Under African Skies

My baby is in Africa.I have no way of being in touch with her, not that she’s wanting to chat. I’m certain she is otherwise occupied. Once, when she was over for dinner while we were in Florida she was using our wifi to download and read some of her course packet for this trip. It included the itinerary and after she left I saved it to a file. Now I read it, day by day. How pathetic is that? I think I’m one of those helicopter parents: hovering,hovering,hovering. It’s an art form really, to stay aloft and relatively motionless.
Wed 16 May: Drive Maun to Xakanaxa. Travel Day.
Shuttle bus to JNB International Airport.  Depart on scheduled flight JNB to Maun, Botswana.  Upon arrival in Maun we drive about 140 km’s (4 – 5 hours) to the Xakanaxa region of Moremi Game Reserve. This area is situated along permanently flooded Okavango channels and enjoys a range of good game area, making it perfect as an exciting beginning to our safari. On our second day, we enjoy a boat cruise to the Gudigwa heronries, a profusion of water breeding birdlife.

It’s maintenance week around here. I’ve decided to warm up slowly before racing off to the dentist’s office. First we do the eyes, then tomorrow a new doctor. A new doctor is fairly nerve wracking. I’ve had the same lovely woman as my internist since I was 28 and we were simpatico. I long ago stopped being self-conscious about the annual half hour of maximum exposure and there was no one I would rather have looking at every centimeter of my epidermis under a magnifying glass once I developed a tendency to basal cell carcinoma. The best thing was that she trusted my own sense of things so if I called once every four or five years and said, "Yikes! I need a Z-Pak, here are my symptoms" she would call it in without the usual "Can you come in at 3:45?" One time she even helped me drug that African explorer when she went through a phase where she had a terrible fear of flying. Now I have to start over so tomorrow I’ll go over to Northwestern Medical Center and see my new internist. Who is much younger than me. She probably isn’t familiar with the two pounds a year after age 50 syndrome. She probably has stiff paper gowns and the office is over air conditioned. Oh dear, oh dear.  I should probably figure out a new form of mass transit while I’m at it and leave the car in the garage but I won’t. I’d be all sweaty just from getting there. Instead I’ll be 15 minutes late because I will have been circling the block looking for a meter and getting all churned up so I have artificially high blood pressure or something.
So today I went to get my eyes examined and I picked out new glasses. I was initially excited that there was a new vision store right on Halsted so I could walk but it ended up catering to the chic young things who also buy their scanty fitness outfits on one side and their short flippy Betsey Johnson dresses on the other. That meant that all the frames were very expensive and too small to house progressive lens. I was going to do something bold and daring but the cardinal red frames were 380.00. As it was, even with vision insurance, I paid a lot for regular glasses and sunglasses. The optometrist looked too young to be out of high school but she seemed to know her stuff. Called me "monocular." Huh. But then she admired how well my blind eye tracks (It’s always reassuring to hear that it hasn’t taken on a separate life and just wandered off) and she said my distance vision in the one eye was better than 20/20. I knew that. Good for bird watching.
I knew all about the bears and seals and passed with flying colors, even under the auspices of the most senior staff member (27 years). I’ll tell you more about that when my eyes aren’t all weird and scratchy from those yellow drops.
"Be nice to whites; they need you to rediscover their humanity."
                                   Bishop Desmond Tutu

I don’t have any photos that I took in Africa because, of course, I’ve never been. It’s a place I plan on seeing but not yet. So here is a photo of Xakanaxa
, (pronounced Kakanaka unless you can do the Bushman
clicks repesented by the ‘x’s) that I found when I googled images on their safari guide’s website.
That’s the camp in the Moremi game reserve in
the Okovango delta where the Snarl sleeps tonight. Part of her responsibility for this trip is to present short informational lectures around the campfire and I know she was working on one about water conservation in the Okovango delta. I wonder if she is doing that right now? (hover,hover,hover)


In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing round my nursery door
I said take this child, lord
From tucson arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she wont bother you no more
                                        (Paul Simon, African Skies)


14 responses to “Under African Skies

  1. I’m sorry your baby is far away and incommunicado at the moment. She’s touch bases soon, right? And Bravo on passing your test.

    I hate finding a new Dr. And because of our moves, I’ve had to do so 4x in the past 8 years. Did I say, I hate it? I wept over my dr. when we left PA. That’s not hyperbole. While I’d only had him for 4 months before we left, in that time he diagnosed and began a treatment plan for a condition I had for 10 years and NO ONE else took seriously. So, I’m feeling you, I am I am. But, you know, this new dr. could be seriously cool. It could happen, just sayin.

    As for the glasses… I have this secret fantasy (yeah, yeah, not so secret NOW) of being able to walk into one of those stores and buy 3 pairs and not bat an eye at the price tag. You know, I’d be the Imelda Marcos of eyewear if I could. I actually bought a demure pair of frames this time, because when I put on the rocking pair, I noticed that I have, um, a few wrinkles around my eyes. No point in making THAT obvious for the world. Which reminds me, I should get these gray roots dyed ASAP. Yeah, no need to tell me I’ve vain. Ha!

