Africa! You’re worth the effort.

One of the biggest surprises of our extended travels is how hard it is to find decent Internet. Travel is supposed to be one of the best perks to both working online and being self-employed, but it’s not much good if you’re unable to connect to begin with.

To top it all off, it’s been incredibly surprising that Europe is proving one of the most challenging locations in this department. I suppose it’s because we expect it to run like clockwork—after all, they’ve managed some pretty epic artistic and political movements throughout history, not to mention scarily accurate train schedules. Surely they can manage a few wireless connections?

Apparently not.

Alas, this is my long-winded way of saying that when you finally get a spot of Internet from Europe, your income-earning projects have to take priority. After that, you use your online access for the kids’ schooling needs. And since neither of these things are ever fully completed, you squeeze out the last few drops by fading to sleep watching a few episodes of Gilmore Girls or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before waking up to explore more of Europe by day.

Which means, simply put, that this blog isn’t updated as frequently as I like.

But because I’m determined to include all the highlights of our trip, I thought I’d finally summarize our time in Africa—a whirlwind, surprisingly fun few weeks on this massive continent. (The kids’ perspective to come soon!)

Uganda

We started our time in Africa visiting our friends the Forneys, and we had a fabulous time with them. Our kids still talk about theirs as a highlight of our entire journey so far, which should tell you something about their clan.

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Having come from Sri Lanka just before, a good chunk of our time with them was simply relaxing on their porch, sipping wine, watching the kids play, and catching up. Worth the visit and then some.

We then drove over to Jinja (thanks to the Forneys’ generosity with their safari van!) and spent time with Asher and Drü Collie and the Sole Hope team. It was a serious joy to better understand how their organization works, to visit some of the kids they’re serving, to see the shoe-making in action, and to hang out as families.

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And since we were there, we checked out the source of the Nile. Check!

Ethiopia

After Uganda, we popped over to Ethiopia for a short but very intense weekend to meet our Compassion child, Abubeker. I had met our other child in the Philippines back in 2011, and knew it’d be a formative experience for the kids. It was so worth the effort.

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The Compassion team on the ground in Ethiopia was fantastic from start to finish, from the organization to their translation to their thorough patience in answering all our questions. With our guide, we traveled almost ten hours from Addis Ababa up to the Highlands, where our child lives in a small village that’s barely a speck on the map.

There, we spent the first half of the day visiting the local center, meeting all the kids sponsored by Compassion, playing games with them, and watching our kids interact with them (a highlight!).

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The second half of the day we went to Abubeker’s home, where we met his mother and his four older brothers and sisters who love him something fierce. We broke bread together, gave him a few small toys (the look of excitement over a few cans of Play-doh!), and watched how his mother cares tirelessly for her clan.

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Abubeker may come from a poor family, but he is so very loved. They blessed us tenfold by letting us into their home.

Zimbabwe (with a splash of South Africa)

It may seem random, but it’s just how our flights worked out—we then traveled down to South Africa for a day before flying back up to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We hemmed and hawed about making this side jaunt over to the Falls, simply because it seemed so out of the way. Well, we were terribly glad we did.

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Mostly, we needed a chance to catch our breath, and our guesthouse provided just that—a relaxing, quiet place in a tranquil setting. I was a bit under the weather, so Kyle and the kids did a bit of ziplining while I slept and worked.

But we all visited Victoria Falls together, and it’s truly something else. Apparently we were there at the tail end of the low season, which was hard to believe what with how utterly soaked we got—it literally felt like it was raining up. We left drenched from head to toe, full of laughs.

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Another short but sweet trip, and completely worth the effort.

Kenya

Next up was back to where we nearly were originally, this time to Kenya. A friend of ours works for Socially Responsible Safaris, and they took us on one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. I had always wanted to go on a safari, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.

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If you go to the Masaai Mara in Kenya, you can expect to be blown away. The drive there is dusty, bumpy, and exhausting, but after a solid shower, a decent meal, and a warm bed for the night, the next morning you’re treated to some of the most majestic animals God ever thought up.

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Our safari camp was much more on the glamping than the camping side of things, and while that was a bit unexpected for my frugal self, I ultimately shrugged my shoulders and just went with it. Supremely grateful for Socially Responsible Safaris and their generosity.

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Morocco

Finally, we jetted way up to Morocco for a few days with some dear friends we’ve known for ages. They showed us around the old city of Fes, and we had a small taste of fascinating Moroccan culture. Our kids played, we vegged and caught up on the years, and generally had a relaxing recovery period with friends we’ve known since high school. A perfect way to end our time in Africa.

Sadly, we’re missing some of our Morocco photos. Instead of delaying this post with our as-of-now futile search, I’m going to share the one photo I can find. I’ll add more when they’re discovered:

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…Yep, we did all this in less than a month’s time. And we arrived in France exhausted. Tired, but exhilarated from a fantastic time connecting with old friends and making new ones. Completely worth it.

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11 Comments

  1. Misty Newsome

    Loved this recap. We spent 3 months in Uganda from September – early December adopting our son. It was an amazing experience and now we’d love to move there!

  2. Bri McKoy

    Tsh! I have loved following your journey. This post was made me and my husband want to leave RIGHT NOW and go to Africa. Grateful for you. Praying for you and your family. Big love.

  3. Desiree Fawn

    I so love following your journey!! 🙂

  4. Veggie Mama

    Well come! oh my heart 🙂

  5. mandy falgout

    amazing update. thanks! makes me miss travel so much. adding places to our list.

  6. Kristine dB

    Love reading your blog posts. And those pictures – all are amazing, but that last one? Oh my – absolutely breathtaking!!

  7. Breanne

    Well, Africa just made it onto my definitely want to go there list. The pictures are so fantastic, thanks for putting this together.

  8. se7en

    Oh Africa, my heart… so glad you got to explore so far and wide and you met your Compassion child – so very special… The irony that we live hear and yet you have been able to see so much and go on Safari… my kids are looking at each photograph absorbing all of it!!! I won (how bizarre is that) a trip to Zambia later this year and I will get to see those Falls… so excited I could about die.

  9. Devi

    European internet – HA. Yes I have found it disappointing almost everywhere I go. Europeans are great with the old stuff (and I guess train schedules, but really that’s just Switzerland), but lousy with current technology.. even our own internet at home in Sweden isn’t fantastic.

    Your month in Africa looked absolutely stunning. Ethiopia is one of my favourite places in the world, and I loved the two weeks I spent there. Love Ethiopian hospitality, whether in a village or in the city.. and of course the a m a z i n g Ethiopian macchiatos..

  10. Jacqueline

    Hi there,

    I loved the article! I’m looking to travel to Africa it has been calling my heart. I’m from Canada and friends and family keep attempting to discourage me as I am wanting to go as a solo traveller and they all see Africa as dangerous. I am open to volunteering with people or on farms or anything I just want to be in Africa. 🙂 Any recommendations? Thank you and hope to hear back!
    Jacq

  11. Ali VanLeeuwen

    Hi Tsh!

    I subscribe to your newsletter and have listened to every podcast and I have a question for you. You mentioned basing yourselves in bavaria/Germany at some point and doing day trips to other countries from there. Can you refer me to a post with more details or help me figure out your itinerary? I have a family of 4 that is looking to do that part of the world in a short period of time during our Europe adventure. Thank you!!

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