I felt my night nurse summed up my marriage pretty well the other day when she declared that cycling was The Husband's second wife. I think that if I were ever to find myself in some kind of parallel universe in which I was in a polygamous marriage, I'd be as jealous of my "sister wives" as I am of The Husband's cycling. Because of this obsession with cycling, I suppose it is not surprising that The Princess' first trip away from home, would be a cycling trip. The Husband was taking part in a four day stage race in Mpumalanga and I was to go along, bringing in tow The Princess, her granny, her nanny and two 4X4's FULL of baby stuff. We had everything from teething gel to a huge electric steriliser (which proved useless after the cord was left behind in Joburg). I am very familiar with overpacking because I have travelled very, very heavily all my life. The difference with a baby is that you actually do use almost all of the things you pack.
After The Husband had filled up both his car and his cycling partner's car with bicycles and ALL our stuff, we eventually set off several hours late – I've heard that's par for the course when you go away with a baby… The Princess passed out before we'd even left Sandton and had a pretty good kip for the first part of the journey. Breastfeeding in the back seat in the parking lot of a petrol station was a first for us, but fortunately anyone in the vicinity was entirely consumed by the site of several rhinos wandering around in an enclosed camp about 15m from the parking lot. Bizarre, but a useful distraction.
For the first five hours of travelling, The Princess was a little angel, but thereafter she was starting to get annoyed being strapped into her car seat. At this opportune moment, The Husband managed to get us lost. Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. He did so, despite being armed with:
1. A GPS unit
2. A map book
3. Written directions from the hotel, including a map
And they say women have a poor sense of direction?
The upshot of it all is that we drove to Hazyview via Sabie, which, if you're not familiar with the area, is not the most direct route from Joburg. The Princess was not amused by her daddy's blunder.
Speaking of her daddy, he is the most atrocious passenger and relentless backseat driver that ever lived. To the extent that I now refuse to drive if he's in the car. He can stress a driver out to the extent that they actually become more prone to driving as recklessly as he is predicting they will. The Mother Figure witnessed this backseat driving about two years ago and so she was curious as to how he was coping being in the passenger's seat while his cycling partner drove alongside him. She made a good point. I was also a little curious. But I told her that I was certain he reserved his backseat driving for me and that he probably wouldn't dare attempt it with his cycling partner. Just then The Husband phoned from his cycling partner's car to discuss directions (wrong ones, at that). A minute or so into the conversation, I heard:
"Please. For the love of God. PASS that car!"
Yeeha! So I am officially not the only one whose driving gets running commentary from him…
When we arrived in Hazyview on the Friday evening, it was a balmy 25 degrees. However, over the next two days I was colder than I have been in years. I couldn't believe it. I thought that daytime in the Kruger/ Hazyview area was supposed to be warm and lovely. No such luck for us, though. As a result, The Mother Figure and I decided to take a drive into the Kruger Park as it was too cold to do anything outdoors. Unfortunately, we saw wilder animals at the petrol station along the N4. The sum total of our sightings in the Kruger amounted to: a mongoose, some springbok, a few bushbuck and a couple of zebras. We also saw a zebra wandering around the gardens of our hotel, as well as a springbok in the bushes surrounding the hotel, so not much need for a 60km round trip to view the above.
On the Monday, the weather finally decided to play ball which led us to pack the nappy bag and go and support The Husband and his cycling partner during their time trial up a very steep and windy Kovyn's Pass. We parked the car halfway up the pass, put The Princess in her baby carrier and stood by the side of the road to cheer "our team" as they came past. I think The Princess should have been awarded a special prize for being the youngest supporter by far. It was impossible to time our support between feeds, so once again The Princess and I settled down to breastfeed in the car. She'd point blank refused to feed in the car at the gate to the Kruger Park but this time she seemed to be extra hungry and didn't mind where she fed.
Tuesday (Women's Day) saw The Husband and his cycling partner very kindly giving up Stage 4 of their race so that The Mother Figure and I could make it back to Jozi in time for Burn the Floor (a dance show which I highly recommend if you enjoy watching dancing). Once again, The Princess was a little angel during the car journey until we were all but home, when she started screaming blue murder. You could almost hear her going, "Get me OUT of this CHAIR!!!"
When we finally arrived home and she was released from her car seat, she was all smiles again.
All in all, I completely survived my first travels with baby. I have to say it was a good dry run for France next week and I am feeling far less apprehensive than I was before. And this despite having to deal with a HUMUNGOUS poo along the N4. If we survived that, we can survive anything, The Princess and I!
And France is most definitely happening because The Princess officially has her visa and so does her nanny. Yeeha! A bientot, mes amis!