Sunday, January 20, 2008

The apple, the tree

A couple years ago, over tea in Darfur, the conversationwith my colleagues turned to the travels of our parents. It was interesting to me that the parents of most of my Irish and English friends had never left their own countries until very recently. And when they did leave, it was to go somewhere close and fairly easy, like France.

In contrast, I have to say I always had pretty adventurous parents. My father (who is English) spent months hitchhiking around the U.S. when he was 21. (I just found out that during those travels, he was taken to see an as-yet nearly unknown Bob Dylan perform in a small mid-Western bar. I always find it a little disorienting to think of my dad doing something cool like that.) My mom, for her part, took a year off before college to save up money to travel around Europe. Both of them went to Kenya in 1972, when mom was pregnant with my oldest sister, a very long and expensive trip at the time.

Even my older relatives were travelers – my grandmother took a year’s sabbatical in the 70s for round-the-world trip, even going to such remote places as Afghanistan and Cambodia. My great-aunt Sally performed around the world as part of an all-girl jazz band, and was living in the Philippines at the time of World War II (she spent several years in a Japanese concentration camp as a result).

So it's no surprise that my sisters and I all love to travel as well. Unfortunately for my parents, the 70s and 80s were not as prosperous as the times we live in now, so most of our vacations were spent in cars and tents, driving around the National parks of the American West (which I am not knocking!). As it was, we only took one big trip when I was a kid, when we spent a month in Europe, and a month visiting my family in England. I was 9 years old, and I was smitten. The castles, the old medieval back-alleys, the stories of crusades and royal intrigue...I knew then I wanted to see as much of the world as possible.

When they finally got all three of us girls off to college, my parents' plan was to travel as much as they could. Unfortunately, because my mom fell sick, that didn't happen for her. But I'm very proud of my dad, who has been so many exciting places in the last 10 years, making up for lost time. He claims to be envious of all the traveling I get to do, but he's easily been as many places as I have.

Now he can add to his list Malawi and South Africa, after visiting me over the holidays. Since you have heard a lot about Malawi over the last year, I won't go into much detail on that part of the trip. But here are some photos:

Dad and me on Christmas Day at the Kapani Lodge. What I love about this place is just how much they spoil you over the holiday!

Sundown at the Luangwa River. With us are our two friends, Cassandra and Todd.

Me on safari

And of course, must always boast about the lion sightings. This is one of the two we saw last year with Miriam. The other was unfortunately shot by a hunter (it's legal if they wander out of the park grounds) earlier this year. Such a shameful waste.

The rains have been heavy this year, and the road was very bad in stretches.

We went to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, where you can do a canoe safari with the hippos. Although you can't see it, the Shire River is behind me about 250 feet.

Zomba Forest Lodge, which is just a lovely place to relax.

This is Solomon, the rightly-proud chef at the Zomba Forest Lodge, showing off our New Year's Eve feast.

Happy New Year!


Jennifer said...

Hey, Gwyneth! I just wanted to tell you I'm so glad you're back ... I was very worried with my pregnant buddy out of touch for so long. It looks like you had some great adventures!

Joy said...

Oh my... Dad in a bar with Bob Dylan. That is the kind of thing that makes your head spin...