Five Months Done

We have hit the five-month mark.

Looking Back

This month started with the thrill of an African safari. Seeing the Big Five (African elephant, African lion, African leopard, White/Black rhino, and Cape buffalo) up close in their natural habitats was amazing. We learned so much from our ranger about the ecology of northeast South Africa and sharpened our observations skills at the same time. We all came away with deeper understandings about the ways humans affect the environment and the ways the environment affects humans.

African elephants and white rhinos under a tree in South Africa

We learned about a dark side to human nature in Johannesburg. “Other-ism” in all its forms is hurtful and deadly. In this case, we learned about South Africa’s history of racism and its system of apartheid. We also had this month’s last period of sit-back-and-relax time here. It was good for schooling as well as preparing for India.

South Africa’s Freedom Charter carved in stone

Our three weeks in India were busier than most of the rest of the trip. We made seven stops, staying between 1 and 4 nights in each place. We used a travel agency to make our arrangements in India, and we were cared for very well by our guides, drivers and hotel staff. I am so grateful for our ability to experience both the high-end of India’s hospitality in the big city, as well as the more everyday family life in the country.

Travel Style

One thing hampered my mood, though, and that was the extended lack of autonomy about my days. We planned all three months of Europe ourselves, down to every museum, meal, and meet-up with friends. That ended when we began our tour of Morocco, and although we had our days to plan for ourselves in Cape Town and Johannesburg, most of the last six weeks have been directed by others. It was very, very nice at first, to have had our arrangements made for us. I wouldn’t have tried to do Morocco or India any other way. Now that I had my hand held through them, I would like to try more independent travel next time. Fifteen weeks of completely independent travel was too much of one way (What do you mean I have to figure out what we’re doing today? I just did that yesterday!) and six weeks of mostly guided travel was too much of another. I’ll use both experiences to shape our plans for part two of our world tour.


Most of this month was filled with self-doubt about my efforts to teach the girls. This trip reminds me of many things, including my first year of teaching and my first year of parenthood, so when I do remember those years I relax a bit. They are reading a lot, writing almost daily in their journals, and having many, many discussions about the experiences we have in each place. We are on a year-long field trip. I could stand to remember that more than I do and set my expectations for myself accordingly.

In the last week, though, I got some of that positive feedback that helps me know the kids are alright and are actually learning. First, our guides in Mumbai were incredibly impressed with how much the kids knew about India’s history and culture. The guides in Jaipur and Agra and Rishikesh appreciated their great questions, too. I was so glad to see our experiences come together for the kids. It’s not as much as a blur as I feared. The other feedback came just this morning at breakfast. We were all reading the paper - Singapore’s The Straits Times - when they found articles about New Delhi’s pollution problems and a mention of an artist’s debut at the Edinburg Fringe Festival and the sad news of a fire ripping through shanties in a Mumbai slum. They were all delighted to be able to connect to information in the news, to know about a place or event mentioned. I was delighted, too.


Gianna, Tori, and Zoe swimming in Singapore My family and I are incredibly blessed. I don’t think I ever forget it, but I am often awe-struck by the way it shows up on this trip. As Theo mentioned in September when asked to discuss work-life balance at Heinrich and Lena’s wedding, he put in a tremendous amount of time and energy into his work for the 18 years before this trip. A lot of that time was spent on the road, in the air, overseas, away from me and the kids. We’re enjoying the rewards of those years of sacrifice and sweat now. First of all, that we’re even able to take this trip is a huge reward (as well as big commitment on our parts to just figure it out and do it, no excuses). But if you’ve seen the George Clooney/Anna Kendrick film “Up in the Air”, you know frequent travelers earn perks with their preferred hotel and airline brands that ease their travels. We’re enjoying those perks, too.

Theo and Asha at Pizza by the Bay in MumbaiEven more than the shorter lines and free breakfasts, though, are the people. We know people all over the world. We’ve been honored to have meals with friends in Greece, Sweden, Germany, Spain, France and India. There are friends and family in Singapore, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Peru, just to name a few more spots. Even friends of friends are reaching out and families of friends have offered meals. It’s all a level of hospitality, connection and welcoming that I hope to pay forward.

General Information

Where we were.

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Where we are.

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Where we're going.

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