19 July 2008

On expedition

Yesterday I said goodbye to Kay for a month. She is off on an expedition to Central America - a month-long trek through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico - struggling up live volcanoes with a 20 kilogram backpack, trekking through tropical rainforests, clambering over Mayan ruins.

http://www.searchpictures.net/travel/mexico/ancient_mayan_ruins,_chichen_itza,_mexico.jpg
Mayan ruins
http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2007-06/mayan-ruins-tikal.jpg

She is going with fifteen schoolfriends, two teachers and the expedition leader (who is employed by the organisation they are travelling with). It is a bit like the Duke of Edinburgh award only more demanding. The "rules" of the project have dictated that Kay has had to finance some of the trip herself, so for part of this exam-stressed year she has also been holding down a part-time supermarket job to earn the money- with what it cost, I reckon it would have been enough instead to buy a set of driving lessons and a second-hand car thrown in. I have also been beavering away, selling superfluous household stuff (old toys, clothes too small, ornaments never used) on ebay to help raise the funds. There has been babysitting, cake sales at school, sponsored fun runs and car-washing done by all the girls involved to raise more for the group fund. Kay has collaborated with her friends to work out the route, the sort of community work they will undertake once there (choices ranging from painting an orphanage or school to preserving dwindling numbers of loggerhead turtles) and how to manage the budget that they will need to live on. The teachers are purely there to ensure safety but will otherwise take a back seat. All decisions on the route, the transport, the food and the guides they take on along the way are down to the girls who will take it in turn daily to lead the group or be part of the team. It will be exciting, but full of risk and often exhausting. They will sleep in their quickly assembled tents in the jungle or in hostels when in towns. In an emergency they have a special piece of equipment that will alert an RAF station in the North of Scotland, so that arrangements can be made for helicopters to be scrambled.

She has looked forward to it for months, but just this last week she has been getting increasingly nervous and tearful, dreading the fact that she will be away from me for a whole month and more importantly out of mobile phone contact too ( they were told not to take mobile phones as there is nowhere to charge the phone up in the jungle and that is assuming you even get a signal at all). As yesterday drew nearer, she became paler and sicker, unable to swallow anything but the smallest glass of water. She was just worried she might get homesick and be all those hundreds of miles from home and away from civilisation, with only tarantulas and leeches to comfort her. Yet she still wanted to go as it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She has only just turned 17 and is the baby of the group, whereas most of her friends are soon to turn 18 in a month or two. I had to harden my heart, put on a big smile from ear to ear and tell her she would be fine.... once she was out there, she would have a great time with her friends and either be so tired (from all the daily trekking carting their homes on their back) or ecstatic from what they were seeing, that she would not have time to even think of home. Once we had hugged our tearful goodbye, I stole back to the car alone and blubbered all the way home.

The image “http://www.condorjourneys-adventures.com/images/guatemala_jungletrek1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Guatemalan rainforest

15 comments:

Flowerpot said...

I can just imagine how you feel, R. Still, she will have an incredible time and will come back a richer person for the experience - so we have to tell ourselves!

Almost American said...

Wow! What a fantastic experience! I can imagine how much you will miss her - at least when she goes off to Uni you'll be able to stay in touch. I remember my sister doing something much less demanding at about the same age, and having a really hard time with it - but at the end she was so incredibly proud of herself and knew she had grown so much that it was all worth while.

Millennium Housewife said...

What an amazing chance for her, you must be very proud of all her hard work, and well done for saving the blubbing until she'd gone! MH

aims said...

Yes - an incredible experience - for both of you!

You are going to worry about her every single second that she's gone - and - she's going to worry about how you are doing at home alone with your husband.

I'm sure you both will count the days until she's home again.

You and your daughter have a very special relationship. It is obviously full of much love - the special kind you get from enduring the unendurable.

MsCatCalls said...

You are right , seventeen is very young still and you are so perceptive about how she is feeling but what a great opportunity and it is amazing and such a tribute to you that she is able to go under the circumstances . Many years ago when I left home to go to university , one of my fellow students had stayed at home with her mum because her dad had alcohol problems .... she just felt she couldnt leave . You've achieved so much that she has gone on this adventure , now you just have to try to cope till she gets back !!

Working mum said...

Thanks for popping in to mine! My school does these expeditions and the kids absolutely love them. When they return they do a presentation in assembly to tell us about it and you can tell it was an experience of a lifetime. Kids you thought wouldn't hack it turn out to be the strongest. She will remember this for the rest of her life as amazing adventure!
PS I would have blubbed too!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

any chance of an email address I can send a meassage to you?

sazfab@hotmail.com

cheers (or not)

sara x

Fern said...

I admire your strength yet again and can only imagine how worried and nervous you must be but what a wonderful opportunity and great adventure for her, she so obviously deserves it.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It's not surprising she is tearful, a month is a long time but it is also a chance in a lifetime. She will be fine and she will have the most amazing experience.

CJ xx

blogthatmama said...

What a brilliant experience for Kay, I hope she has a great time, must be very difficult waving her off!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I hope Kay has a wonderful time (sounds absolutely fantastic)...I've been to Costa Rica and Venezuela..but nothing as adventurous as that. There's an award over at my blog for you...I think you are great for letting her go when you will miss her so much! Hadriana x

Katherine said...

I am in admiration that, despite all you two have been through, she has a rock-solid mother, enough to let her go and do this wonderful trip. You are truly an amazing woman, and super mother.

rosiero said...

Thanks for all your comments and support. It does seem very strange without her, I must say.

Fat, Frumpy and Fifty - sorry I want to keep some anonymity (I am sure you can understand why in the circumstances).

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

ok, l see....l sent you an email, l just was overhwlemed with our story and l had the ened to 'share' privately with another who understood. ... but l totally understand...

rosiero said...

FFF - Thanks :-)