Ellie leaves for South Africa today. She is going to a private animal reserve near East Cape and Queensland. She will be gone for almost two weeks. And oh my, will we miss her. She says that she feels a little bad about leaving since that will mean that we will be kidless during that time. I told her that we are thrilled the she is brave enough to go on such an adventure. When I was her age my grand adventure was my driving an hour and a half away to visit Colorado State University. My girl is going half way around the world to see a whole new culture.
She is going on a photo safari. The reserve has a conservation program that is aimed at bringing back a few of the species on the extinction list. Ellie is traveling with Kohlton and his father to Washington. Once there, they will meet up with about 12 or 14 other people where they will travel to Senigal to refuel. From there they will go onto Johannesberg. They will spend the night there and then drive to the reserve. It will take them two days to get there.
There are 11 people who work on the reserve doing the laundry (which has to be done every day. Mark (Kohlton's father) says that everything in Africa, including the plants, is out to get you in some way and that every day you will return from the bush very stinky and smelly.) Anyway, there are 11 people who do the laundry, cook the food, take care of the hotel rooms, etc. They all live in a local, rural village. They people Ellie is traveling with are taking gifts to leave for those people. Mark and Kohlton are taking solar charged flashlights.
A friend of mine who grew up in South Africa says that people in the rural parts need very basic stuff and that containers that are not plastic bags or cardboard boxes, are hard to come by. With that in mind we made cloth bags with drawstrings. We filled them with bandanas, American candy in boxes (TicTaacs), safety pins, etc. She will likely add to it once she is there. We picked stuff that we hope will be useful, but not too big or too heavy for her to take with her. Afterall, she really can't take much in her luggage.
I will feel better once she is on the reserve. Until then, I will worry a bit. I know that Mark will take care of her just as if she was his daughter, but still, Senegel is a dangerous place. I look forward to getting emails from her while she is there.