It’s Tuesday, June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest in the Southern Hemisphere, which we just left. And, given the length of this trip, this June 21 will be our longest June 21 ever. It’s been a fantastic journey, but we’re looking forward to getting back to San Francisco, where we will have some special guests from Beijing (guess who?) already in residence.

Here are some photos from our four days in gorgeous Cape Town.

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If you’re interested, please recheck the blog for photos now up!

Cape Town blog to follow (maybe from the airport tomorrow night? SOOO much to do in this gorgeous city!).

And, by the way, in case you wondered, we DID end up seeing the BIG FIVE: finally caught up to a leopard or two in Botswana. But once it was at night and once well hidden in trees, so our photos weren’t good  (you can’t really tell it’s a leopard) and we will get some from one of the better photographers.

I thought they’d down (up?) loaded, but apparently not. Will try to add later. Sorry. Cape Town fantastic, a great place to re-enter civilization!

Thursday, June 16

We’re in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (vs. the Zambian side of the Falls, which is outside the city of Livingstone). We’ve been here since Tuesday afternoon, staying at an actual lodge with walls and windows, which makes the nights a whole lot warmer than the last camp and a whole lot less scary than them all (though there’s a watering hole down the hill from the lodge, and reportedly a killer elephant in area).

Having been to Iguassu Falls in Argentina (and Niagara), I can say that Victoria Falls is at least as spectacular, but it’s impossible to compare the three. We were offered the opportunity to sign up to bungee jump or swing (zip line) from the bridge over the falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Uh—I don’t think so. Ditto for helicopter rides over. Just being here is enough of a thrill! (And Eli and I DID volunteer to be among the three group members to take yet another four-seater plane ride between Hwange and “Vic Falls.”

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Monday, June 13, and Tuesday, June 14 (photos)

On this OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) trip we have stayed at four different camps in three different countries (plus Eli and I were in Kwa Zulu Natale in South Africa for five nights beforehand). You might think that it all would begin to look alike and also that we might begin to get a little jaded. But, like crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco (or taking in one City view or another—even coming home from the grocery store or waiting for the eye MD at UCSF)—each tent camp and game ride was a new experience. Remarkably, neither of us has had one back twinge the entire time, which says something about the relaxation factor of this amazing holiday.

First, there was Botswana, and the aforementioned (Elephant in the Room) lodge in Chobe National Park—ravine setting, pontoon boat trip on the nearby river. Then, in the Okavanga Delta, also Botswana, where the reeds and grasses hinted at the delta beyond, but the nocturnal hippo sounds confirmed it; we also road mokoro canoe boats on the delta itself. Lufopo Lodge in Zambia boasted a fabulous view of the confluence of the Lufopo and Kafue Rivers in Kafue National Park. Finally, here in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, it’s an open savannah-like, with tall grasses prevailing over occasional thickets. Very “Out of Africa.” (But where are Robert Redford and Meryl Streep when you need them? The theme music floats through my head all the time!)

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Elephant in the Room: We’re not on Barnett Lane Anymore!

Monday, June 6

Some blog readers might remember our Milwaukee house across the street from more expensive homes that over looked Lake Michigan. For those who were never there, it was on Barnett Lane, a lovely street in Fox Point, a suburb only 15 minutes from downtown—20-25 minutes on the scenic route along Lake Drive, instead of the freeway. But the setting was bucolic–a mid-century modern ranch home perched atop a wooded ravine and set back from the street as the second house on a long driveway. Sometimes we’d drive in and have to wait while a deer or two crossed the path into the garage. I remember once having a guest from New York City nearly fainting with awe at the tableaux of deer assembled in the back yard at the exact moment she walked into the living room. At night there was a menagerie silhouetted by our motion detector lights: the spooked deer (“caught in the headlights”) which would stop in their tracks, but our scrawny resident red fox (it WAS Fox Point, after all) and the feisty raccoons took it in their stride. The trees and bushes surrounding the house and filling the ravine lushly bloomed to capacity around Mother’s Day every spring and, even bare of leaves, framed a picturesque landscape all winter. Never much of a gardener, I felt less need to be one there, so we welcomed the deer nibbling on our leaves—unlike our neighbors with more extravagant landscaping.

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When blogging, there’s nothing like free internet access from afar!

Sorry for the lag, but the five days in the province of  Kwa Zulu Natale were internet-challenged: we were able to get email via the lodge’s computers (for a fee), but spending the time and money for a blog post wasn’t in the cards. We’re back in Johannesburg again today (free WiFi at our airport-area hotel), toured Soweto and  a museum dedicated to the deadly June 16, 1976, student anti-apartheid demonstration, met up with our OATS (Overseas Adventure Travel) fellow-travelers of the next two+ weeks. Most from CA (Walnut Creek predominates), as well as Oregon. The Zululand experience was the one we bought at a charity auction in 2008 (as did everyone at the place; Eli is curious about its business plan). Not an area most people get to (Indian Ocean proximity), but cool. There, most of the people were from Seattle or Alaska. West Coast people gravitate to Africa–why?

Anyway, I’m downloading a small portion of our photos from Kwa Zulu Natale. You get the picture (so to speak). We hear every area has its unique safari experience. We won’t bore you with TONS of similar photos.

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OK–after all the lazy blogger content (photos), here’s a short piece re: the substance of the past two weeks. And just who were those unmasked men traveling with us?

We were part of an American Jewish Committee (AJC) mission to Asia led by Bob Elman, AJC national president, a sometime San Francisco resident and friend; Jim Busis, the professional director of AJC’s Asia-Pacific Institute (API) based in Washington, DC; and Gary Jacobs, the lay chair of the AJC’s API, from Los Angeles. Also with us were Gosia Weiss (a stunning blonde), who works for AJC in Los Angeles, and Cliff Goldstein, new Los Angeles AJC president; Ken Kahan, an AJC member from Los Angeles; and Murray Lee, from Seattle, who runs a trading business in Asia.

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We’re in the Hong Kong airport (Cathay Pacific Cabin business class lounge–all those HIPPY trips to Little Rock and visits to my mom in Chicago paid off in so many miles…). This is transition between the AJC Asia mission and Africa dream trip. Feel very global–and remarkably more accepting of our global family life. Have whole new answer to others’ angst about Amy and Jonathan living abroad. Between seeing them and their friends AND meeting so many wonderful people like them throughout Asia, I have come to a different view of expat mom role. Hmm–time to trade Telegraph Landing for Beijing condo?

Enjoy the smattering of photos.  The safari ones will be a tad different–and the wardrobe will change, for sure. Plan is to ship Asia bags from hotel in Johannesburg (first Africa stop) to the one in Capetown (last Africa stop).

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Israel Ambassador to Japan Nissim Ben Shitrit welcomes us at his stunning Tokyo residence.

As previously announced, the days have been long–and the Internet access either iffy or outrageously expensive. Here’s a quick first installment of photos. I started to publish this in Beijing Saturday AM. It’s now Tuesday night in Hong Kong. Hope you get a flavor of the trip in photos. More to come to catch you up on Asia leg before we leave for Africa tomorrow night (I hope).

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