Ms. Daisy’s missives continued:
You must not be anxious for me. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. When I arrived here in Capetown today I decided to take a walk around The Spier’s Estate where we are staying. Well, when I did not show for this meeting (a travel enticement thing) I do believe an alarm occurred because Mary Anne declared that it was not like me to miss anything. Well, I thought, only when it suits my primary interest, which was to enjoy my surroundings before Brian has us running nonstop as he will likely do tomorrow. Our director is a jewel, but he intends for us to see everything.
We spent the last three nights in Kruger National Park where we went on game drives daily. In fact we left one day at 7:30 and did not return until evening. A few dropped out halfway through the day but the rest of us soldiered on. The next day we had a morning drive. Actually, I enjoyed the safaris.
I love the countries I have visited. The people are very friendly and the women have such beautiful smooth skin. There is spectacular beauty despite the evidence of poverty everywhere. I do not think these people allow their condition to define them.
Tomorrow is wine tasting at another venue. Although I had a little red wine tonight, I shall not do the justice that you other Hazels might.
Enough, I am tired but happy.
I was thrilled to receive one last email from Mama three nights before she left South Africa.
I am in Cape Town now. Today I ascended Table Mountain to a spectacular view of the area. Although heights make me nervous I did not wimp out. Already I was regretting that I did not ride the elephant when I had a chance.
Tonight I bought a book from a man who was both his [Nelson Mandela’s] guard and friend during his stay at Robben Island. Tomorrow we will go to See the prison. As I understand it, we ferry over. Speaking of conveyances, I have been on planes here on at least two occasions since I came to Africa. We were two and a half hours from Kruger to Cape Town. Oh yes, in Stellenbosch, a university town, we went wine tasting. Of course my participation was minimal but not absent. After spending only one night at Spied Hotel, we transferred to Cullinan Hotel, where we shall be for the rest of our stay in Africa.
You have heard little about food issues because I have had so few. In fact it might turn out that I have gained weight what with eating at seven and eight at night. The buffets are unbelievable. What can I say?
When Ms. Daisy returned, I asked her about all those bags of nuts and raisins she had squirreled away in her suitcase. I asked her if she still had that special toothbrush; the little folding stool to make her legs comfortable during flights; a time zone alarm clock she hadn’t figured out how to operate before she left; the dial-your-vision reading glasses; three types of bug spray and sunscreens; special earplugs; huge sunhat with built-in sunscreen; and a personal clean air supply gadget worn around the neck— among others. Oh yeah, I can’t forget the mosquito netting canopy she planned to put over her bed at night. Ms. Daisy packed for survival!
Where are all the gadgets now? Ms. Daisy confessed that most of them are still in South Africa: lost, given away, or bartered for crafts at the market.
When Ms. Daisy / Mama — the technophobe — left for Africa, she said she wouldn’t bother with her camera. She ended up taking almost 700 photos. Mama more than survived the trip with Vantage, she loved it and said it was a trip of a lifetime. She even took a helicopter ride. Now, she’s thinking about the next travel extravaganza for her 90th birthday!
This post is about a woman close to my heart, who wants everyone to know you don’t have to be defined by your age. She recently toured four countries in southern Africa for her 88th birthday. That’s my mama —still doing exactly what she wants to do. So, why do I call her “Ms. Daisy”? Well, because:
- The daisy is her favorite flower;
- She is an old-school feminist; and
- The “Driving Ms. Daisy Errand.” (The errand: I flew 900 miles roundtrip from the East Coast to the Midwest, and drove 400 miles roundtrip in a borrowed car from one Midwest state to another, for the specific purpose of getting Ms. Daisy to the airport for her Africa extravaganza. I’ll leave it at that.)
Before Ms. Daisy left, I set up her gmail account and showed her how to easily access it on her tablet. She seldom uses the internet, except to order books. I told her she needed to tell us something when she arrived in Johannesburg, even if only a two-word response. I was hoping for “I’m fine,” at the very least. For practice on her tablet before the trip, I emailed Ms. Daisy photos of her granddaughter, Emily, with Cheryl and me. I expected an immediate reply, but in her own time came this:
Hi Kim Remember me? I am the computer illiterate. Anyway I enjoyed seeing my girls together. Speaking of girls…last night Julia called. While she knew that you and Cheryl were with Emily, she was surprised to hear that I was going to South Africa.
This thing exhausts me!!
I was a little nervous when she left for South Africa because it had been some years since she had traveled overseas by herself. I sent her a few emails, but didn’t get a response until this email five days into her trip:
Dear Kim, I AM HERE. No one met me at the gate. After some anxiety I proceeded to baggage and customs — not easy at all. Anyway I am here. Vantage gathered its crew for the trip to our hotel. Incidentally there are only 17 of us. I am the odd man out. Oh well! This hotel is great AND I brushed my teeth tonight. I love you all but I am exhausted from the planned experience.
I was relieved she was fine. She had so much stuff! I thought she’d lose the most important things like passport, tickets, etc. Her reference to being able to brush her teeth had to do with her fear that the water would make her sick. We heard her concerns so often that Cheryl found a special toothbrush that would get the job done without using water. OMG – her survival gadgets! She couldn’t buy enough of them. I am sure the travel catalog companies were loving her for the five months preceding her departure.
Another five days later, this email:
Dear Kim The weather has been great. The people have been great and having a wonderful experience. The animals and I are on first name basis. I am managing my food needs adequately. Don’t expect to hear from me often as places I am going to don’t all have internet facilities but all is well. Give your siblings regards from me. Lots of love mama.
Later, that same day, I received another email from Ms. Daisy:
Dear Ones, THIS is a great experience! I like the country, the people with whom I am traveling and the guide who guides us and drives us from morning to night. He seems determined to give us a wide variety of experiences. Here I sit at this ungodly hour trying to write you guys. However I am happily situated in a hotel which hosted the Queen of England when she was a girl. I must say I have been exposed to the most elegant and the most elegantly primitive: The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe [and Chobe National Park huts].Today we walked a couple of miles along the falls. Yes I have been taking some pictures. We just arrived Botswana where we had been on two or three safaris — seriously wild and deep in the Bush. Oh yes, on my actual birthday I was tracking beasts in the wild. That night the group sang happy birthday and Brian gave me a book featuring the elephants. The next night as we ate out on the verandah, I was serenaded by the staff of young Africans and presented a cake shared by all. While it was late and I am not much inclined to eat cake, only a few people noticed. Thanks everyone for your messages which I read when I came to my room that night. A special thanks to Emily whose tribute I shared with a few of my new friends.
Love to you from tired but happy me. Mama
MyLetter has mostly disappeared. Oh well!
Next: Ms. Daisy Goes on Safari – Part 2