Way back at the end of April I attended an auction to raise funds for New Reach, a non-profit agency I’m involved with. One of the live items auctioned off was a six-day South African Safari; the auctioneer, a local business owner who’s been volunteering at the auction for years and has his chant down pat, is very good at creating a slight fervor over each item on the block. We watched as people bid against each other for the prize, raise programs with their assigned bidder’s number on the back, up the ante in increments of $200 or more. One by one the bidders dropped off leaving just two to fight it out, back and forth like a tennis match. As it turned out there were two trips available so they each walked away with the South African excursion.
A couple of weeks later at the wrap up party for the volunteers I commented to one of the agency’s employees that I knew one of the Safari’s high bidders. I was told that she decided not to take it, it was available if I knew anyone who wanted to buy it. The wheels started spinning that night, my mind trying to wrap itself around the idea of buying it for Bill and me.
‘Would he want to go on a Safari?’ I thought. I really wasn’t sure, he’d never mentioned it as a trip he wanted to take.
I started pulsing my friends, asking them what they thought, should I go ahead and take it? Later that week I took a trip to South Beach with my sister, mom and aunt and asked them what they thought; I had to decide by that Friday while I was in Florida. Everyone I asked thought I should go, it really was a great deal, so I pulled the trigger and bought the trip. The day after I got home from my South Beach weekend I started my day the same way I always do with a few prayers and some inspirational readings. One of my books quoted from “Out of Africa,” I took that as a sign I made the right decision.
I decided to keep the trip a secret from Bill and give it to him for Christmas. Over the last eight months I slowly told just about every one of my friends about the trip, asked them not to tell Bill. When I’d see them they’d pull me aside, ask if Bill knew yet. I’d shake my head, “no.” “Christmas,” I’d tell them.
On Christmas morning Bill, his daughters and I gathered in their living room with our coffee, taking turns opening our gifts. When it was Bill’s turn to open my gift to him I pulled a plastic bucket I bought from a party store with the Go Diego Go character on it out of a bag tucked away behind the tree. I had filled it with safari themed trinkets; we watched him unwrap stickers of safari animals, zebra printed duct tape, a leopard printed pen, a plastic zebra, elephant, giraffe, lion, tiger, cheetah, rhino and other animals that I guessed we might see before opening a shirt box containing the brochure and other information about our trip. He was surprised, excited and happy, I was relieved. We’ve seen a lot of his family since Christmas and he’s been telling them all about his gift. I hadn’t told his girls what I was doing, I wanted to surprise everyone. To our surprise they bought their dad a gopro; I can picture it now, Bill videotaping our entire trip.
We’re planning on traveling in the Fall and staying an additional week. There’s going to be flights to book, extra excursions to plan, shots to get. Now that the Cheetah’s out of the bag we can get to it.