Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


Boutique baby fool-I should not be let out of the house without a chaperone

I am obsessed with this blog.

I spent...um...hours? reading it last night.

Maybe it is because the author lives in England and in my daydreams we are a witty little globe trotting family living in Oxford, eternally working on a Ph.D. thesis, attending church in a small stone building from the dawn of history, and riding the chunnel to Paris for long weekends.

Maybe it is because we both have an important J in our blog worlds.
Or maybe it is because she cracks me up and helps me laugh over some of our more awkward adoption moments.

Because it reminds me of last Sunday.

Last Sunday we were driving home from church down a street very close to our house with lots of boutique stores and restaurants when I spotted a new store. Or new to me store.
With baby stuff hanging in the window. Really cute baby stuff!

It's our first kid. I can still afford to daydream about boutique onesies and monogrammed baby carriers. We have not given up and gone straight to Bab.ies R. U.s yet. (Although I'm sure we will before too long. I mean, after we've spent $50 on a onesie and pacifier we may decide the child actually needs more than that to survive.)
So I make J stop the car, I hop out while he goes to the gas station or somewhere equally uninteresting.

I open the door and step into boutique baby heaven. It is quiet. It smells like vanilla and lavendar. I am alone. I reverently pick up a few onesies from the sale rack and stroke them. I go into baby daydream mode. I pet blankets and examine a lot of weird looking accoutrements (sp?) that I have no idea what to do with. My wet shoes squeak quietly as I head up to the cloth diaper section. A fascinating wall display of cloth diapers. But not your mom's cloth diapers. Pre-shaped, buttoned, snapped, velcroed, emroidered, multi-colored, diapers and more diapers.
I start picking them up, examining them, stroking the soft fabric...

Then that inevitable moment. It's happened in other boutique baby stores.

SHE - she of the fertile mommyhood with a giant baby belly and a toddler sitting quietly coloring in the corner - she who works at boutique baby store for the discounts - enters my baby daydream space.
And I have to interact but it is SO Awkward. With a capital A.

In one glance she can see that I don't need cloth diapers. At least not for my own child. But who would buy cloth diapers for someone else's child? So she feels weird and I am running through the stories in my head. But you see I haven't perfected this situation yet. I tried it out at a different baby store and it almost ended in tears.
I ask about the different diaper brands and she explains that what we need depends on age/size. She looks at me expectantly with eyebrows raised. I say - "um, not newborn. Not big toddler. I don't know - I guess about one year. Yes, one year old. Maybe. Or maybe closer to 20 months. A smallish 20 months?" I think she doesn't believe me so she shows me the adjustable sized diaper system. Good...good. Now the rainy day and cup of coffee I had at church are getting to me and I am shifting around wondering when J is coming back to get me and sort of wondering if I could just buy a diaper for myself?

But the diaper systems are complicated and multi-faceted and she has no other customers. And she is hinting for more information. And she has to show me every single possible diaper option with those raised raised eyebrows. And it is taking FOREVER. And I can feel the stress rising as I try to keep myself from giving out any personal information.

My eyes are shifty. I blurt out that we're adopting. She then asks two things that stump me completely. 1. What's her name?? and 2. When is she coming home with you?

I'm prepared for what country? for what age range? for boy or girl? but not for much more.

Ah, the 24 million dollar questions really. And I loathe saying I don't know.
So I give her a month and a name. WHAT? Did I DO that? What is wrong with me?

To make a long story short I ended up SIGNING US UP for a class on cloth diapering. Oh yes. I did it. November 7th here we come. Looked at every single diaper option without looking at any of the prices. (This one really confused J.) AND managed to LIE about my future child. Now I can never go in that store again without an adorable one year old named ------- within the next 4 months. Oh my goodness. What is wrong with me?

At least when I read my new blog stalkee's post about the double stroller situation I didn't feel quite so ridiculous. But the difference is that she DIDN'T FABRICATE a story about her children!!

