No one wants to spend 25 hours in an airplane/airport; that’s how long it took us to get from Nairobi to Chicago. But if you can get eight hours of quality sleep along the way, it makes conquering jet lag a lot less challenging. And being retired and without any sort of obligations planned the next few days is also very helpful. You can get just as much done between 3am and 9pm as between 7am and 11pm. One of the travelers in our group was a nurse, who was scheduled to work a twelve hour shift the day after she returned home. With the temporary brain damage that jet lag causes, I would not like to be in her ER that first day. But why does Business Class have to cost four times as much as coach? We’re looking ahead to our next international travel adventure this winter and that’s the fare. We got the trip home with frequent flyer miles, but won’t have accumulated enough to do that again. Bummer!
As is often the case our media has given Africa a bad reputation that it doesn’t deserve. People asked us why on earth we would want to go there. Weren’t we afraid of ebola, malaria, terrorism, tummy troubles? Yes, life is different there, but we saw many happy people, living their lives. When you live here it's easy to forget how dangerous our heavily armed country really is. We did not get sick. The people we met were friendly, glad to see us and our dollar filled pockets. We came home ready to appreciate the conveniences of modern life, but sad that when we want to see a lion or leopard, it will be confined to a cage. The East Africans realize that their wealth in animals is irreplaceable and are trying hard to keep the poachers at bay. Striking the balance between people who need to make a living and the needs of the animals will be an ongoing challenge.
For the most part Americans are ignorant about Africa. Even though we have learned so much on this trip, that is still true for us. While the northern African countries (Egypt, Morocco, Algeria) have identities in our minds and South Africa became a news story during the years of apartheid and the presidency of Nelson Mandela, the rest of the continent is still a vast blob that we just think of as "Africa." We have no sense of the cultural, religious, historical, linguistic and political differences between the millions of people who live there. Vast generalizations tell us nothing.
A trip to Africa is a special experience for most people. Many countries there have national parks and animal viewing experiences. Although various parks have their specialties, we looked once again at our photos from South Africa and would have to conclude that you can’t go wrong with either destination.