Africa Travel Jitters

gorilla-kisses-bwindi-impenetrable-national-park-uganda1The long distraction of our impending trip to Africa is coming to a close. The mental rehearsals of packing and organizing are giving way to actual packing, selection and rejection of items, organization of papers and reviewing the weather channel with an eye on the next blizzard. The challenge of packing for hours of driving (from coastal Maine to Portland) at the tail end of a blizzard, followed by 36 hours of air travel and descending on the tarmac in equatorial Africa has our heads throbbing. I would like to get in motion. Instead I have to organize the house for five weeks of absence.

One of my concerns is the day-to-day management of money. Credit cards are iffy in Uganda and Madagascar. I will be carrying several thousand dollars, more cash than I ever have before. Where to secrete it on my body and how to modestly access it has my mental wheels turning.

We are taking “travel shirts and pants.” These are the poly/pro, overly-zippered, wash and wear clothes that scream, “I am travelling to the tropics.” They look ridiculous, like sails with vents. They convert from pants to shorts and back again. They have more pockets and straps than a knapsack. They have “insect repellant” qualities. They have special SPF qualities. They are clammy and cool and uncomfortable. I hate them.

Yet we don’t know where we will have laundry facilities. We will frequently be without electricity and running water. We know it will be hot, humid and AC free. We are advised to have lightweight pants that will tuck into socks or boots to keep the red army ants at bay while tracking gorillas.

Did I say gorillas? Have you ever worried about your spouse (or yourself) making a faux pas in a social setting? You know what I mean. Meeting the new boss or the child’s new flame might prompt the admonition, “Whatever you do, dear, do not bring up… ”

Well, socializing with mountain gorillas raises the ante exponentially. “Do not make eye contact, sudden movements or exclamations, dear. They will tear you apart, limb from limb, if you give offense.” [Editor’s note: there will be no sudden movements from me, promise. – Debbie]

We are not campers. We like our showers. We like our deodorant. We will see.

Image: mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda

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