Huh. I should feel worse than I do. I should probably stop going into these type of stores and stick with the big impersonal stores. But you see, the problem is that J and I don't have any "stuff." And it took us over an hour to choose the 2 tiny baby toys I took with me to Ethiopia last month. Given that kind of track record we really need to be at least window shopping now, comparing brands, etc so when we finally get baby we'll have more than a $50 onesie and pacifier. (Not that I've even bought these things but these are the two things I actually can identify in the baby stores at this point.)



Where I am vs. where I wish I were

This. Is where I am today. (The view from my home office looking into the backyard.)

How is this possible you ask? It is only October 28th you point out.
Where is fall? Where are the leaves? Where are my mountain hikes? Where is the sunshine Colorado promised us?

Why can't I see the hammock anymore?
Why didn't I watch the weather channel?
Why is our Wednesday night meals group cancelling when we all live within 12 blocks of each other? (Seriously - don't you find that a little strange?)

This is where I wish I were.

Talay is very unhappy with this weather as well. This is Talay today. (Very very sad about the snow. Or maybe just the camera. She has photo phobia.)

She has very little body fat. I have decided to get her a doggie sweater. Something with little snowflakes. Like a ski sweater. I have not told J. He will not like that plan. But she is cold! Look at her!!

Oh, if only my Thai colleagues could see her now. The smug smiles, the clucking tongues. Yes, they would be horrified. They warned me heavily that a Thai dog would die in the American winter. (Never mind the fact that if she had stayed in Thailand she would have starved to death or been eaten alive by mange by now.) A sweater, yes, that is what she needs.

This is where Talay wishes she could be (taken last year on almost this exact date!)

I wish I were in Greece. Jeremy I spent almost two weeks in Greece in May for our 10th wedding anniversary. All I have now is a postcard.

I had an adoption dream last night. I dreamt that the agency called and offered us 3 siblings. They were not little - they were at least pre-teens. I kept thinking "but I asked for under 20 months old didn't I?" It was so confusing! Here come the crazy dreams!!



Baby stuff from Africa

If you have a puzzle full of tiny scratchy wooden pieces I do not recommend removing the outer wrapping. The photo above is a picture of my nemesis. Africa puzzle. I bought it for a few dollars in Nairobi. Today I made a bad choice and unwrapped it. I lost all of north and west Africa.
Dozens of tiny tiny confusingly shaped sharp edged puzzle pieces on my office floor.
Luckily I work from home. Which affords me the time to work on puzzles. Of course it couldn't have been Sub-Saharan Africa right? No, it was the entire portion of the continent that I know nothing about and haven't thought about since I took an African civilizations class in college.
The dogs sniffed the pieces and considered eating them. Most of the pieces had jagged edges (new project for J - sandpapering every back surface of this puzzle - should be super enthused to do that!)
Did I use my trusty wall map to figure out which countries go where? No! I did it all on my own and it only took 10 minutes or so. Should only take baby, oh, let's guess at 6 years and at least 10 choking incidents, to get this puzzled solved. For now it is going away in the closet. Far away.

My optimistic summer has been followed by a pessimistic fall.

I think it's because I left for Africa before the leaves even turned yellow and returned to Colorado in a special edition of Denver skips autumn and embraces winter.

Halloween. Y.u.c.k.
Holiday season begins with pumpkin patches and hay rides and costumes and cheery little voices at your door all night.

In my overly active imagination this year we are a safari themed family.
Baby is a giraffe (a magazine - how dare they send this to childless couples?? - arrived last week with tiny children in tiny animal costumes.) So baby is a giraffe. Jeremy could be either a lion or an elephant - something big and manly. And I will be whatever animal is the happiest. We stroll around the neighborhood showing off. Baby learns to say trick or treat. We gobble her candy after she goes to bed. Ahhhh. Maybe next year?

In REALITY Jeremy has to work - this always happens on Halloween for some reason. So it will be another year of answering the door every 2 seconds. Enduring children who barely dress up shoving bags in my face without saying trick or treat. (Who are these parents???) The dogs will be freaking out as usual and I will be promising little hands that they don't bite (and praying that they never make me regret those words.)

