The CRAZY, Never-Before-Seen Thing I Saw On Our Family Trip To Africa



8,342 miles.

Three plane rides.

29 hours of travel.

What a trip.

To see the sights of South Africa.

Elephant, hippos, rhinos!

Come on over and I’ll be happy to inundate you with our family’s vacation photos and videos.

None comes close to the most remarkable thing I witnessed on this adventure with my husband and two kids.

After all,

How do you prepare a teenager they are about to enter a world they’ve never experienced?

A desert.

A nightmare, some might say.

The land of no wifi.

I looked to Husband.

Husband looked to me.

Were we ready for this?

To be with our two teenagers for two days, cutting them off from access to their prime life source?

A more fascinating behavioral study hasn’t been done since Jane Goodall showed up to observe chimpanzees.



Baby zebra finds life source from mama. For American teens, wifi is like mother's milk.

Baby zebra finds life source from mama. For American teens, wifi is like mother’s milk.

Did we suddenly get engaged conversationalists eager to make eye contact?

Oh, that I could report that.

More like Sampson losing his super powers with his hair cut off.

“No wifi?” they squeaked, as if we were talking to them in Zulu.

Like wild peacocks fanning their feathers to look bigger, was their teen bravado.

“No problem,” they harumphed.

The slight twitching in their eyelids betrayed the true fear they had for the unchartered land they were headed for.

Loaded up and ready to go see wild animals. Pilanesberg, South Africa

Loaded up and ready to go see wild animals. Pilanesberg, South Africa

As we loaded up in the open-air jeep to head out on our first drive, our teens clutched their phones as their only hope of a future lifeline.

Just as Dorothy’s ruby red slippers would one day get her back to Kansas, surely, this 2 ½” x 5” rectangle of plastic and glass would one day, somehow, reconnect them to their real world, social media.

“Want to shoot pictures with one of these?” I offered holding up the two nice cameras I brought along to capture the incredible wildlife.

Cue the laughing hyenas.

A contraption that requires an extra step of uploading to a laptop before sharing with the world?

There’s an idea flatter than a hippo sitting on a beach ball.

How a teen sees Africa on our family trip--through her phone.

How a teen sees Africa on our family trip–through her phone.

The phone.

It’s all about the phone.

And connection.

And validation.

To talk to our teens in person, to ask them about the experience of being out in the wild with those elephants, hippos, rhinos, and baboons, was to get mild, “It was good,” reviews.

Baby follows mama rhino, just one of the incredible things witnessed on our family trip to South Africa.

Baby follows mama rhino, just one of the incredible things witnessed on our family trip to South Africa.

But like lions on the hunt, Husband and I were patient.

Two days into our trip we headed to the big city, to a real hotel, to, yes, wifi.

The girls attached themselves to that internet hose like a lost thirsty elephant coming upon a water hole.

Couldn’t upload their photos, thoughts, and experiences fast enough.

Our teens' favorite scenery on our family trip to Africa-on their phones

Our teens’ favorite scenery on our family trip to Africa-on their phones

Our teens were finally back in their natural habitat, online.

And our parental feast, our payoff lay before us on the screen.

“You’re in Africa!” their friends commented on various social media feeds. “How is it?”

“AMAZING!” they replied.

At last the chance to see our “too cool for school” teens sharing true feelings of awe.

That was one heck of a trip indeed.

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The CRAZY, Never-Before-Seen Thing I Saw On Our Family Trip To Africa

by DarynKagan time to read: 2 min
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