Two zebras
Photo by Geran de Klerk / Unsplash

Less than two weeks. Time to drag out the luggage and start packing. This time don't forget the deodorant!

About twelve hours ago I was unloading my car from ten days on the road. When I walked into my kitchen, quite a sight: on my poor beleaguered tree, raccoons had torn down most of my birdfeeders and once again, strewn them all over the yard, laying waste to about $500 worth of feeders, food and hard work.

Well, damn.

At this point, when I leave for Africa and leave someone in charge, the feeders are largely coming down for one reason only: I am tired of coming home to destruction despite my  best efforts, and besides, coming into spring and summer, the birds simply don't need to be fed. Food is abundant.

It will be in Africa as well, although May is still rainy season, by the calendar. So far this year, people have waited in vain for the regular rains, so what I see for the four weeks I am in Tanzania and Kenya might be a little different. Towards the end of May is the beginning of dry season, and the wildebeest will again be on the move. Researching past articles about today's destinations might lead to real disappointment.

Still, it's Africa, and there is much to love and be discovered, even as the world is changing everywhere, and tourists are welcomed with open arms.

Both Kenya and Tanzania have dropped most of the entry requirements around Covid and I am now double-boosted. While that doesn't  make me invincible, at least it makes me less susceptible to really serious episodes, even as new variants also bloom in time for spring.

That said, for those who are curious, my operator is sending me at long last to  Ngorngoro Crater, which I've never seen, back to the Serengeti, which I miss, and a return to the Maasai Mara, which is changing far too fast. With immense pleasure I am returning to the same site on the river as last year, which pleases me no end, and I can't wait to report again about the resident wandering hippo.

This time around he's planning plenty of rest and writing days into the schedule which not only gives me a cost break but time to capture what I've seen and experienced.

I also just got an email informing us that Mongolia is now up for travelers, but that has to wait until 2023. Still just the fact that they are open is like an early Christmas gift. At least until they close again.

I am dying to get back into the habit of doing this several times a year.

One lesson I've learned from being stuck in one place for too long is how much we forget. Pre-Covid I traveled at least three or four times a year, setting up the packing, making good choices around what to bring and what to leave behind. When I packed up for Africa last summer you'd have thought I was going for the very first time.

What that did was remind me of how much we lose when our skills aren't in play. We still have them, of course, but they gather dust and get rusty when we don't apply the skills, knowledge and know how we have. For example, if you called on me to do an impromptu speech right this very second in front of an audience, I'd be okay, but my stage craft wouldn't be up to par. And the crispness of the delivery would suffer.

Alpaca peeking
Photo by Joakim Honkasalo / Unsplash

Those things said, as with all of us creeping out from under quarantine blankets and returning to the world at large, it's not what we've lost, but what we've allowed to slumber, slip away or sink into relative oblivion.

My dear friend Melissa and I were talking about this today. I'd taken off for ten days on the road, managed to forget deodorant and shampoo and conditioner and a slew of VERY OBVIOUS things which I had to purchase en route.

I over-packed clothing. Classic. Brought fancy stuff I never wore (the high heels ate my feet after one night).  All of this made me laugh out loud. Here I am The Great Traveller, or so I think, and I can't remember to check my damned toiletries.

If nothing else, this time around I am reminded that the nature of the trip, driven in part by the fact that my left hand isn't functioning very well, is less about extreme adventure and more about experiences, observations and interactions. Those are in and of themselves plenty  adventurous, even as I slowly but surely ramp up for a return to Kilimanjaro next year.

It's a constant lesson in how we are changing, adapting and becoming. While the body is in repair mode, I can still travel. I just need to ratchet back on the hard stuff until training allows me to leap back aboard.

For Penny, who wanted me to write about travel, I am also getting emails from my horse outfitters. As a one-time rider, you can appreciate my joy as I see those open back up. Costs have become an issue, so some discipline is in order to make these happen. It's less the cost of the trip itself than the cost to fly there.

What am I willing to give up so that I can do these trips again? A lot, I reckon. We'll see. For even as the world opens up, the price tag has skyrocketed. I've got to find more ways to cut costs in order to keep doing what I love, which is very much the theme for so many of us these days.

As for that briefly-planned trip to Florida? Canned. By the time I researched airfares, car rentals and all the rest, I had the value of most of a trip overseas to a destination not marked by ancient youthful angst and longing. Even miles were expensive. A roundtrip via miles with United is what could also get me back to Ecuador or Argentina.

Sooooo.....shall I go to my 50th reunion and have most of the class shun me like they did last time?

Or shall I leap aboard a west wind, spread my proverbial wings and land where Fate may take me?

GEEEE. Wonder what I'm gonna do.

Dandelions are everywhere in Finland in Spring!
Photo by Saad Chaudhry / Unsplash

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