I have to admit. I am one of those people who loves both, trees ànd animals. And to top it off, I love all of that as long as it comes packaged in some luxury. Our third day in Senegal started to look much more like my kind of holiday as we moved from luxury hotel to charming boutique hotel. And the activities accompanied the same trend.
That morning we awoke in the Lamantin Beach hotel, the kids enjoyed an early swim in the pool, we took our time for a leisurely breakfast together. I quickly packed our cases as the kids dipped in the pool again. Little Willem played just outside our hut. The good little man had understood he was to stay in view of mommy if he wanted to continue enjoying a freedom roam outside.
The porters came to pick up our suitcases in our room and we were ready to board our airconditioned bus for the next adventure. The kids had waited until the absolute last possible moment to pull out of the swimming pool, so they boarded the bus in wet clothes, which dried in a matter of minutes. This day was to be filled with experiences that I really really wanted. I knew from the moment of booking this holiday for sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that Africa would be good for me and would open floodgates of grace.
First stop: Accro-baobab. We entered a big park, with huge, large baobab trees. These trees are so beautiful and mostly unknown to the rest of the world. These ancient trees are hundreds of years old. Their fruit, monkey breadfruit, is very powerful. Mainly used when dried, can last up to 2 years without preservatives, and is probably Africa’s best kept beauty secret for luscious hair and glowing skin. Now there’s a business idea.
The kids got themselves kitted out with climbing material and were briefed on safety precautions. Then split up into two groups: the small kids to one side of the park to follow a less high journey through the trees. And the adults and bigger kids to swing around in the very tops of the baobab trees. Needless to say they loved it, my little monkeys.
I had for a brief moment entertained the idea to climb the trees myself with little Willem in a carrier sling. However, standing humbly in the shadow of these giant trees, I decided to keep my feet on the ground and spent some quality time playing with my toddler in the shade of a sheltered area.
Our travel guides seemed worried I might be getting bored, whilst I was having a great time running after my littlest one, drinking tonic and having a few naughty smokes. I get mad when people try to entertain me endlessly. I like my alone-time. Deeply irritated if I don’t get some quality me-time. I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I eat gluten. You know…
We consumed a light lunch of savoury pancakes and french fries in the sheltered area. Then we made our way by bus to our next stop: an animal safari in the Nature Reserve of Bandia.
We split up into two groups for the safari jeeps. One jeep for all the littles and one for the boring grown ups. We toured the 3.500 hectares of natural habitat. It was wonderful. After viewing this, you never want to visit a zoo again in your entire life. Zoos are shameful prisons for beautiful creatures that have been put on this earth to roam and live in beautiful surroundings.
We saw giraffes, monkeys, snakes, ostriches, rhinoseros, crocodiles, zebras, beautiful birds, giant tortoises, … A truly magical experience. The kids were wildly exstatic to be witnessing so much wild life right in front of their eyes. The guides were knowledgeable of each species and very respectful in their approach.
After the safari, we stopped by the bar for some refreshments. Admired the monkeys jumping about the tables, and watched the crocodiles swim in the pool of water. So much beauty, heat and gorgeous nature all around us. Time had become elastic in Africa. Holiday and no internet. For me, just pure bliss to spend all of my undivided time and attention with my little darlings, my treasures, my three beautiful children.
And by now, we were all getting weary again and dreaming only of swimming in a refreshing swimming pool, including me. We made our way to our final hotel, the Souimanga Lodge. This place was just pure grace and paradise. Spending time in such breathtaking scenery with your children is nothing far from a soul-changing, ass-grabbing, life-changing experience of extreme unprecedented motherhood. I found myself turned on, lit up, and set free. All true. The feeling that remains when reflecting back on our days in Senegal, on African soil, in gorgeous Souimanga Lodge evoke these feelings of freedom within me. Freedom, unbounded time, limitless opportunities with my treasures.
So I bring you tidings of good cheer: it is never too late to pack your bags and take your brood on adventures. Be an extraordinary woman and a ordinary mom for your children. Bust the locks on patriarchy and step out into the world, with your darlings clutching on tightly to your skirts. Feel you power and irrefutable immeasurable uncontainable value. Own it. Live it.
Senegal was my moment to say yes to life.
Yes to a side of me that knew I wanted and deserved more .
Yes to motherhood.
Yes to my darling little treasures.