Debra – Into Africa

The faithful have seen the photo-blog I did of the Africa trip.  Today I thought I’d add some words.  Just snippets of this and that.  Little things that you might find amusing.  Some of these moments were not so amusing as they happened.  Others were hysterical.

I packed the night before.  I don’t mean I put carefully considered pre-folded and organized things into my rolling duffle.  I mean I started from scratch and packed about 10 p.m. for a 6 a.m. airport run.  I did have a medical kit ready to go because the travel medicine clinic made sure I had one when I got my shots.  What makes this frightening is that unlike other road trips, there is no Target around the corner.

The long flight time is expected.  I brought plenty of things to amuse myself: sock knitting, quilting magazines, contracted books to edit, a travel diary, quilting magazines, DVD’s, Angry Birds…  But my sister, who is heroically raising her two young grandsons, doesn’t get much adult TV time.  Flights this long always have plenty of TV programming.  I think she watched every movie and every television show loaded onto the plane’s hard drive.  She doesn’t get out much, which explains why I could hear her laughing *through* my headset.  Her new nickname is Giddy McGiggles.  She woke up people in first class.  (Hint:  we weren’t IN first class.)

This was a private safari, but some friends of my Uncle’s were accompanying us.  I hadn’t met them and Amsterdam was my first chance to meet them.  Lovely people.  Two “sets” of them.  One was a lovely family of five.  The dad is an adventure traveler.  He had packed the entire family in ONE large rolling duffle.  I’m not kidding.  That bag will forever be known to me as the clown car of luggage.  (clothes just kept coming out it with no end in sight)  The other family of three (mom, grown son and fiancee) had an entire Rover of camera equipment.  The son and fiancee are now working in Hollywood.  Their schedule was: go to Africa, move to LA on March 1st, arrive for interview at the American Film Institute and immediately begin work on big budget movies.  Darned if they didn’t do it.

Meanwhile, I have a new camera I’m not entirely sure I know how to work.  (If you saw the photo blog, you know that I did manage to read the manual.)  Adventure traveler guy is all excited and he whips out his.  Camera!  Geez, focus.  Adventure dude has just bought a camera you put on the windshield of the vehicle to get “the road ahead.”  A very adventure thing to do, no?

One of the places you change planes is Amsterdam.  Everyone (but me) was very bummed that we didn’t have a three hour lay-over during business hours.  You see, that’s the minimum amount of time you need to leave the airport, drive to an establishment serving the “special brownies” and get back to the airport.  My sister had a map and directions…just in case.

But the plane took off as scheduled.  Didn’t really land as scheduled though.  The plane had a mechanical so we spent an extra 8 hours of flight time going from airport to airport.  The Kilimanjaro airport is apparently not a hot bed of mechanical help, so we skipped them, landed in Nairobi, then went to Dar es Salem and finally into JAR (Kilimanjaro).  At one point, Sis in her bears-no-resemblance-to-an-inside-voice sat bolt upright and said, “OH MY GOD.  I’M GOING TO MELT.”  She’s very hot natured is my sis.  Ever had everyone on a plane stare at you?  What really sold her outburst was the way she flapped the front of her shirt up and down.  About three minutes later the flight attendants began serving what can only be described as “Placation Ice Cream.”  My sister’s container (like you got in school?) was missing its spoon.  I tried not to laugh.

Then, once we’d arrived at our destination, we waited in line with 300 other tourists at 4 a.m. in the morning while TWO people processed our visas.  You have to buy the VISA in the airport once you get to Africa.

I thought the heat of everyone in a very small room (resembled a sardine can) was making me a little sick.  I was glad to get out of there.  Then we went to a hotel to change clothes for the half-day DRIVE to the first safari location.  *Remember that we’d just been on a plane for 24 hours.)  At the “hotel,” I thought the unfamiliar smell of some African flowers was making me queasy.  At breakfast, I thought I’d best just push the food around my plate.  I picked at an omelet and ate a half a piece of plain bread.  About thirty minutes down the road, traveling in our three vehicle caravan, I stopped kidding myself and had the driver pull over.  PRONTO.  I flung the door open before the jeep had even stopped and proceeded to blow chunks right out the door.  I believe I now hold the African velocity and distance records in all bile categories.  And I narrowly missed killing a guy on a motorcycle by flinging the door open in front of him just as he tried to cut around our car using the shoulder of the road.  (There is some disagreement on whether I actually threw up on him as well.)

What would make this more awesome?  We were in jeep/rover # 2.  The adventure dude with the high-speed action, forward-facing, windshield-mounted camera was in vehicle # 3.  Right behind us.

I threw up for 5 more hours.  But safaris wait for no man.  Or woman.  Drive.  Stop.  Throw-up.  Drive again.  Even with being so sick, I missed only the first afternoon’s game drive.

I’m what they call a “trouper.”  Are you?  Can you tough it out or is that a sure way to keep you sicker longer?

