I'm simultaneously preparing for an end and a beginning. That's usually the way it is when you leave a job, which I've done many times, but this is the first time that I'm not preparing for a new job or even for the immediate foray into an intense job search. This time I'm preparing for a journey of epic proportions to the other side of the world. I believe humanity migrated out of Africa to populate the rest of the globe, which makes it the very cradle of civilization, the literal mother land. As the date looms closer, less than a month away, I'm feeling serene and completely sure of this decision.
Let me get one thing straight: I'm not brave. Or spontaneous, or rich. What I am is determined, willing, and hopeful. I'm very aware that opportunities like this where one has both the time and the money to take a month off are few and far between. The fact that this is a conservation project makes it affordable and meaningful. A lot of planning and thought went into choosing the place and the activity, but the timing was arbitrary, which presented a bit of a challenge but ultimately narrowed the possibilities and made the decision-making process easier.
I think I'm pretty much ready.
I bought this carry-on bag specifically designed for camera equipment and a laptop but which looks like a regular carry-on. It's solidly built and very light, and the base comes off.
I also got this backpack for carrying my camera gear on daily excursions. It's also very light and comfortable, and holds an amazing amount of stuff for how small it is, including a new telephoto lens.
I've been breaking in these Ariat hiking boots, which of course are amazingly comfortable and light -- can't beat Ariat boots! Especially with Thorlo padded socks. A few pairs of walking shorts, a great mesh hat and some eco-friendly tshirts and I'm half-way packed already.
I'm flying direct from San Francisco to Dubai on Emirates Airlines, a 15-hour flight but at least the plane is huge, new and has a lounge. I have a long layover in Dubai and plan to visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, which just happens to be right next to an enormous mall that contains not only a ridiculous selection of stores but also an aquarium. Then a 8-hour flight to Durban, where I spend a night at a charming B&B recommended by the project before being picked up the following morning for the 4-hour drive to the private game reserve.
I fully intend to spend one of my four free weekends riding, preferably on the beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. I was thinking at my lesson last night that I need to spend more time in the saddle just riding. I love my lessons and my riding group but I'm back at a point now where I want some freedom, to be riding for the pure joy of it without thinking every second about the last set of instructions. I've come to a place where its not only not selfish to think of myself first, it is essential.