Summer Days: Packing for Africa


Abigail often lounged in the hammock set up by another traveler. Our shipmates were the kind of travelers who knew to bring their own hammocks on such a voyage.

It feels like another lifetime–that voyage from Panama to Cartagena, weaving through the San Blas Islands aboard the M.S. Independence.

As we countdown to Madagascar, South Africa and Lesotho, Facebook thoughtfully chose this week to remind me of that interminable cruise on the Caribbean in 2014.

I stare at our bed strewn with clothing, and my own foolishness seems to stare back at me. I realize the futility in thinking I can prepare for every scenario on the road. On that summer back in 2014 when we survived the M.S. Independence, we barely even opened our packs.

Somehow, I still cling to the belief that packing the right combination items in perfect backpack will envelope me from the uncertainty and challenge of the journey. Replace the unsettling loss of control. Relieve the anxiety. The fervor and angst ramps up as our departure date nears.

Though we only have seven days left to pack, a year wouldn’t be enough time to pack everything we’ll need into a backpack for a 68-day adventure. Preparation requires packing for more than the varied terrain and weather–from the bitter winds of mountain nights to the unrelenting midday sun of the savannah. The real worries arise from unreliable transportation, late night arrivals in dark towns or unexplained bites which swell and fester on the kids. Though headlamps, permethrin dipped mosquito nets and DEET weigh down our packs much more than our clothing, these items feel non-negotiable.

Here’s to another summer of adventures Jorge, Dylan & Abigail. Love you guys.