Kay has not only been away from home, but also away from the UK for what seems like years, but in reality is only months. I miss her so much. She is my one and only child and now my one and only surviving relative, so naturally I miss her. She has only been away for 14 weeks and will back in another six weeks.
She is currently having the experience of a lifetime. She has come to a natural hiatus in her career. The time between being a junior doctor for just two years and starting the hard slog to the next major rung of Registrar. Before embroiling herself in the next two-year phase of hospitals and exams combined, she wanted to see the world. It wasn't going to be possible once she put her head down and worked the arduous schedules that a doctor has to work. It might not also be possible once she got tied down by mortgages or children of her own. So it was now or never at the age of 26 years old. She was going to take a year off the career ladder and have a delayed GAP year.
She had a plan. She spent the first seven months (August to February) working as a locum in a big London teaching hospital, squirreling away the high fees locums can earn. That fund was to support her financially over the remaining five months (March to July) when she would go travelling. Her boyfriend, a dentist, did the same.
In early March, the two of them set off. First to Thailand, where they visited umpteen temples, lounged on golden sands in deserted coves, played with elephants and learnt how to cook Thai-style.
Then on to Cambodia to learn of its horrific past of Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Next was Vietnam with its crazy bikers in Ho Chi Minh City, its quaint sea resorts and the bustle of Hanoi. (Not to mention that monkey bite.)
Then on to South America, starting with Argentina, where they learned to tango (it does take two), admired the haunts of Eva Peron (Evita), and took in tours of the Malbec vineyards.
Then down to the deep Patagonian south of the continent, the "end of the world", where they climbed glaciers
and watched sea-lions and penguins, just as Charles Darwin would have done.
On to Santiago in Chile. The Argentinian and Chilean painters and decorators alike seem to have had a field day and gone berserk with a job-lot of paint.
Then sand-boarding in the desert followed by crossing the salt flats in Bolivia, ending up at Lake Titicaca in Copacobana (and not the one Barry Manilow sings about).
Next to Peru and the main part of their tour, not to mention the title of this post. They have volunteered to work with a charity that runs medical boats along the Amazon. These are floating clinics staffed by doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives and physiotherapists. Most of the medics are Peruvian, but foreigners can volunteer to work free of charge on the boats for the experience. These boats call in at remote villages where the only access is by river. If these boats did not come, the villagers would have no access to a doctor. Kay and boyfriend are, as I write, currently on board, treating tribes who are highly suspicious of modern medicine, but resort to it when their own herbal remedies fail.
Kay is also out of internet contact, because they are in the middle of the rain forest. I shan't hear from her for another five whole days!!! (How my parents coped when I went off to Germany for a year in 1971 with only snail mail, which took a week to get anywhere, or the very rare highly expensive phone call from a kiosk, I shall never know).
The next thing on the list, after the Amazon trip, will be a trek up to the summit of Machu Pichu. Then on to Ecuador and Colombia, before the flight back home towards the end of July. I expect they will both be very weary. Kay starts her new job back on the career ladder on 1 August. She'll need a holiday first!
She will have experienced so many sights, sounds, smells and changes of cuisine from nine different parts of the world. Something most people never get in a lifetime. What a marvellous experience.