of the ancestors in Namibia. 
    Every continent has its own part of history that people don’t like to talk about, but does play an important role. Like the Slave Market memorial, which probably left an impact when you think back how people were treated. I’m glad you touched on that as well.
    And now you are having a blast in India, what a difference!!

  • Wandering Carol January 25, 2012, 8:37 AM

    Gorgeous post Heather, and truly honest re the volunteering. I was crushed when I was turned down as a volunteer at a dog shelter in Thailand, then I realized that just because I’m available didn’t mean I was valuable – not like a vet would have been. It was a humbling yet enlightening experience. 

  • Heather January 25, 2012, 1:55 PM

    Swahili speaking cows! I’ll swear by it.
    Seriously though: It all resonated. I’ll be processing this entire trip for years to come but Africa really left its mark on us.

  • Ed Prutschi January 29, 2012, 12:19 PM

    We’re taking the kids to Tanzania and Zanzibar this July and, while I’m incredibly pumped, my wife is feeling very uneasy.  I’ve been showing her your posts in the hopes that they will present a calming influence.  We’re brushing up on our Cow-Swahili to ease the transition.  ;)

  • Heather January 30, 2012, 5:37 AM

    Please tell her not to worry. It’s an incredible place.I wish we’d had more time to travel even further afield in Tanzania. Anything I can do to ease her fears let me know. Expect really nice people, really warm weather and memories to last a lifetime. Cow-swahili is good but K’Swahili is probably more useful. ;)

  • Heather January 30, 2012, 8:20 AM

    She’s going to love it Ed.  You all are. And cow swahili might not help much in Zanzi but K’Swahili is worth learning!

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