As with all previous working vacations, this one ended well before Ruth and I were ready to leave. On that final day in Nairobi my feelings of exuberance and delight were in marked contrast to the tears of uncertainty described in the earlier post Fears and Doubts. Our going-away dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant, a well-known Nairobi bar and eatery famous for game meat (see photo) was a rousing, rambunctious, and bittersweet affair. During this three-month African sojourn we had made good friends with whom we are still in contact, traveled throughout the region, and saw incomparable sights, both expected–animals, game parks–and completely unexpected–Rift Valley archeology, the vibrant Jewish community, the slums of Kibera. Best of all I was able to contribute to the academic program of the University of Nairobi, learn about life in Kenya, settle in to a comfortable routine, and even begin to feel a bit like a local.
When we returned to Minneapolis in early September 1987, my wife and I agreed that this Kenyan adventure had cemented our dedication to long-term travel and convinced us that living and working overseas would be a permanent part of our professional lives. The postings described on these pages—England, Israel, Australia, and now Kenya—had brought us to the point where we were no longer travel “newbies;” no longer intimidated by daily life in a strange, new place. Instead, we were well on our way to gaining a reputation as seasoned, street-savvy world travelers able to adapt to and flourish in a new culture, a reputation those around us were also beginning to notice. Family members, friends, and colleagues began inquiring how I was able to locate, plan, and finance these exotic vacations. They asked questions about renting out our home, finding overseas accommodations, staying healthy, and traveling safely with young children. More and more I found myself relating stories and sharing ideas about how they might create their own colorful adventures to their own dream destinations. Thus began my lifelong passion for storytelling and helping others to live and work overseas, a passion that ultimately led me to produce this blog and author the book On The Other Guy’s Dime: A Professional’s Guide To Traveling Without Paying, a combination travel memoir and “how-to” guide now nearing completion.
Following our return Ruth and I did not promise to duplicate this experience on a fixed schedule as we were well aware that the timing of future working vacations would depend on the vagaries of funding, family, and job availability. However, we did commit to doing everything in our power to locate and take advantage of whatever opportunities might arise, and we pledged ourselves to ensuring that the interval between trips would never become inordinately large. Fortunately, the next adventure, an all-expenses paid working vacation to Japan, was not too long in coming.