23
Mar

Africa! You’re worth the effort.


One of the biggest surprises of our extended travels is how hard it is to find decent Internet. Travel is supposed to be one of the best perks to both working online and being self-employed, but it’s not much good if you’re unable to connect to begin with.

To top it all off, it’s been incredibly surprising that Europe is proving one of the most challenging locations in this department. I suppose it’s because we expect it to run like clockwork—after all, they’ve managed some pretty epic artistic and political movements throughout history, not to mention scarily accurate train schedules. Surely they can manage a few wireless connections?

Apparently not.

Alas, this is my long-winded way of saying that when you finally get a spot of Internet from Europe, your income-earning projects have to take priority. After that, you use your online access for the kids’ schooling needs. And since neither of these things are ever fully completed, you squeeze out the last few drops by fading to sleep watching a few episodes of Gilmore Girls or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before waking up to explore more of Europe by day.

Which means, simply put, that this blog isn’t updated as frequently as I like.

But because I’m determined to include all the highlights of our trip, I thought I’d finally summarize our time in Africa—a whirlwind, surprisingly fun few weeks on this massive continent. (The kids’ perspective to come soon!)

Uganda

We started our time in Africa visiting our friends the Forneys, and we had a fabulous time with them. Our kids still talk about theirs as a highlight of our entire journey so far, which should tell you something about their clan.

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Having come from Sri Lanka just before, a good chunk of our time with them was simply relaxing on their porch, sipping wine, watching the kids play, and catching up. Worth the visit and then some.

We then drove over to Jinja (thanks to the Forneys’ generosity with their safari van!) and spent time with Asher and Drü Collie and the Sole Hope team. It was a serious joy to better understand how their organization works, to visit some of the kids they’re serving, to see the shoe-making in action, and to hang out as families.

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And since we were there, we checked out the source of the Nile. Check!

Ethiopia

After Uganda, we popped over to Ethiopia for a short but very intense weekend to meet our Compassion child, Abubeker. I had met our other child in the Philippines back in 2011, and knew it’d be a formative experience for the kids. It was so worth the effort.

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The Compassion team on the ground in Ethiopia was fantastic from start to finish, from the organization to their translation to their thorough patience in answering all our questions. With our guide, we traveled almost ten hours from Addis Ababa up to the Highlands, where our child lives in a small village that’s barely a speck on the map.

There, we spent the first half of the day visiting the local center, meeting all the kids sponsored by Compassion, playing games with them, and watching our kids interact with them (a highlight!).

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The second half of the day we went to Abubeker’s home, where we met his mother and his four older brothers and sisters who love him something fierce. We broke bread together, gave him a few small toys (the look of excitement over a few cans of Play-doh!), and watched how his mother cares tirelessly for her clan.

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Abubeker may come from a poor family, but he is so very loved. They blessed us tenfold by letting us into their home.

Zimbabwe (with a splash of South Africa)

It may seem random, but it’s just how our flights worked out—we then traveled down to South Africa for a day before flying back up to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We hemmed and hawed about making this side jaunt over to the Falls, simply because it seemed so out of the way. Well, we were terribly glad we did.

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Mostly, we needed a chance to catch our breath, and our guesthouse provided just that—a relaxing, quiet place in a tranquil setting. I was a bit under the weather, so Kyle and the kids did a bit of ziplining while I slept and worked.

But we all visited Victoria Falls together, and it’s truly something else. Apparently we were there at the tail end of the low season, which was hard to believe what with how utterly soaked we got—it literally felt like it was raining up. We left drenched from head to toe, full of laughs.

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Another short but sweet trip, and completely worth the effort.

Kenya

Next up was back to where we nearly were originally, this time to Kenya. A friend of ours works for Socially Responsible Safaris, and they took us on one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. I had always wanted to go on a safari, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.

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If you go to the Masaai Mara in Kenya, you can expect to be blown away. The drive there is dusty, bumpy, and exhausting, but after a solid shower, a decent meal, and a warm bed for the night, the next morning you’re treated to some of the most majestic animals God ever thought up.

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Our safari camp was much more on the glamping than the camping side of things, and while that was a bit unexpected for my frugal self, I ultimately shrugged my shoulders and just went with it. Supremely grateful for Socially Responsible Safaris and their generosity.

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Morocco

Finally, we jetted way up to Morocco for a few days with some dear friends we’ve known for ages. They showed us around the old city of Fes, and we had a small taste of fascinating Moroccan culture. Our kids played, we vegged and caught up on the years, and generally had a relaxing recovery period with friends we’ve known since high school. A perfect way to end our time in Africa.

Sadly, we’re missing some of our Morocco photos. Instead of delaying this post with our as-of-now futile search, I’m going to share the one photo I can find. I’ll add more when they’re discovered:

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…Yep, we did all this in less than a month’s time. And we arrived in France exhausted. Tired, but exhilarated from a fantastic time connecting with old friends and making new ones. Completely worth it.

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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of The Art of Simple, a community blog about the art and science of living simpler. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.