Backpacking with my mom

Since I can remember, I’ve always had this curiosity to visit other countries. Growing up with working class parents, we didn’t have the opportunity to travel that much, but trust me, I’ve made up my time since then. I’ve been to ~70 countries more or less. Not that it’s a competition, however, I am often asked that question.

I share this passion with my mom so I guess it was normal that we went backpacking together. We’ve been to a few places such as Hawaii, Costa Rica, Europe (Scotland, England and Netherland) and our last trip but not least Africa (Morocco, Kenya and Tanzania). Although we share this common interest and I’m told that I look like my mom, we are very different. So, when I convinced her to come backpacking with me once again, she was dubious. Furthermore, when I said, let’s go to Africa, a continent we had never set foot. She was afraid of getting eaten by a lion, I told her, well, if that happens, it will just be cheaper for the funeral, just a quick prayer and it’s done. For some reason, that didn’t reassure her. I believe humor is good tool to dissolve fear. Of course, everyone remembers images of dying Ethiopian kids. Luckily, my mom was confident that I would choose a nice place or if she wasn’t, she didn’t say anything.

Off we were for a month in Kenya and Tanzania. After a brief 4 days stopover in Morocco, we landed in Nairobi. No plans, nothing booked except our first nights and a taxi as we arrived so early. Of course, the taxi never showed up, we ended up taking the offer of a nice girl and the driver. We had no clue where we were headed, turned out neither did they so it took more than an hour, even with the help of the hostel’s manager. Let the adventure begin!

We agreed on staying at hostel, however to book our private room, seemed like a good compromise. We met young people from all over the world and the hostel (https://milimanibackpackers.com) was really nice and a Norwegian guy asked us if we were interested in the four days safari tour that left the following day. Turn over to my mom, she agrees, we paid, simple as that. We left early morning the following day. We had an amazing trip with three Norwegian guy’s and a Japanese girl. All went well, my mom didn’t get eaten by a lion either. We saw the big five: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros. My favorite were the Zebras, Oskar can attest to that, I guess I was annoying as they are thousands of them, there was no point of getting overly excited like I was. I really liked the giraffe too.

 

It was great seeing my mom enjoy herself so much, we had an amazing experience as she never in her lifetime expected to visit Africa. Going on the safari right away was a good idea as it set the pace for the rest of the trip. After returning from the safari, it was decided that we would head to Tanzania. It wasn’t in the planning, but heck, an 8 hours bus ride and we were looking at the Kilimanjaro out of the window!!!

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We stayed in Moshi and had a great time just wandering around town, it reminded my mom of her own country of birth. From there, we took two flights to Zanzibar island. My mom was about to stunned by the sheer beauty of the East African Coast. What she saw was white sand with clear and turquoise-blue water exactly like the postcards. We also happened to meet a nice New Zealand family backpacking as well. Mother, daughter and son. We enjoyed a nice 4 days beach vacation.

 

It was time to head back to Kenya, I had heard about Diani Beach along the coast, another plane ride to Mombasa where we stayed smack downtown in a shady hotel. The worst place of the trip that happened to be quite well located. We walked and tried not to get killed by the traffic. I would grab my mom by the arm and we would bravely cross the street. We had a tourist guide gives us a free tour of the city, the spice markets etc. we ate really well in Mombasa, but hardly slept, the music went on at the restaurant next door until wee hours in the morning. Twice I went to complain to the receptionist as it was Wednesday night, to no avail. Trying to avoid the high cost of the taxi, we took the tuk tuk early morning to the free ferry which was an experience in itself, not many tourists in that ferry, only local people. Then another bus and a tuk tuk to finally arrive at destination. Once again, the beach was beautiful (same coast just further north of Zanzibar). We stayed 5-6 nights, can’t remember, but it sure was fun and we met some great people. Once again from all over the world. It was great that my mom got along with everyone and that there always seemed to be someone who spoke Spanish or French. I rediscovered the adventurous and independent side of my mom. I never felt like I had to entertain her, she made friends easily even if she didn’t speak English that well. The staff loved her, she probably got proposed a few times. It was time to head back to Nairobi. Back in the bus, heavy rain, crossing the ferry once again and for some happy conjuncture we were able to get tickets on the new train route that brought us back to Nairobi. This route went across a National Park so we were able to see wildlife for free. Of course, not as close as when we did the safari, but still and nice experience and especially a very comfortable train ride. Obviously quicker than taking the bus. In our last few days, we rented an Airbnb more centrally. We were able to visit the Elephant orphanage and the Giraffe center, two great experiences, we rode in moto-taxi’s and Uber, cheapest way to go around the city.

 

We loved our first experience in Africa, without a doubt, we could have stayed longer, there is so much to do and see. Everyone was very friendly with us, we took local buses and talked to the locals. She loved the fact that all seemed to think we were sisters. For an unplanned trip everything turned out really good, we met amazing people along the way and saw beautiful scenery.

The young people were telling me how lucky I was to be able to backpack with my mom, how they wish they could do the same with their mom. There were times when she was tired, I made her walk a lot and I like playing jokes on her. Like the day, I was rubbing a banana peel on her arm telling her I was exfoliating her body or telling her I wasn’t hungry and as soon as her food came, I’d eat half of it.

 

I am grateful my mom is still young enough and willing enough to follow me in my travels. I realized how alike we are when it comes to traveling, independent women and not scared of getting out of our comfort zone. Most parents would not stay in hostels even if in private rooms. For me, traveling is not just seeing beautiful places, but also meeting other like-minded people and sharing a common passion. Next destination with my mom, most likely Sri Lanka in 2020.

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