Motherhood and aging bestowed me with certain gifts and skills that I never noticed until my trip to Kenya. On this trip with a group of enthusiastic young adults, I became the go-to gal for many things mundane.
The first clue of my go-to status was unveiled during the 5 months of pre-trip planning, while my husband and I were deciding when to leave and whether or not to get a group rate airline ticket. The other members of our group were 20 and 30-somethings, who, with benefit of their do-it-now philosophy of life, infused the planning with energy while simultaneously missing the finer points of preparing for the unexpected.
As I plunked down thousands of dollars for an airline ticket, I said: “What about travel insurance?” to which all eyes of those young folks looked at me in shock and disbelief.
“Why would you want to waste your money like that?” was the prevailing response. Ah, I thought, this will be an experience in which we would all learn something.
No hindrances interfered with our flight, and I wondered for a brief second if my $368.00 trip insurance was just a symptom of the worries of being older. But, I was soon vindicated.
On one of our first adventures when we were finally in Kenya, all 30 of us on the journey loaded onto a boat to go snorkeling. Crystal, clear-blue waters of the Indian Ocean beckoned us. Vivid fluorescent fish glided under the water in hues of blue and yellow that I had not seen in my 62 years. Suddenly, the sound of pain and unwelcome surprise broke the spell. Several of the group had been stung by jellyfish. I happened to have toothpaste in my bag, and somewhere in my past, I recall having heard that it was a cure for jellyfish stings. Why I had toothpaste in my bag is irrelevant to the story, but suffice it to say, it was greeted with laughs, surprise and, ultimately, sighs of relief. At that moment, my fate as the go-to gal was sealed.
In my pre-Kenya research, I had learned that safaris evolve into dusty adventures, which provoked my online purchase of a dozen multi-colored bandanas. Cheaper by the dozen was the sole reason I bought so many. After one day traversing the savannah in our open-top jeep, the rest of our group lamented that they were choking on dust. Being able to choose their favorite color was a bonus when I presented the 12-pack of bandanas, spread out like a refreshing flower in the sunbaked savannah.
Motion sickness on a rocking boat, in a lurching safari vehicle, or on a small plane from Nairobi to Mombasa? Don’t worry, kids, I got you covered!
Pepto bismol after a night of partying, unusual food or overindulgence of any other kind? Line up with your hand out, as my mother used to do with cod liver oil when I was a child.
Over the 2 weeks, I found myself doling out cough drops, extra converters, plastic bags and more toothpaste (this time for actually brushing teeth).
With gray hair comes the wisdom of looking beyond one’s nose, and I came to enjoy my status as the one who was always prepared.