Cindi on Umlani Safari, Kruger, So.Africa Jill in Kampomo Village, Malawi
In the fall of 2008, my dear friend Cindi and I were planning a trip to Europe together. I had not been there since my childhood when I had lived in France, and both of us wanted to travel in Italy, too.
But the trip was not to be. Cindi received life-threatening news. I remember the debilitating fear upon learning the news that she had breast cancer. I pledged to help and be with her any way I could through her surgery and its aftermath, not knowing then that the ordeal would include three surgeries, radiation, anti-cancer drugs, warring doctors, varying opinions, and finally a clean bill of health and remission.
Her relief was complete and for the first time in months she began to look to a future she had given up on. “Remember that trip we were planning?”
“Yup, seems like eons ago,” I wondered what she was getting at.
“Well, are you still interested?”
“Of course! You know my Sagittarian travel impulses. Do you think you’re up to it?”
“I’m not only up to it, I’d like to make a few changes.”
“Like what?” I raised my eyebrows.
“How about Africa instead?”
“Africa?!” I was stunned.
“This whole cancer ordeal has changed my life. I realize how short it is. I need an adventure to blast the past right out of me.”
“Wow! I’m in.”
Cindi plans the whole thing while I’m in Costa Rica. Through her connection with a non-profit group called Water for People, http://www.waterforpeople.org she finds a week country tour of Malawi, a landlocked impoverished place in southeast Africa, that will monitor and report on progress of installing bore holes (wells) and eco-sanitation (latrines) in out-lying villages and urban areas. Although this should be experience enough, it will probably be sad and emotionally draining. She sends me an email, “How about a safari first? Let’s start with some excitement.”
“All right! Never thought I’d do such a thing, but why not.” And thus our African adventure begins.