"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The 2021 Africa Journals, Chapter One: In which Murphy Rides Shotgun



Chapter One:

In Which Murphy Rides Shotgun


            "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.”--Robert Burns


    All things considered, from inception to completion and everything in between, I should sub-title this work “The Murphy’s Law Journals.”

     Nothing was easy; everything went wrong.  Murphy’s Law is an adage that posits, or perhaps warns, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”   It proved itself time and again.

     First of all, who in their right mind decides to travel internationally during a pandemic like COVID-19?

    Uh, me.  

                                                My hairdresser wears combat boots!   The obligatory pre-trip haircut.


    So did my friend Marg Wood, a world-traveler from Edmonton, Canada, who is an expert photographer and who happens to own and operate a veterinary clinic to support her hobbies.  I was traveling with Marg in February of 2020 on what I claimed was my last trip to Africa.  It occurred to me then that one last trip to celebrate my 80th birthday in 2021 would be a terrific thing to do and I mentioned it to Marg.  

    Thus was born the 2021 trip.  In a pandemic.   With COVID-19 rates soaring in Alaska.   With some countries either locked down or requiring quarantines, all demanding proof of vaccination and negative PCR coronavirus tests with time limits before entering that country.



 Lobby of the Dimond hotel in Anchorage.  It's close to my errands and convenient for me to stay the night before a trip.   It beats chancing a closure by accident or avalanche on the Seward highway.   The spelling is correct, BTW.


     It seemed for many months to be an impossible venture but we (Marg) forged ahead.   Itineraries were planned that made my soul yearn to partake.  Six different camps, five of them new to me.   Two different countries—Botswana and Kenya.  November, my birth month, didn't work out so we opted for October, Marg's birth month.

    So much to look forward to until Murphy raised his jinx.


    It began with trying to solve the tech ability to receive COVID-19 PCR test results while I was en route.   E-Mail, rather than a phone, was the answer.  I did not want to turn on my phone in a foreign country and subject myself to monstrous roaming charges.  That’s when I learned about browsing online with Wi-Fi and with cellular turned off.


        My room at the Dimond Hotel.   The rate are higher than last year's coronavirus lockdown rates, but it is convenient.                                                               Plus, there are other perks.


     Then, finding a place to get such a test.   I drove to the airport in Anchorage to check out its testing site and discovered that it did not do PCR tests that other countries require, just TMA tests, whatever that is.

     Around and around I went, checking here, checking there.   The library parking lot, a sports venue  parking lot.   All with much angst and confusion.   I wound up at Walgreen’s and got the negative result 24 hours later, in time for my departure and within the 96 hours that Kenya allows.   Not without frustrating online complications, you understand.


Oh, yes, I did.   There's no water shortage in Anchorage though I did consider the energy it took to heat all that water.   My stressed-out mind and body luxuriated in this tub.

    Then arose a problem with my original itinerary which took me through London.   At that time, Great Britain was requiring 14-day quarantines regardless of where you arrived from, or whether you were simply transiting the country.


No more breakfast buffets.   Instead, you tell the attendant what you want and it's packaged for you.  Coronavirus rules.

    I changed that quickly.   Now it was Alaska Air to Seattle and overnight.   Icelandair to Reykjavik to Amsterdam.   

     Aha.   Here’s Murphy!   I could transit through Holland without quarantine.   But, as I was planning on overnighting in Amsterdam before flying KLM to Kenya, I would have to leave security and fetch my luggage, thus falling under the quarantine mandate.

    Around and around on the not-so-merry carousel.  Before it was settled, Holland relaxed the quarantine rule and I decided not to leave the airport at all but stay in one of the hotels within the airport.   

    There’s much more to this, but I’m already past 500 words and I haven’t even mentioned the online visa mess.

    Nonetheless, I have stories to tell and photos to share, so let’s get on with the show!!!

    Oh, hi,  Murphy.   I’ve been expecting you…



                        Anti-social distancing reminder.   I LOVE this airline.


    In chapter two, I’ll catch you up on what Murphy wrought between Seattle and Nairobi.







  1. Pretty much if something can go wrong while traveling, it does. Builds fortitude, right? And, why is this your last trip to Africa? You love it so-

    1. International travel is becoming difficult, especially with my loss of hearing. I sometimes don't hear things correctly and it has caused a decrease in my confidence. Also, unless I win a lottery that I never enter, the costs are getting way out of my reach. You're right, though. I can't think of any place I could go and see the variety and abundance of wildlife. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I've been following on FB but also waiting for your full experience to be laid out in one sitting! Can't wait for you to catch us all up on your adventures and lucky shots!! I await them with an encouraged heart, that it's never too late to chase your dreams! Hugs and love - Carol

    1. It will take more than one sitting. Hope your chair glue is strong. Thanks for the comment.

  3. So great to see this first Post. We can well imnagine the problems you encountered travelling during this pandemic. Amazing you pulled the trip off. We can't fathom the stress of the various pandemic requirements all on the run. Absolutely amazing you worked through (especially Great Britain) them and we haven't even seen the trip yet per se. Patti and Cap .. STANDING BY ..

    1. Stand by for sure! Glad to have you along for the ride.