Once the decision had been made for us to leave Zambia, there was some pressure to try to fit in a final weekend away with some family and friends. For Mrs C and I, the thought seemed a little draining. That meant we’d have to fit all of our leaving preparation into less time, and then there’s the actual weekend away to consider. A four-hour trip on dirt roads is not the most appealing, particularly when two of your offspring seem to believe it’s their obligation to throw up on any road trip longer than a couple of hours.
Anyway, time with friends and family is important to us, and
this would be the last chance to spend some time away with some people who are incredibly
special in our lives. Our eldest son in particular revels in these weekends away
in the bush and they are some of his best memories – even if he is the team
leader of the vomit brigade.
So we said ‘yes’. But I’d be lying if I didn’t note that we
had second thoughts the night before. Our preparation for leaving Zambia was
going more slowly than anticipated. And now we had to plan for a weekend away.
These weekends in the bush require a lot more advanced planning than your
normal Western weekend away. That includes buying all your food for the weekend
– there no supermarkets in the bush, and my archery skills were not going to
feed my family.
Anyway, we managed to set off on time and without forgetting
anything crucial. And the dirt roads turned out to be in a much better condition
than anticipated. That is until the final 25 miles – when all of the fillings
in our teeth got a good workout. And to add to the ‘adventure’ of those final few
miles, Solo beat his elder brother in the vomiting stakes. But we’re now
prepared for these things (well, as prepared as you can be), and we quickly got
the towel at his feet in front of his face and managed to catch most of what
came up. In case you’re wondering, Solo also won the sweepstakes on the return trip
– when we were just 10 minutes from home….
The other unforeseen issue was that the twins picked up a
stomach bug by the time we arrived at our campsite. They were happy enough, and
there was some upside with longer naps than usual. However, we did have to change
some of the nastiest diapers you’ve ever seen – about 5 times a day – per twin
– that’s 10 diapers total, per day – for a 4 day weekend!
And to add to my own set of woes, Mrs C is currently
suffering from some sort of nausea affliction where she frequently feels like
throwing up. Mom – don’t get your hopes up – she is most definitely not
pregnant! She thinks its most likely an
anxiety related thing – resulting from our upcoming move and some challenges
some close friends are going through. Anyway, it means that yours truly is on
deck when it comes to most of the diapers. And I’m in no way resentful…. And I
absolutely am not childish enough to be keeping score – but she’s changing the
next 37 poo-filled diapers…
The setting for the weekend definitely made up for the challenges
of the trip. We were staying in a cabin on a hill overlooking a lake. There
were all sorts of rock piles for the kids to clamber over, and it’s great to
let them run off and explore knowing they’re in a safe environment. The nice
thing about this particular lake is that it’s the only body of water I’m aware
of in Zambia where you don’t have to worry about crocs or hippos, which is
always a bonus if your preference is to avoid being eaten.
As I mentioned, our eldest son loves these weekend
adventures. What he also loves is hanging out with one of his cousins. They
have this incredible little relationship that you wouldn’t initially assume
would be possible. He’s pretty chilled but not always the most adventurous. She’s
‘spirited’ (my description) / ‘rage-ful’ (her mom’s description). But together
they just work. They sit, and hang out, and explore together. It’s a
relationship that we are so sad to see disrupted. However, we are incredibly
thankful that they have been able to form this bond and we will work to ensure
it survives some distance and less frequent meetings.
There always seem to be some unique memories from these
trips for our kids – whether its seeing a fish eagle take a fish from a river, finding
a hollow baobab tree full of bats, or having your afternoon snack stolen by the
monkeys. Or as on this trip, sitting
through an enormous night time thunder storm, including an ear-shattering
lighting strike about a 100 yards away.
The lesson for us as parents is not to let inconvenience get
in the way of the memories. I heard a podcast some time ago in which the
interviewee said he challenged himself to have a new experience every month –
and he kept a spreadsheet to track it (you can see why I instantly warmed to
him….). The new experience for him could be anything from going somewhere new,
trying a new type of food, going to an event he would not normally go to (like
a Shakespeare play), or even just driving home from work a way he had never
So ‘yes’ to more inconvenience if it also means ‘yes’ to
more experiences. Our eldest two will remember their final time in the bush in
Zambia for many years. The memories of the diapers and the travel sickness
already feel like distant memories… Okay, maybe give it another couple of
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste the experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.