My blog posts tend to be about the highlights of my trips; however, there are certainly low points as well. Since I’m now safely back in the US, I’ll share the some of the unfortunate incidents that occurred this trip.
During the two years that I lived in Uganda, I never had any major thefts. But after only three nights in Johannesburg, $200 cash was stolen from my hotel room at the Holiday Inn. Some was taken out of my purse and some from the safe in my room. I reported it to the manager, but the “investigation” did not find anything (no big surprise there). Since the hotel is not responsible lost or damaged property, the money is a loss.
Long Work Hours
Working in the country office means working 11- or 12-hour days, due to the time difference with Seattle. The Seattle staff come online around 4:00pm (South Africa time); so just as I was finishing my long day at the Johannesburg office, the emails from Seattle started coming in and needed attention. Work travel was not as exciting as I had anticipated - it's just twice as much computer work.
Due to stress of work (prior to leaving Seattle), my packing job was not very thorough.
TIP: NEVER go to Africa without insect repellent and long socks.
Somewhere between Mozambique and Botswana, the airlines lost my checked luggage. That was almost two weeks ago now, and there has been no word about it. It contains all of my work clothes and shoes, work notebooks and papers, and all of the crafts I bought in South Africa and Mozambique. I’ve talked with two airlines in three different airports (Maputo, Johannesburg, and Maun), and nobody knows where it is. Ugh.
Poor Tour Company Operations
I arrived in Maun, Botswana and went to the Sitatunga Camp, as indicated on my safari itinerary. Unfortunately, the tour company had changed the meeting point and never informed me. After several hours with the Sitatunga office staff calling around, we found my safari group in a different camp. But they said that they could not pick me up because I was too far away (on the other side of town). I had to find my own way to Maun airport to meet them the next day or I’d miss my safari. I was able to hitch a ride with a different tour group, so it worked out in the end. It was just a very stressful way to start my vacation.
On the long travel day of the safari, we all got up at 4:00am to begin the journey, only to find the vehicle had a flat tire.
Later that day, the boat we were on broke down.
During my game drive in Victoria Falls, we also got a flat tire.
And even in Harare, Chiko’s husband had to change a flat tire.
Clearly, this was not the smoothest trip - but let's end on a high note.
- I'm so glad that I was able to meet the PATH field staff in person. It will definitely help build stronger team relationships.
- I'm thankful that I was able to go on field visits in both South Africa and Mozambique. Usually when people from PATH travel, they are stuck in the office the entire time.
- The nine people on my safari were awesome. We came across other groups that had 24 rowdy kids (by 'kids' I mean early 20-somethings). I find it much more enjoyable hanging out with the older, more mature crowd.
- Even though Victoria Falls was quite expensive, it was one of the most incredible natural wonders that I've ever seen. I enjoyed every moment of my three days there.
- And of course, I was reunited with one of my closest friends from grad school.
I love traveling to various countries and seeing the differences in culture, infrastructure, and way of life. Now that I've traveled around Africa quite a bit, I think my next trip will be on a different continent. Southeast Asia? Maybe a European tour? It all depends on opportunity (i.e. work travel, cheap flights, traveling companions, etc.).