It was in Lusaka, Zambia when the word came that caused us to abort our trip from South Africa to Ethiopia. Actually, just a day before we’d planned to drive up to Kasanka National Park where the fruit bats find refuge. Supposedly these odd looking tawny creatures migrate here every year without fail. Supposedly the project also could use some help… sadly, don’t they all!
My sister’s email read, “I know you’re somewhere enroute to Ethiopia. Mum is not well. We’re flying in (from Australia) on Sunday.” Just a month earlier we’d left her in decent health there in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. But then at age 91 things can change quickly.
With my sister flying in of course we would regroup. We’d simply delay our plans driving to Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia a bit.
Our journey back went smoothly, with an unexpected fabulous elephant encounter south of Pandamatenga, Botswana. Off the main highway there is a large waterhole. We came upon hundreds of elephants, seemingly in separate herds taking turns to come in for a drink. Once they got their fill they moved off to the right to a mud hole for a full body “mask”. Watching these huge beasts wallowing like warthogs was amazing! (Footage included in VIDEO below.)
It was a shock to see my mother’s decline. “It shouldn’t take long,” the attending nurse at the care center offered kindly. My sister and family returned three weeks later on the exact same flight for the memorial service. Gratefully my mother was cognitively lucid to the end and therefore had personally made arrangements for everything. From her favorite hymn to where to spread her ashes.
After a delay of almost two months we were finally back on the road. We chose a route through Mozambique up into Malawi. It was while in our second camp in Mozambique along a gorgeous quiet beach that we had to do it.
It was now way into November, with the rains coming and a need to emotionally regroup it was time to stop and re-evaluate. We needed some time. It’s rather strange to suddenly be next in line! You know, the next generation to be slipping over the edge. Oddly enough it hit Russ and I rather unexpectedly hard. We both felt old.
It was there while sitting under the umbrella with that typical cool ocean breeze that we decided to abort our trip from South Africa to Ethiopia. It would have to wait for another year. For now we’d simply… well, that remained to be determined.