At some point I will be stuffed full of cheery Halloween friendliness and so I will turn out the light and ignore the angry teenagers who start coming out later. I will sit on the couch, watch scary movies that I should never watch alone, wonder where my youth went (ahh, remember the year in high school when I convinced mom and dad to let me go to my first Halloween party with COLLEGE friends?!) and eat the rest of the candy in the bowl. Candy that I bought to suit my taste anyway.

Where is this blog going? Oh, yes I think I called it baby stuff from Africa.

I am finding ways to keep cheerful. Mostly this involves baby name game which I use regularly to torture J, my sister, and random friends who are stupid enough to bring up the topic. Window shopping - which actually looks more like looking in the window for one second and then bounding into the store followed by me asking a million questions to the store people and pretending that I'm actually bringing a little someone home in the next few weeks. (A couple of times this has ended awkwardly as they've asked her name, age, etc. Sometimes I make things up and other times I admit I don't know who she is. Bleck. I prefer making it up during this game.) Finally - grand finale - organizing Africa "stuff" in the office/baby room and choosing prototypes for furniture I want J to build for baby.

Whew. Finding ways to stay cheerful really does take a lot of energy!

First up - the bed that J is making for baby. He doesn't love copying other people's designs but we both loved this daybed and we need the bed and trundle for guests anyway.
(He's building a side rail into the design.)

Second, fabric I bought in Africa for making throw pillow cases for the room. A few of the fabrics are so cute that I'd like to have pajamas or dresses made. I cannot sew though. At all. I will have to find someone willing to do this for me. Preferably for free. Out of pity would be fine.
If you own a sewing machine but do not want to be my new baby seamstress it would be best to pretend you didn't read this.



Victoria Falls

After the safari in Botswana, Kate and I went back across the border to Livingstone and spent a day at Victoria Falls. It was dry season so there wasn't as much water as usual. But it was still spectacular and we got the idea. In wet season you can get soaked from a mile away!

One morning we took a tour to Devil's Pool which is a little pool at the very top of the falls on the Zambian side. First you swim over to this rock island. The current is strong but there is a rope to hold onto. Then you jump from the rock island into Devil's Pool. You can't see it in the photos but there is a rock wall underneath the water forming this little natural pool that prevents you from going over the edge. The water was incredibly warm.

We jumped in! It was a big stretch for me since I'm scared of heights. But it felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We don't have many great photos in the pool because our guide was really excited about being in the pictures. We didn't realize it when we were there - I think adrenaline had taken over. But later looking at the photos Kate and I just died laughing at our new "boyfriend" and his enthusiasm. Sorry for this photo Kate - it is not our best. But it really personifies our crazy friend.

It was a beautiful experience and a really fun 24 hours at one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. After the Devil's Pool we ate eggs benedict and scones with coffee at a little outdoor patio looking over the falls and watched while the sun came out and created rainbows over the water. Breathtaking.



Even I am getting sick of reading myself whine!

I slept on it. And I read your comments and emails.

So many good points made!

So here's what I did. I emailed a full description of T - her size, her looks, the way she interacted - to the WACAP social worker to pass along to the family. And I told her she could share my email if that's what T's mom really wants. But I don't want to initiate contact myself.

That should give them what they need. And takes the responsibility out of my hands. Not that I have any hard feelings at all. But I think that my feelings about being in touch with the family were very selfish feelings of curiosity. A desire for closure that may or may not be totally possible.

I'm actually tired of the drama. I think this adoption feeds something in me that isn't my favorite part of my personality. Drama. Throwing yourself on the bed with a giant flop, eye rolling, deep sighing, whoa is me, drama.

Even I am tired of reading this sob-story of a blog these days. I just got to go on a safari! Note to self - life is not perfect and you can't always have your way. Need to be more thankful in general.

Time to move on and think about little #3. And we are #3 on the list! Seems like a good omen.

Today it is sunny and even though the snow was blowing over the mountains in the distance the air is still and warmer down here in Denver.The leaves are still on the trees. It is my favorite time of year and I've barely noticed since I got home!

