Mid-August we hopped a plane bound for nearby Namibia for what I believe is our last “adventure vacation” for at least a decade, maybe more. I hate admitting that, but there are some universal truths about parenthood. This is one. It’s time to tone it down. Ten days of bumping from town to town in a little VW on washboard gravel roads with a 1 year old belted into her car seat is NO ONE’S idea of a good time. Jaw-dropping scenery, roadside baboons and warthog families be damned, LET’S JUST GET THERE ALREADY!!!!!
This vacation was inspiring and refreshing in an exhaustingly different way. In the close quarters of a hotel room, it’s hard to get a respectable nights sleep. I don’t think I had one in those ten days we were gone. I just kept soldiering on. One drizzly morning, trying to get a nice early start for another 7 hour drive, I requested that we locate a cup of coffee before leaving town. Snakes actually had the nerve to say, “I’ll never understand people who absolutely need their coffee in the morning.” I could smell the smoke coming out of my ears and if not for the fact that the Bushbaby had just dozed off again I may have started screaming, snarling then sobbing. Who says that to a sleep deprived, caffeine deficient bushbaby mama??? Seriously.We arrived Friday afternoon, picked up the rental car and immediately headed toward the dunes. The guide book had assured us that it was a simple 4 1/2 hour drive from the airport to our lodge. I hastily assumed the “quick route” was also the most direct which I plotted on the map. (Turns out I was wrong, though consulting the guide book after the fact, I learned that we’d taken the “most spectacular route”. So there was that.) The “direct route” (or most spectacular, as it were) took nearly twice as long. In fact almost every drive did. Just when you are about 20 minutes past the point of true exasperation, you’ve got about an hour more to go. Namibia is HUGE!!!! We spent one full day “hiking” the dunes. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, such a dramatic and lonely landscape. I would have loved to spend entire days watching the light and perspective shifting as the hours slipped on by. As it was, we arrived late, hiked in, snapped a few shots and returned to the lodge to “relax”. The next morning we left for a couple of nights in the coastal town of Swakopmund. From there we drove northeast toward Etosha National Park stopping for one night about an hour and a half south of the park. The next couple of days were spent driving around the park on a self-guided safari. It was a pretty cool experience but I think we were all past our limit for time locked in the car. Bushbabies need their freedom. She’s on the brink of walking and is incredibly eager to show it off to anyone interested in her antics. I made the mistake of letting her “car-seat surf” while we were ambling through the park checking out zebra, giraffe, oryx and elephant herds. Even though it was a temporary solution, you can imagine how compliant she was to be strapped in afterward. I should never have clued her in that there were other options. With our second R&R just around the corner in October, we’ve decided to rein in our ambitions. Initially I was planning to visit friends in London, then Brussels and maybe swing through Paris for a few days where we could meet up with Snakes and continue on to explore Portugal for another week or so. Haha. That idea makes me laugh, then immediately look around for a place to lie down and take a nap. So we’ve decided to distill it to the most basic and direct: a straight flight to Lisbon, renting an apartment for the week then onward to Porto where we’ll stay for another stretch of time. I want this vacation to take shape around the loose structure of time and location. And the rock solid promise of a nice cup of coffee each morning.