    Holding good thoughts for your baby who is far away. And for you as letting babies fly unfettered is such a chore*. (*Not my first word choice.) Blessings!

  2. I love your term, helicopter mom. I don’t think one ever stops doing that. I do so envy her time in Africa. When I was younger, I just knew I was going to be a missionary in Africa. I knew the map of the continent like the back of my hand, and then they changed the names of the countries. I ended up in Haiti instead, which I loved, but it didn’t have quite the adventure that I imagine Africa would hold. I’d still like to do a safari sometime.

    When I think about moving, finding new doctors is one of the things that I fear most. My primary care physician has been my doctor for 34 years. We had our children at the same time.

    Hope you arrive and there is a parking spot with your name on it.

  3. A wonderfully newsy post, as usual. I know how it feels to have a child so many miles away, and it ain’t good. I will pray that she survives, but Lord, that is a beautiful spot to go to! I do love me some water lilies!

    Eyeglass frames are out-of-sight, cost wise. The last ones I got were only $85 (frames only) from Sam’s and so far, they have stayed together better, and need less adjusting than all the $250+ ones I got from the fancy places.

    I had no doubt you’d pass that test with flying colors, and probably with honors!! Good luck with the new doc. I got a new one about 2 years ago, and so far she has been a blessing.

  4. The hovering like a helicopter – very true! I wonder if it ever ends? When my daughter was 8 hours away at college, I rarely heard from her during her fresh/soph years – she was overly busy so I lived vicariously through the university website (stupid, I know)and e-mailed her very day. Occasionally she’d reply. But heck, your daughter is clear across the ocean! You’ll hear from her soon!

    Moving always presents the awful task of finding new doctors? I always feel the scrutiny. Ughhhh.

  5. *Helicopter Parent* should be on a tee-shirt. That is me, too, all over. If I had that and the one you described in your Mother’s day post, I’d be set.

  6. I dread the day my only child leaves for college. In about a year. I am too much a helicopter parent.

    Sounds like your child will be in for a life altering experience, though. Good on her. My husband has been to Africa many times, all for work. His father for there in the old days when safaris were not politically incorrect.

    I hate going through the new doctor process, too. Yuk. And eyeglasses? Yikes! I have bifocals and that jacks up the price right there.

    I knew you’d be good with the test on animals! Congrats.

  7. My God Woman . . . if you didn’t hover and obsess while your child is in Africa, you wouldn’t be human! Seriously. I know my mother would be worried and thinking about me if I went to Africa . . .

    The doctor thing. Best of luck. I’ve been blessed with two fantastic doctors in my adult life. Wishing some of that luck to you, too!

    Congrats on the bear/seal test! You rock!

  8. I love the image of you reading Snarl’s itinerary. There’s something so touching about that. Africa is so far away, and yet, the lilies in our pond look just like those in the photograph. Blooming under the same sun, beneath African skies.

  9. There is much poignancy beneath your humor. Robin Andrea’s comment is lovely and just right, as always.

    I shall think of you as I hold tree pose with lotus flower hands above my head.

  10. The entire picture could be here in Florida somewhere.
    Are you sure she got on the plane?

    Congrats on passing your test.

  11. So, was the spectacled bear the one with glasses? Is there no humor left at the zoo… it’s ALL happening at the zoo!

    Your baby is in Africa. My baby is still up to her eyeballs in final exams. She made a B in Physics! No matter that her father is a PhD physicist… she is not a physics person. This is an accomplishment. Still has a paper due today and I don’t know what else. 45 minutes away and she comes down here maybe three times during the semester. I think I have done well with the helicopter thing… and just think… she hasn’t even e-mailed me a paper to proofread this final exam session….yet!

    Sometimes I think we mothers need a bit of hovering. We have hovered over husbands (even ex ones), children, jobs, aged parents etc. I look up sometimes and can’t see or hear any helicopters hovering overhead… when do we get our helicopters?

  12. If she can’t hear you – you aren’t hovering, only caring. I’d be waiting at each reasonable stop. (maybe not, but I’d sure think about it really hard)

    Under force of insurance I went to a new doctor just last month. She was a delight, better than the last even. Just got a letter she’s leaving the country to do some sort of charity work. Totally figures.

  13. It’s nice that you hover, hover, hover. But she’s a big girl….you know that.

  14. As I think I’ve said to you before, you’re a good mama. And any good mama needs to wonder what is happening to her child. For godsakes, if my dad doesn’t hear from me for 2 days he goes nuts. But both he and my mother know that when I travel I’ll be safe and write tons of email *maybe*…

    I hate finding new doctors. Do you know in all my time in A2…I still go back to Flint to my old doctors?

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