So I'm finding new ways of keeping excited. I forced J into the baby names talk last night. (He was a really nice participant for about 10 minutes.) Then we talked about our birthdays which are coming up in November and December. For my birthday I asked for a whole day of looking at decorations, toddler "stuff" and visiting baby stores. ;) He was really ready to agree to anything to make me happy which is one wonderful side effect of the recent drama.

There is going to be no more whining here. I promise.



back on the rollercoaster...

Hey Everyone,

Sometimes the blog feels like a diary and other times it feels like I'm writing letters to friends.
Today I'm writing a letter to everyone who's been reading along, whether I know you or not, to ask for some advice.

I stepped away from the ride for a few days and tried to just get back to work and into the swing of life at home.

Yesterday I was dragged back on.

First, our "Notice of Favorable Determination" arrived from US.CIS. This is the I171H form. Good news! It is the form we were dying to get fingerprinted for before I left to travel. But now I have no idea what to do next. I love AAI but I'm a little confused about the next step in the paperwork. Is it over? Can someone with experience please comment and tell me?

Then, this morning, I got an email from WACAP. Did I mention that I sent the photos of T to our former WACAP contact to pass along to her new family? I did this with equal part hope that it would bring them joy and equal part hope that WACAP would tell me that actually their adoption fell through and T was available again. Just being honest here. You know I always promised I'd be real...

So this morning I got the email. Saying that T's adoptive mom loved the pictures and wants me to email her. WACAP sent me her email address and said it's up to me. I don't know why I didn't see that coming but I really didn't at all. I hoped for a few word thank you and promise they would adore her. NOT a request to email.

J thinks I should say no and then put this behind me and forget it.

I am dying of curiosity. But equally devastated again. What if I think she's great? What if I think she's horrible? Oh yuck. yuck. yuck. More than anything I want to know where T will be in the U.S. when she comes home. But why? Why do I want to know that? I can't see clearly here at all.

What do you ladies (and Jon who I think reads this) think I should do?
Serious advice needed.



A clarification

A couple of new readers have emailed about my last post.

I thought I should clarify for those that didn't read about T this summer.

We found T on a photo waitlist with our original agency, WACAP, not with AAI.

Both agencies care for children at AHOPE.

We are really happy with our experience with AAI so far!



Meeting my "almost daughter" in Addis or The post I didn't want to write but had to get out...

My heart is heavy from the last few days in Addis. I wrote this post while I was still there.

I created this 4-day stop in Addis hoping we might have a referral by now. A little girl I could visit. But it was not meant to be I guess. Sometimes I wonder if it will really happen. No, I am not being melodramatic. There is a large part of me that thinks we missed the boat. It was not ever ever meant to happen. Not because we’ve waited so long, because the adoption process hasn’t been all that long. But I just have this feeling. I can’t explain it. Very glass is half empty today.

Without our referral I really couldn’t just linger around the AAI orphanages. It’s hard not to bond with the kids and get emotionally involved. And I do not need that.

I took just one morning to visit little AHOPE (kids under 8), Layla/Wanna House, and Opportunity House with a friend who lives here. I left some letters from other AAI families. I took a couple of photos for families. My heart was not completely in it.

Our first stop was little AHOPE.

I knew, intellectually, that probably little T was still living there. Courts just reopened after the rainy season and her family wouldn’t have had time to pass court and come and get her yet. But I wasn’t really prepared to see her in person. I was dying of curiosity to see her but so torn about it. I’m still not sure I did the right thing by going there. I pretended I was going to see where our child might come from (she will possibly come through AHOPE) but now looking back I know my real intentions. I wanted to see T. It was a bad bad idea. I really should learn more self-control.

First we visited the morning playroom where a group of about 10 kids were having a snack. They were all sitting around a table with a nanny hand feeding them. It was sweet to see. They behaved really well. Most of the group were boys about 5 years old. A couple were tiny little girls but when I asked how old they were I was told they were also 5. It is shocking what malnutrition can do. They looked 2! They all were happy to smile for my camera but thankfully not a group that needed to hang and cling to every visitor. I was really glad to see that. I hate to encourage that desperate clinging to strangers and begging behavior common in orphanages.

Then we went on a little tour of the sleeping rooms. Big kids were in school so they were all empty.

