Four In Transit

Tales and Tips About Family Travel Around the World

TOP TEN ELEVEN THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS!

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1. Drive to the Cape of Good Hope  via Chapman’s Peak.  Take the cable car to the top of the mountain and feel the wind that makes this Cape so treacherous to sailors.   Stop in one of the tidal pools along the way, which if you are like us, you will have all to yourself.  Note: Restaurant options are either very pricey (although menu looked great) or crappy pizza, so be prepared. Continue reading

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Ethiopia is incredibly beautiful. We had no idea how beautiful it was, which made the country all the more appealing, because we felt as if we’d stumbled upon a secret. In the course of one or two days of driving, we passed through rolling green hills, mountain ranges, and dusty deserts.

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As Esme says, the acacia is THE image of Africa.

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Our first night at the Hudad, we had dinner around a bonfire on the bluff with the mountains spread out before us, like a movie theater in the round. We were accompanied by a group of Australian woman, who were at Lalibela Hudad trying to set up a school for the local village children. The current closest one was more than a ninety-minute walk away, which meant that most kids didn’t attend. The guards for the Hudad, who were fathers and grandfathers to these children, joined us around the fire after dinner. One of the Australians bought them a round of beers and then explained a nightly tradition where new guests must sing a song from their country.

Nico and I looked at each other; our expressions caught in mild panic. Neither of us could carry a tune. Across the fire, the kids were asleep on a couch under a heap of blankets to keep them warm in the cold mountain air. The guards and Australians looked on with expectant smiles, as Nico and I suggested and dismissed song choices to each other. Suddenly Esme’s eyes fluttered open and she began singing in a soft assured voice:

My grandma and your grandma were sitting by the fire.

My grandma said to your grandma, I’m gonna set your flag on fire.

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One Saturday morning, the summer before last, I proposed taking a hike to our kids, Esme, who was seven at the time, and Roman, who was four. We were at my mom’s on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where she lives year-round, and the “hike” was actually a mile long walk to a creek where it’s nice to take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the cold water. After various threats and bribes, the kids finally agreed to go and then complained all the way there. I called upon my supermom patience, cajoling them to go a bit further, telling them how great they were doing, but inside my thoughts were plumbing darker channels: Was it so much to expect that we could take a peaceful walk in the woods on a Saturday morning? Did other people’s kids give them such a hard time? What were my husband and I doing wrong? Continue reading