When we were preparing to go on our first Viking cruise, to Russia, I joined a Viking discussion group on Facebook and found Suellyn, who was also going on the same cruise. We didn't actually "bond" with her on the trip--she was part of the popular crowd, the one with the big table, always laughing, always together. But we did interact with her occasionally and since she and I and Char are all on Facebook, we have continued to interact now and then, sharing our experiences on other Viking cruises.
She's not with Viking this year. She is taking my dream trip, a safari to Africa and Char and I are following her adventures through the reports that she posts each day on Facebook. While I am eating these reports up, I am also realizing, sadly, that what Peggy told me when she came back from her trip to Africa a few years back was true--she didn't think my back would be able to deal with the rigors of the drives out to see the wildlife.
Then the game drive. A worse road than yesterday, the worst yet. EVERYTHING is covered with dust, including me (I showered a little bit ago), my backpack, my nose and ears. It is everywhere! ...
...Let me tell you folks, this trip is rugged. Half the time I thought my teeth were coming out, and the rest of the time every bone in my body was being jostled. Unfortunately, I had the same driver as yesterday, Frank,and I think he learned to drive in Indianapolis!
But she is getting beautiful photos from the balcony of her hotel room.
(Imagine seeing something like that while standing in your shower washing your hair!) As I read Suellyn's reports, and the similar reports of others, I realize that the time for me to be able to actually enjoy my dream trip has passed. Now what I really want to do is sit on the balcony of Suellyn's hotel and watch the wild life come to me.
Over the past year, reading reports of the adventures of our friends Rick and Judith, who, it seems, have traveled everywhere, and reading books at Logos like "A Year in Province" and similar first person accounts of far away places and exciting adventures that both intrigue and exhaust me just thinking about it, I realize that my taste for adventure has diminished over the years. I look at them, or at pictures of Walt's mother atop Machu Picchu and realize I couldn't make it to the bottom much less the top, even if I wanted to.
Today I picked up a book at Logos called "Wild Writing Women Stories of World Travel." In the book I read about the road to Mandalay, a bus accident in Laos, rafting in Switzerland, haunted places in Scotland, adventures in India, etc. and though I love the writing, in my heart of hearts, I no longer see myself doing these fun things. I've become an old poop.
I remember when our friend David went to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. He said it was a magical experience, one I desperately wanted too, until I realized it involved hiking long distances to the mountains and then hiking long distances up the mountain and hoping to find a group. Much as I would have loved that experience (if I could take the escalator up to the gorilla habitat), I enjoyed more watching the YouTube video of a band of gorillas who had a bonding experience with a man staying at a Rwanda hotel. (Do watch that video if you haven't seen it before...it's amazing)
I have enjoyed our last three cruises because there was so much "sitting on the boat" time, watching thevarious countries go by, and I know that the Ukraine trip will be fun -- I am especially looking forward to seeing the Cossack Horsemanship Show (since I missed the horse show in Budapest last time). But I hunger for fewer and fewer trips to strange venues.
I am always tempted when Compassion is hosting a trip to see our sponsored children, but having followed several of these trips, I don't think I have the stamina for it and, remembering my experience in China, so eager to see the school children and finding them so afraid of big fat me, that I don't even let myself dream about traveling to Kenya or Uganda or the Philippines or any of the other countries where I have children for fear it will ruin the fragile friendships we have developed.
I will probably never see Venice, or the inland passage to Alaska, or take the train across the Canadian rockies, which I told Walt I wanted to do sometime when we were there on our honeymoon, or stay on our own in Florience to see what I missed when I was there the last time. But somehow that's OK now.
I'm sure I have missed out on a lot in my time by being out of shape and reluctant to take risks (zip lining? No thank you!), but I do enjoy these adventures vicariously, when someone else takes them.