Friday, May 16, 2014

Traveling to Botswana With a Two Month Old

This past February, we ended our lovely time at home for maternity leave and departed Florida for the long trip back to Botswana. The route – Orlando to Atlanta to Johannesburg to Gaborone – includes the second- longest single leg direct flight in the world. It takes almost 17 hours to fly from Johannesburg to Gaborone. 

Asleep, post-bouncing.
Although this was not our first time on this flight, it was certainly our first time on the flight with a baby!  Throwing a two month old into the mix made flying a whole new experience. Our typical pre-baby routine on other long flights we’ve taken between, for example, Atlanta and Johannesburg; Shanghai and Chicago; Hong Kong and Newark; Shanghai and Sydney; or Sydney and San Francisco has been:

Arrive at airport two hours early
Check in
Saunter around airport and buy magazines and candy for the flight
Board plane
Excited to finally be aboard the plane.
Watch a movie
Eat dinner
Watch another movie
Take Ambien
Sleep for 8 hours
Watch movie #3
Eat breakfast
Watch movie #4

– And voila! There we are in a new destination.

Enter baby and change the travel routine to:

The little traveler.
Arrive at airport four hours early “just in case”
Parent #1 struggles through the airport with five suitcases (two for each parent and one for the baby)
Parent #2 juggles screaming baby, diaper bag, and stroller
Parent #2 hands off baby to Parent #1
Parent #1 bounces baby (who is still screaming) to sleep
Parent #2 quickly grabs some sandwiches for the flight
Two parents lug baby and stroller and car seat and diaper bag and carry-ons and finally board the plane
Two parents spend 17 hours taking turns stroking baby’s cheek, holding baby’s pacifier in his mouth, changing baby’s diaper, intently watching baby in his car seat to make sure he really is sleeping, walking baby up and down the aisle when he gets bored. Parent #2 feeds baby every three hours (she is the female parent).
Parent #2 manages to watch half a movie during the 17 hour flight.
When the plane lands, two parents wait until everyone else disembarks, and then they lug baby and stroller and car seat and diaper bag and stroller off the plane.

Two parents collapse in exhaustion…

– And voila! There we are back in Gaborone. Easy, right?! :D

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Baby on Safari

I know, I know… I’ve sorely neglected this blog! Time has flown by and life has changed so much since my last posting at the end of September. 

Baby on Safari
Big Change Number One: We are now proud parents to the most adorable little baby boy who ever lived! Baby is five months old now and changing every day. He’s “talking” (baby talk), almost sitting up, and enjoying new flavors like banana and avocado in addition to his regular bottles. Since this is a blog about our life in Africa and African travel experiences, I should also mention that Baby has already been on his first safari! We took him on a game drive for his three-month birthday and he loved every minute of it. Zebras were his favorite, as they have black and white stripes, a pattern which is apparently very popular with young babies.   

Africa Baby
 Next weekend, we’re taking him a road trip to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, the Johannesburg Lion Park, and Pilanesburg National Park as our last hurrah in southern Africa before we depart to our next post. 

Which leads me to Big Change Number Two: We are leaving Botswana in early August! We have enjoyed many aspects of our time here but two years has been more than enough to experience power outages, water shortages, infrastructure challenges, poor customer service, and a stressful work environment. 

We are very much looking forward to our next adventure – a posting in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from July 2015-2017! Before arriving in Sarajevo, we will be back in Washington, D.C. for 10 months of Serbo-Croatian training. Our family is excited to spend some time closer to home for a little while, and then to explore Bosnia and surrounding countries from Sarajevo for two years. I have heard nothing but good things about Sarajevo – countless travel opportunities within driving distance; interesting and vibrant city; friendly people; and good food. Baby will certainly be a well-traveled little boy!

More to come later on our trip next weekend, as well as a post on Tips for Traveling to Botswana with a Two Month Old Baby. Yes, I'll be speaking from experience.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!