Then we walked to the baby house, which is in the same compound. It’s yellow and has a family of stick figures painted on the outside.

My heart started racing a little and I swear it was skipping every other beat as we walked through the hall.

We walked into her room and she was standing right at the door. I knew her immediately. I said her name and she looked up and smiled. She was bigger than I imagined. I guess 3 months have gone by since we first saw her referral photos. She smiled up at me and everything, every organ in my body, melted. I just said her name and knelt down to talk to her and look in her eyes and touch her cheek. After a few seconds she put her arms up and we held onto each other. Then she pulled back and gave me a long once over look. And an approving little smile. She talked some baby talk in Amharic. I imagined she was asking who I was. She wanted to tell me things that I’ll never know.

I carried her and we looked around the room together. She pointed out the newest baby to me and patted her on her baby hands. It was like she was explaining that this was a new baby and that was really interesting to her. She talked in baby talk to me and I nodded and laughed. It was anything but tragic. She was perfection. She was happy.

Oh, it was so so hard to put her down. But what could I do? I couldn’t exactly announce to everyone around me “this should have been my daughter. Thanks, I’m taking her now.” I was worried they’d take one look at my growing desperation and usher me straight out of the compound surrounded by security. I had a vision that they’d post a wanted photo warning the guards to not let me in again. I kept the feeling of desperation off of my face and out of my voice.

So I put T down and they said I could take a couple of photos of her alone for her new family. Since her referral photos were so serious I worked to get a big smiley photo. Not hard to do! She is such a happy funny little one. She played peekaboo with a paper. Then we said Chao (goodbye in Amharic) and she said “shao shao” quietly over and over as we left. She waved. I was impressed. She seemed to be the most brilliant 20 month old I’ve ever met.

I got outside and turned back to look at the hallway to her room and suddenly she was there. She had come out to the hall and was watching me leave. It was the moment I seriously considered grabbing her and running. She was standing in the hall and I was at the bottom of the steps out the door. We just looked at each other and then her nanny called her back. So hard. Have I said how hard this was? It ripped something vital out of my heart. My eyes were so dry it felt like it was worse than crying.

A few minutes later as we were leaving the compound T came out toddling after her nanny to another building. She just kept watching me. As she was about to round the corner she threw up her hands and started blowing kisses. She isn’t a performer. She didn’t run to us. She was securely following in the footsteps of the nanny. But she knew how to blow kisses. I wonder if she just learned that. She put her little hands up to her lips until she almost stumbled in to the wall and then she turned the corner and was gone. It all happened so fast. The whole visit was no more than 20 minutes.

All I have are 4 photos. Nothing more.

So I don’t get it AT ALL. I don’t understand why this has happened. What on earth am I supposed to have learned from this? Why on our first adoption, our first child, I have to fall in love with one and have her snatched from me I will never understand. Then why do I have to come here and SEE her and fall in love with her again? After I really thought I was over it and doing fine. Ready for our "real" referral now with AAI. If there is a lesson in this I will never get it.

I’m really angry about this. We CHOSE her. And we knew we would love her. And for being 3 weeks shy of completed paperwork she was taken and given to another family. And here we are in EXACTLY the position I thought would happen and told the agency would happen. Our dossier is in Ethiopia. We have approval to adopt. The paperwork is done and we are ready. And I am here – the other family is not. And if she were mine I would just stay. And she would know me and see me every day until she passes court. Better for her. Absolutely. Even if WACAP hadn't allowed me to visit her every day I would be in her city. I would be nearby if she needed me. We would take custody the second she passed court and live with her here until she had her visa to travel. We would do anything. We are so flexible. This other family had better be the most perfect and wonderful and deserving family who will be better for her than us (very hard to imagine.) They had better BOTH travel here to get her. They better think she is the most brilliant thing they’ve ever seen.

I believe in God you know. But I don’t think he purposely causes pain and suffering to exact His plan in the world. So I don’t know where this all fits in. I don’t know the why and I don’t know that there is a why of it all. I heard a great quote from a friend here yesterday. She said that adoption should be working to find families for children and not children for families. I think the same is true of God. He wants families for children and is maybe not so worried about us in all of this. Trying to believe He knows what is best for T. I wish I could know why it wasn’t us. It would be nice to know. I am adding it to the list of questions for the afterlife.

