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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

vacation frame of mind

Coming home from the airport, the kids in their car seats and the trunk stuffed to capacity with bags and travel car seats, it would not be immediately clear to the casual observer which one of us had just returned from a two-week vacation. S, coming off an all-day flight alone with two kids, did not project the picture-perfect image of relaxation. D, meanwhile, looked liked he had gotten some sun and leisure during his family’s absence.

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Hogwarts high life

Cambridge is where D began his brief visit to England and also where his trip ended. Because his friend is a postdoc at one of the thirty-one distinct colleges that comprise Cambridge University, D had a chance to peek behind the curtain and experience this venerable institution of higher learning as both a tourist and an insider.

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British seaside

England’s southern coastline is not the world’s most alluring, but it is striking in its own way. After spending the last year and a half in landlocked Rwanda, moreover, D found it quite refreshing – both visually and meteorologically.

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rain or shine

Driving to the British seashore on a chilly, gray, autumn day reminded D of his only visit to Ireland a few years back. “First time in Ireland?” – the immigration official had asked D at the airport – “Well you’re in luck: it’ll be pissing rain the next five days!”

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Skaville, UK

Perhaps because England always seemed both familiar and easily accessible, D never really troubled to explore it. He had flown through Heathrow multiple times but only left the airport once – a short visit when S was pregnant with Munchkin and had to go to London for an antenatal screening. His visit this month was equally brief, but covered quite a bit more ground.

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a Connecticut yankee in olde England

No matter how many trips one has taken or how long one has lived abroad, there is still something slightly surreal about stepping off an airplane in a country that feels completely different from the place one had departed earlier that same day. Sometimes it’s a foreign language, unfamiliar food, or a difference in culture that strikes one viscerally. At other times it’s something as simple as the weather. There was no surer sign than watching the frigid wind whisk away plumes of the passersby’s hot breath to confirm for D that he had left Rwanda’s placid clime far behind.

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soul recharge

Rushing home from work last Thursday – his last day in the office – D was still too wired, too caught up in wrapping up last-minute projects, to actually relax. The red-eye flight from Kigali to Amsterdam, with its obligatory refueling stop in Entebbe, did little to help. It was only when D reached his friend’s office in Paris around midday on Friday, dropped his bags, and settled into a cute Parisian bistro for a luxuriously slow-paced lunch with two former college classmates that he felt the stress of the previous months begin to ebb away.

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visitors and excursions

Eight months pregnant and chasing after a three-year-old daredevil, S was glad for all the help she could get before D came back stateside. Fortunately, help was aplenty. S’s childhood friend came to spend a long weekend in Portland with her six-year-old son, and S’s parents came down from Bangor the following weekend. And midweek, when S was on her own with Munchkin, she took advantage of the outdoor meet-up groups that proliferate in Maine during the summer months.

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city of gold

With the Gulf all over the news last week, S realized that she never got around to writing about her and Munchkin’s first foray to the peninsula a couple of months ago. Originally, we had planned to go to Dubai as a family to celebrate S’s birthday, taking advantage of the long Easter weekend and the rare direct flight from Kigali. With D’s grandmother’s passing a few days before our scheduled vacation, however, the trip became a solo parenting adventure for S.

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deep in the woods

Flanking the busy road to Jinja, Mabira is a swath of dense rainforest that is not to be missed if one is a nature enthusiast. Hundreds of different bird species call this pristine corner of Uganda home, and Mabira is also one of the only places on Earth to see Old World mangabey monkeys.

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