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22 Responses to Debra – Into Africa

  1. Liz Flaherty says:

    Oh, this is so funny! If it had been me hurling hither and yon for five hours, I’d have been planning my funeral at the same time because I’d be so sure I was on my deathbed but just didn’t ge to lie down. Thanks (to your sister, too) for a hilarious start to the day

  2. Cindy Gerard says:

    Oh man, Deb. What a bummer. Been there done that. And while I feel like the biggest weenie in the bun, I’m told that I ‘soldier’ through.
    Case in point: several years ago I was with 5 of my buddies in a van on the way to our cabin in northern Minnesota. It’s a 10 hour drive. We stopped for breakfast around hour 2 and I immediately started feeling horrible. 30 min later, on the road, I’m pretty sure I’m dying. Roaring trip to the closest ER, 5 hours later I’m at Mayo Clinic. 3 hours after that, I’m diagnoses with an acute gall bladder attack and they want to do surgery immediately. But wait – I’m on vacation and so are my buddies. I can’t let them down! Just give me a little something for the pain and I’ll eat nothing but veggies.
    So I did. My friends told me later that they had a plan just in case I didn’t make it. they were going to lash me to the roof of the van, turn me over every couple of hours and at least I’d have a good tan when they delivered me to the undertaker.
    All kidding aside, it was a rough trip but I made it. AND I went to NYC for the RWA conference the very next week, postponing my surgery yet again – much to my Dr.s dismay. As soon as I got back, they yanked that gall bladder out.
    Hope the rest of your trip was ‘upchuck’ free and I also hope you post more photos sometime soon!

    • debradixon says:

      You win!! You win!! I’ve had my gall bladder out so I know the pain. I bow before the troopiest of all troopers.

      And yes, the rest of the trip was sick-less. 🙂

    • I remember that NYC conference and, because no one really believed you were as sick as you said (because you looked great!) I tried pushing a few drinks your way. You stood your ground and politely refused. Oh, then there was that time in Italy. I had the entire back seat of our van to stretch out and die on. Maybe you were right; maybe that cave (YES CAVE!) we stayed in was unhealthy or haunted. Thank God for Elizabeth Jennings, Italian husband doctor <all 3 actually) who sent medicine my way. Well, if that had been the end of fulfilling my bucket list at least I was surrounded by friends.
      Oh, Deb, when I was in Africa I fell, sliced my knee open a little but thought little of it. Even the afternoon I spent in a hut dreaming (hallucinating) about Harry Belafonte trying to get in.) Finally back in the USA I was put on a "full spectrum"? of antibiotics for my blood poisoning. Wouldn't have missed any of the above.

  3. Linda says:

    Hmmm most women would probably answer soldier on just because that is what we do. I have to give you a two thumbs up for traveling and soldiering on.
    I am the same way unless I am knocked completely out. Kicked in the face by a calf, umm sure finish the day at work and ice it as I can. Go to see human Dr next day when eye is swollen shut and cannot wear my glasses. Now unlike Cindy I was felled by my gallbladder when it decided the time was right for surgery, but then again I had passed a stone into the duct.
    Would love to see more pics, sans the upchucking ones. And hear more of Africa.

  4. Deb, I’m the trouper type. (I was corrected on this once, looked it up, and yep, trouper.) Determined, stubborn, refuse to let anything ruin my plan until it becomes physically impossible to cowboy up (says Hubby) or soldier on (says Daddy). I almost persevered through barely bearable side pain once. Drove 70 miles moving my leg between accelerator and brake by hand. A month later I was down one kidney. Damnable heights can break my stride, though. Hate that.

    Your trip sounds so wonderful. What interesting traveling companions and what incredible sights! I would have had trouble with the heat.
    Did you ever figure out what made you so sick? Was it the ice cream?

    • debradixon says:

      Trouper! Of course, it refers to a show troup and going on with the show, I believe.
      As for me getting sick. We think it was someone on a plane. No one at home was sick. None of the folks in the office was sick, so I had to have picked it up in the airport or on the plane. And with lack of sleep from traveling I was just ready to catch something. But the rest of the trip was fine as long as I didn’t eat.

  5. kylie brant says:

    You’re a trooper. Like you, there’s no way I’d have missed a minute! But it is sooo miserable being sick away from home 😦

  6. michelehauf says:

    Oh, I feel for you! That would have been me, too. My stomach was not designed for travel of any sort. I never eat before flying, because I know… Well, it was worth the suffering, though, eh?

  7. Leanne says:

    Debra, oh, I feel for you! I’m so sorry you got sick, but sheesh, yes you were a true trouper. Am I a trouper? Depends on the situation. I try not to torture myself when it’s not necessary. But, induced labor with no epidural and a hemorrhage and I “soldiered” through.:)

  8. Parker Blue says:

    Sorry you were so sick, but it sure made for an entertaining blog! 🙂

    • debradixon says:

      I also find other people’s misfortunes funny! What’s up with that. I’m a terrible person. LOL!

  9. Vicki Hinze says:

    Only you, Deb. I laughed. Easy because I wasn’t the one doing the hurling. I know that had to be miserable. Glad it didn’t wreck your trip–and how much blackmail is adventure guy charging you not to release the film footage???


  10. What an amazing adventure! But I’m sooo sorry you were so sick. Yet despite it all, you took truly amazing photographs. You were one very strong woman to persevere like you did!!

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