So now I have been thinking about her every minute of the last 24 hours. And some minutes seem very melodramatic, like right now. Tears, anger, searching her pictures for some clues to all of this. I talked to J this morning and told him everything. I think he is upset too. I’m glad he isn’t here. It would have been really hard for him to have met her in person. We decided I should leave Addis and not bother our agency about a referral or extend my stay. I need time to go home and grieve a little.

Her face was the face I want to look at every day forever. She has these big heart shaped lips that don’t stay closed over her baby teeth. She has Bambi sized eyes that get really wide when you talk to her. They are wide apart and have curled up lashes. Her curls are the softest things I’ve ever felt. She’s sturdy and much heavier than I imagined. At least 25-30 pounds. Her little lispy voice is gorgeous and surprising. She’s still a baby but just barely. She was wearing dirty clothes and the braids in her hair had just about come out completely-lost in a cloud of curls. But I could feel them through her hair. I have no idea if she is beautiful. I have no objectivity. I thought I was going to be her mother. She is the most beautiful child on earth to me.

I am coming home. I thought when I arrived that I would extend for a week here. The AAI Ethiopia director told me when I visited Layla House that 2 people ahead of us on the referral list received referrals last week. So we are possibly #2 on the list. Not quite sure. (Edited - we are #3 now.) But she can’t predict when more referrals will be given. But I can’t stay. I don’t want to stay. I feel heavy and tired and emotionally unprepared for a different child.

I am very worried now about accepting a referral. I am worried I won’t see the right face looking back at me. Has anyone else ever had this happen? If you have, could you please let me know how you dealt with it?

I heard this quote last week.
“Life is lived forward but understood backward.” Soren Kirkagaard
I think the first part is true. Jury is still out on the second part.



Photos from Botswana Safari

Home has never felt so good. I got in last night after 25 hours from Addis - Frankfurt - Denver. Thought a lot about bringing baby home on that route in economy class. Ugh. Can't fathom how hard that will be right now.

I have some long posts prepared about the trip. Particularly my time in Addis. But I feel like first I want to celebrate the safari and Victoria Falls. It was such a fun 3 days, overshadowed really by all of the work and emotional stuff later. These photos deserve a post of their own. And Victoria Falls will also get a post of her own.

So. Botswana. If you fly from Nairobi in Kenya to Lusaka in Zambia you can catch a tiny plane on Proflights Zambia to Livingstone which is located very close to the Botswana border. We had a van take us over the border to Botswana (about an hour drive and 5 minute ferry ride) and were met in an open air safari jeep. We stayed at Chobe Marina Lodge which was very nice and it included as many safaris as we wanted to go on into Chobe National Park.

Kate and I took an early morning safari both mornings we were there as well as a late afternoon sunset boat safari. It was awe inspiring. I love animals. I loved seeing them in their natural habitat. We saw every animal you can imagine: elephants, giraffe, warthogs, impala, kudu, crocs, cape buffalo, hippos, vultures, baboons, guinea fowl, tons of gorgeous birds, a leopard, a lion (from to far away to photograph well), and probably more I
can't think of now.
Sunrise over Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Impala butt.

See the birds enjoying the ride?

Elephants swimming. They swim in a formation where they hold the tail in front of them and keep the baby protected inside a circle of mothers. They are fast swimmers!

Jogging along the island to their swimming crossing over the river.

My favorite photo. LOOK at baby hippo carrying his stick in his mouth!

It's hard to see but there is a crocodile laying next to the ellie's back left leg and a hippo swimming towards him in front. A perfect scene. I couldn't get enough.

There were moments when it seemed like the safari operators must have thought of The Lion King and then just planted animals along the way. Timon and Pumba were warthogs right?

Baboons are sort of the pests of Africa but this baby was so sweet looking.

Cape Buffalo. Apparently more dangerous than elephants, rhinos or even lions. We got close. There were a lot of them. They looked very very lazy. But I guess they are deceptive.



