Experiences > Convenience
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 driven before.
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 months.
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.Eleanor Roosevelt