Back to Reality

We’re back home from trips to Africa and Europe, and we’re pretty much unpacked. But we’re having a little problem with re-entry to our part of the globe.

In August, Ellen, David and two of their kids went on safari. They miss watching the elephants walk by on the way to the riverbed and hearing the hyenas howl at night. A squirrel chewing their trash is just not as exciting. They crossed over the Limpopo River, the border between South Africa and Botswana, in a metal cage on a cable. They flew in an eight-seater plane piloted by a Prince William lookalike – Captain Matt. No wonder riding in the family minivan seems clunky and smelly.

Andy Scolnic up close with an elephant

A few weeks ago we wrote about how difficult it is to pack light. Here’s how it worked out: David’s master plan of forcing his family to “carry-on only” failed 10 minutes into the trip. At the airport, the airline counter clerk looked at his bag and snarled, “You’re checking that.” But compared to other travelers, the Scolnics did pack light. The porters and guides were surprised that four people had only four bags.

Joyce and Ted took a more civilized trip back in time to medieval Bruges, Baroque Salzburg and Gothic Prague before getting to uber-modern Berlin. Now back home, Joyce is yearning for a chocolate shop on every corner and cheap, delicious house wine with every dinner. When she leaves her bedroom in the morning, no one rushes in to make the bed. And there’s no buffet breakfast awaiting her in the dining room. A rude awakening…

A chocolate anteater and ants in the window of a chocolate shop in Belgium

Before her trip, Joyce read blogs about how to cram enough clothes for two weeks into one small backpack. With the best of intentions she carefully laid out two pairs of pants and four shirts. Ted, not knowing he was supposed to pare down, picked out five pair of pants for the trip. Joyce considered this an invitation to abandon her packing light plan. They – actually Ted – shlepped two large duffels up and down the steps of Europe’s train stations.

We’re still having adjustment problems. In Africa, it was fun to wake up at 6 a.m. to drive and watch the animals. So why is it so hard waking up to get to school on time? In Berlin, it was fun to walk around the city for hours and hours. Why is it such a chore now to walk two blocks to the Rite Aid?

But we’re not really kvetching. We’re grateful for the wonderful opportunity to travel abroad and spend time with our loved ones. Plus, there’s always Yom Kippur to look forward to.

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