L’Américaine

I don’t know what it is. Is it the backpack that arouses suspicion? But I don’t always wear it.

It can’t be the camera either. Because I’ve been leaving that at the apartment after I realized I can take good-enough pictures with my iPhone at a fraction of the  ... 

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Europe by Rail with Four Kids

I must be insane.

At least that’s what everyone tells me. But it was either flying through creation just to see the grandparents, or flying through creation to see the grandparents and a bunch of really cool cities.

Who doesn’t want to see some cool European cities?

Our family, that’s who.

Or I should ... 

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Traveling Premier Classe

The following is a guest post by Natalie Irwin about traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town on the Premier Classe Train. One of the few regrets I have about our time in South Africa is that we never managed to do just that, and I was very happy to get at small glimpse of it through her story.

Even though we’ve lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for two and a half years, we had never managed to visit Cape Town. I guess we were waiting for the right time but finally realized that if we didn’t want to miss out on Cape Town altogether, we had to just go.

So, ... 

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No Regrets

Not only is the year 2012 coming to an end today. Today also marks the end of our family’s life in South Africa. As you’re reading this, we are somewhere en route between Joburg and Tennessee, making a last splash in an undisclosed Middle Eastern location – okay, Dubai, if you must know – before reality sets in again.
Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, August 2012
So forgive me if I feel the need to make some sweeping observations not only about this past year but our entire African adventure. I have no regrets. When we came to Johannesburg in early 2010, we had the benefit of having a prior expat assignment under our belts. That made a huge difference – not so much in terms of navigating a new country but in terms of our attitude towards it and life in general. What I mean is we knew to leave out nothing from the start. I was greatly helped in this by my farsighted husband Noisette, I admit, because I am by nature a couch potato. If there is a computer on my lap, that is. I remember that as an expat novice in Singapore some fifteen years ago I focused all my energies on forging a routine and willing my surroundings to function as I wished. Because that’s what new mothers do. Routine is king and you enslave yourself to it. But the truth is that afterwards you don’t remember the routine. You remember the time you sped over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river in a water taxi, even though you threw up afterwards from breathing all the diesel fumes. Or you might have thrown up because you were pregnant. You remember the giant waves lapping into your undersized motorboat taking you to some godforsaken island off the Malaysia coast. You remember the time you stood on the highest mountain in New Zealand clutching your two-year old on skis, afraid that he’d be blown right out to sea by that howling wind. You remember feeling transported back in time when touring Pulau Ubin off the shores of Singapore, pedaling your bike with a napping toddler behind you through sleepy Kampongs. Those are the things your remember, and you regret not having done more of them. Because what else will you have one day to look back on than a bunch of memories? So here in South Africa we dove right in from Day One. We went on our first safari with the house still a mess of boxes fresh from the container. We rode in a hot air balloon, in a helicopter, on elephants, on dune buggies, and on camels. Put endless hours in noisy and bouncy safari vehicles under our belts for the privilege to watch lions, giraffes, buffalos, elephants, impala, waterbuck, rhinos, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, and even a leopard. Toured Soweto. Went into the notorious no-go zone of Alexandra, many times. Drove women and their firewood through Diepsloot. Visited Cape Town. And Durban. And Umhlanga Rocks. Had the most glorious food and wine in Franschhoek. Explored Mozambique, Mauritius,Zanzibar, Victoria Falls, Botswana. Watched our eldest fling himself from the Bloukrans bridge on a bungy cord and from an airplane with a parachute. Saw African penguins in the wild. Swam in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Okavango. Paddled down the Zambezi. Went into a cage in the freezing Atlantic to come face to face with Great White Sharks. Were kissed by elephants. Dangled from ziplines over the Tsitsikamma forest.

 ... 

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The Birds and the Bees and the Lions Too

[Alert: Graphic images and explicit language]. Good. I can see I have your full attention.

So how many safaris have we been on with our kids here in Africa? Three? Four? Now we go on the first one WITHOUT kids, and what should we get to see the very first afternoon at Banoka Bush Camp?

Mating lions. In fact, it’s the first time we’ve seen anything mate in the wild. If you don’t count the odd dragon flies over our pool.

How cool would that have been for the kids, I ask you? And, more importantly,
 ... 

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Road Trip

As you are reading this we are well into our road trip across Namibia, another glorious country of Southern Africa we were determined to see while we live here.

We might have already seen gigantic red sand dunes.
We might have surfed down one of those dunes.
We might have seen lions.
 ... 

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Diving in the Red Sea

This will be the final part of my Traveling to Egypt with Kids series.

But never fear, it won’t involve nearly as much reading as the previous ones. The reason being that it didn’t involve nearly as much whining by the kids. Because this is the story about what we mainly came to do in Egypt, which is diving in the Red Sea.

And what can’t you do while ... 

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