My big baby is back from her African trip

Claudia-Liliana

The oldest arrived yesterday after spending a month in Mozambique and Swaziland with her school friends doing their World Challenge trip.  We have missed her.  I have missed her so much.  Her absence for the last thirty days has really come home just how much I’m going to miss her company when she goes off to university next year.

I was in the supermarket two weeks ago about to buy her salmon patê and realised she wasn’t here…I started to shed a little tear…I was overwhelmed by that feeling, the feeling of her absence.  I had to do that thing you do when you’re trying hard not to cry, pressing my lips together and think about something else.

Arriving at Heathrow airport yesterday.

Can you see in this big embrace there’s an extra arm coming out of 5 year old’s back, full of bangles?  That’s allergy kid giving her sister a hug too, apparently she missed her big sister because conversations around the dinner table are far more interesting when she’s around.

I saw a few red teary-eyes from other parents when the kids came through the doors.

I’m very proud of my big girl, she made this trip happen for her.  We said she could go if she raised the main part of the money herself, which was £3,500, and we would help with the extras like vaccinations, visas, clothes and so on.

We spent most of a year being doubtful she would achieve her target but nothing has made us happier than being proven wrong.  With savings from birthday and Christmas money, baby sitting, car boot sales and her weekend job she did it, and we’re immensely proud of her.

We didn’t have any contact with the group while they were there.  They would be moving around, sometimes trekking up a mountain or being transport from place to place with intermittent access to the net.

The only way I could deal with her being so out of touch was to try and not to think about her and place my hope in that no news is good news.

It was easier not think about it when we were away ourselves from home and out of our own routine.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was with the occasional message I received from her on my blog, I received this one while we were in Spain:

“Hi mum! I can’t get email access from here so I thought I’d leave a comment here. Your trip looks really fun. So far we’ve done a little trek which we didn’t manage to finish unfortunately but after a few days at Gorongosa National Park we are rested and ready to start our big trek up Chimanimani. This morning we went on safari and saw a lion!!!!! And there are loads of little monkeys and warthogs wandering around our camp. We’ve seen some amazing views and it feels like a massive family. On the downside, I’m sick of lentils and rice and the layer of dirt I am constantly covered in and my stinky clothes. Tell Lili I saw a monkey! The blog has been updated btw
Lots and lots of love

C. xxxxxxxx”

 

“hello darling, you have no idea how happy I was reading your message, I’ve also passed it on. It sounds like you’re having an amazing time!
I’m so sorry about the lentils and rice and I am fearing you coming home even more stick-like than you already are. I’m now kicking myself for not having given you multi-vitamins to take but I remembered you said you had so many tablets to take already, at least take the calcium ones please :)

I’ll tell L. all about it.

We miss you very much, have fun enjoy it and can’t wait to see you with all your news.

big hug lots of love from all of us, we’re immensely proud of you.

mum xxxxxxxx”

And the next message I received on August 12th:

“Hi only have 20 minutes to write as I’m in an internet cafe in Tofo, Mozambique. We’re coming to the end of our stay here and it has been an amazing few days. Yesterday was E….’s birthday and we got him a MASSIVE birthday cake and hung out in the restaurant/bar in Fatima’s Nest (the place we are staying) which has a really friendly chilled atmosphere.

Before that though we climbed Mt Binga, the HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN MOZAMBIQUE!!!! So you can never call me lazy again. It was really tough, it took 2/3 days to climb up and down. We had a beautiful camp halfway up that was on a massive rock that overlooked a river where we swam and washed. It was very picturesque. The worst part however was having to organise 21 people. Our group are a fantastic lot of people but when you have to organise that many there are always problems. We haven’t had any major arguments yet though so I think we should be good for the upcoming project phase. We are all so excited to start- as we are the last group to go to that village we will be painting the building and teaching the children there.

The last few days we have been relaxing on the beautiful beach of Tofo and yesterday we went on an ocean safari where you snorkel in the sea. Unfortunately there were quite a few of us who couldn’t get to grips with snorkeling including me. I kept getting water in my snorkel and I’m not the strongest swimmer so I only went in twice and didn’t get to swim with the whaleshark that the others saw :/ I did see some humpback whales surface though and the speedboat ride was so much fun I was too upset. When I get home I want to take snorkeling lessons and try again because I am in love with sea animals now :)

There have been many discussions of what we will eat when we get back so I would like to put in a request for a bacon sandwich. They don’t seem to know what bacon is in Mozambique.

I hope you are all having an amazing time too! PLease all come to airport to pick me up!

lots and lots of love,

missing you all,

C. xxxxxxxx

 

“hello darling – I’m so happy to hear from you, I have been thinking about you a lot, keep going around the supermarket and looking at all your favourite food. I’m happy to hear you’re having a good trip and the company is good, have been worried about you coming back stick-thin even more so :/…will have plenty of bacon sandwiches for when you return. G. & L. are now back from Portugal and they had a lovely time.  G. has a healthy tan and looking well, both missing you, we all are. Sending lots of love xxxx mum xxxxx”

Received on 18th August:

“You don’t need to worry about me eating well mum, we have started a Come Dine With Me type thing in our group so we cook something different each night. Tonight was my group and we did Thai Green Curry. It was yummy but some people found it too spicy. We’ve started our project building a school for kids in a nearby village. We are flattening the ground and plastering the walls. The kids are SO CUTE, today we had a hlaf day and played with them. Things I will miss about Africa: the weather; the friendliness of everyone and spending all day with my friends everyday. Things I won’t miss: wearing boots, no bins and being able to eat what I want, when I want! Hope you are all ok. by the way, my reasults should be coming in the post soon- PLEASE DO NOT LOSE THEM or look at them before I do. Apparently everyone failed English Lit, no one got an A even the super clever people. The English department are looking into it, everyone thinks it’s a mistake with the marking. Miss you all and see you soon!!! C xxxxxx”

 

“Glad you’re ok darling. You sound like you’re having a great time, it won’t be long before you’re back here so enjoy every minute. I was worrying that I should have received the results by now but then realised it’s the A-levels results that came out this week not the AS. Glad to read you’re eating! love you and we all miss you and I miss you terribly. mum xxxx”

Received 24th August:

“Hey im at the Airport. Our flight is delayed by 3 hours by the way so a bit of a lie in for you tommorow. I have presents for you all (:

Im looking forward to coming home but i am really going to Miss everyone here and africa in General, especially all the random cows on the roads. Ive been a Bit ill for the Last week (stomach Problems) but its Not serious, just Need some rest :P

I Hope you are all at the Airport to pick me up if possible. Bring my results if you can

Love you all xxxxxxxx”