Remember that children’s book, We’re going on a bear hunt? It was Maya, our eldest’s, favourite for a couple of years when she was small, and that’s a bit how we’re feeling right now. Except we’re not going on a bear hunt, we’re going on an adventure hunt for six months…in India!
But right now, we’re spending Christmas week at Blue Monkey Cottages on a tiny Muslim island by the name of Wasini. It lies 2 km’s offshore from Kenya’s southern coast, a dot in the Indian Ocean, covered in mangroves, palm plantations and small fishing villages. We’re here with the children’s grandparents, eating lots of crab and coconut rice, snorkelling, swimming at high tide and exploring rock pools at low.
We’re now living out of rucksacks but it hasn’t been plain sailing getting to this point. We’ve had to pack up our house in Nairobi; agonize over what to take with us, what to get rid of and what to ship back to the UK; think about how we’re going to do this whole home-schooling thing; bid farewell to friends after almost five years in Kenya and find homes for our pets.
There have been tears and tantrums along the way, not to mention Andy and I asking ourselves searching questions about whether we are doing the right thing and if we may possibly be a teensy bit mad. It’s been interesting to take a step back from it all and observe at what stage minimising the endless ‘stuff’ in our lives has edged closer on the spectrum towards feeling liberating. Truth is, I’m not quite there yet (I still find myself thinking about a certain article of clothing or implement I could really do with.) Either way, we’ve made our decision, our flight to Mumbai is booked (January 4th 2018) and we’re preparing ourselves practically and emotionally for something we’ve talked about doing for years. Andy and I have backpacked a fair amount in the past, but never with children. Well, we did once travel by train to Marrakech when Maya was nine months old, but that was just one child and it was only a two-week trip.
I’m not promising lots of photos of beaming children standing unflustered on the platforms of Indian railway stations. Because, let’s face it, over the course of the next six months, we’re likely to be having our fair share of ‘moments.’ But that’s alright, because if I’ve learnt anything of use over the past forty years, it’s that the bad is inevitable, and accepting those less than perfect moments only serve to make the good times more satisfying.
Rebecca, Andy, Maya, Lily & Benji
ps It would be remiss of me not to introduce my mother Elizabeth, lovingly known as Granny Amma. She is our honourary travelling Granny and will be spending the first month with us in India. Elizabeth is 73 years old and likes yoga, painting watercolours and discovering new places.
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