Heaven is a place on earth

Excuse me while I take a small break from the reality.

I’m in Botswana. And it is Beautiful. But not all that easy to get to.

On Thursday morning I left my Nairobi hotel for the airport at 6am.
Then the flight was delayed.
A LOT of us sat in a very small crowded hot and smelly Ken.ya Air.ways waiting room. I slept sitting up. We became extremely docile. When we were docile enough that brain matter was turning to mush and oozing out our ears they allowed us onto the plane.

I slept sitting up.

Arrived in Zambia. My colleague had her card eaten by an ATM machine. We spent about an hour trying to resolve the situation. It is so typical for me in the course of travel to have ATM and credit card problems that it barely even phased me. But she was upset so I felt really bad. Miraculously they sent a technician who opened the ATM and got it out. If you know Africa you know this is a true miracle to have happen in just one hour.

Got on another flight – it was too small to even have a bathroom. There were 3 passengers including us.

I slept sitting up.

Arrived in Livingstone. Drove over the border. I slept sitting up. Then ferried across the Zambezi, or Chobe, not sure which river it was but it was where you can see Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia all at the same time. The ride took 3 minutes so I managed not to fall asleep.

Safari jeep to our lodge. I did not sleep sitting up. Safari jeeps are super fun!

It is a really good thing that I can sleep anywhere because as you can see from this post I basically slept across Sub-Saharan Africa yesterday.

My colleague and I are staying at the Chobe Marina Lodge on the banks of the Chobe River which is just outside of Chobe National Park. This morning we got up at 5am (but I went to bed early so you won’t have to read more about my sleeping today!) and took a safari drive into the park. It was AMAZING. Have I mentioned that Botswana is Beautiful?

Shapes emerged out of the gray dawn and became Kudu with their enormous horns and white stripes, little marmots ran across our path, Cape Buffalo with white birds on their backs chewed leaves and considered running us down.

And then we arrived at the elephants. I was in heaven. The only event comparable in my life so far was the day I spent at Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

I just couldn’t stop smiling. And taking pictures. And smiling!

The elephant herd was so majestic and calm. There were babies under the shadow of their moms. They looked like the queens of Chobe.

Most of the safari was along a ridge overlooking the river which merged onto a green and lush delta of land. Even though it’s dry season it is very green in the park along the river. Away from the river the trees are brown and bare so its easy to watch the animals. Perfect time of year.

We saw 2 giraffe – one of them got a little nervous and we watched her lope off into the bush.

We saw more species of bird than I knew existed! I think there are 400 different species in the park.

Many many photos to come when I have a second to upload.

And then the big finale – a LEOPARD. The leopard is one of the big five which were the “most dangerous” African animals as identified by early explorers: Cape buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard and lion. Of course they forgot the hippo which are extremely dangerous.

The leopard was hard to photograph. The spots are great camoflauge.

The best moment of the day was when we took a break and got out of the car near the river. We heard grunting below us and looked down to find a mommy and baby hippo splashing in the water (baby was carrying a stick in her mouth), a giant elephant on the shore, and a huge Nile crocodile all just hanging out together. It was hard to leave. I could have watched this little group all day.

Tonight we went on an evening cruise and watched several elephant herds swimming back to shore from an island in the river. We also saw a LOT of hippo and crocodiles as well as buffalo and birds. I’m really hoping to see zebra and a lion tomorrow on our next morning safari.

I hope my words and photos do it justice. I have been to several parts of Africa but never on safari. Even though this is just a short hop into the world of safaris and animals it really gave me a different perspective on Africa. I am so inspired by the beauty of the land and everything unique it has to offer. It is a very startling contrast to the big cities here and their slums. I wonder how many Africans get to see the natural beauty of their continent. Must have been just an awesome (and dangerous) land for the indigenous tribes living here. I’m not sure who lives here in Botswana now. I have to admit to being here completely ignorant of the culture, language or even currency. Tomorrow we head back to Livingstone to visit Victoria Falls.

No word on baby. But I’ve been doing a lot of shopping for her!


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.