What’s the last thing you want to do four weeks before your due date in the heat of an African summer when you are slow and lumbering as a beached whale and only want to lie on the couch under a fan eating squares of cooling dark chocolate? Get in the car and drive for 20 hours across the desert!

Too bad: we don’t have a choice. And so today begins the grand adventure, a roadtrip from land-locked Botswana to the salty beaches of Cape Town, South Africa, 1,500 kilometers away, so we can usher Baby #2 into the world with style. After all, the New York Times declared Cape Town the “#1 place to go in 2014.” So our son is starting off life¬†with the trendsetters.

Getting our family ready to embark on this trip has at times resembled a major military operation or preparing for¬†Jules Vernes’ hot air balloon adventure in Around the World in 80 days. The sheer amount of paperwork involved in transporting our dog across the border, getting Drew a Botswana drivers’ license (his US one expired), and securing our new residence permits would stun even the most energetic listener into a glazed over funk of mind-numbing boredom. Let’s just say we spent the last five weeks in arduous bureaucratic hell, but now it is almost over and we are ready to go.

Along the way, my body took the opportunity to have a total immune system collapse. My doctor in Botswana says that pregnancy doesn’t dampen your immune system, but I think he is wrong and my 30 seconds of internet research agrees. Here are the various afflictions I have encountered since the beginning of August:

A migraine so bad it put me in the emergency room.

A head cold.

Another cold, that eventually led to bronchitis.


The beginnings of another migraine (which I headed off at the pass this time).

A sty in my eye.

Oh, and Lila got pinkeye and a chest cold.

I want to yell Uncle! I surrender! I’ve had enough! But I don’t know what malevolent forces are unleashing all the pestilence so I don’t know who I would yell at. The sty, which I woke up to find glaring and crusty out of my eyeball two mornings ago, was really the final straw. I half expected to wake today covered in boils or maybe come down with a light case of smallpox. I mean: what’s next? (Note to self: don’t tempt fate.)

The good news is that we are only a month away from my due date and headed to a city of cool breezes and healing salt ocean air. Maybe I can stop being a petri dish there. But we have to make it to Cape Town first. We’re traversing the barren wilds of South Africa to do it, stopping at night to stay in small (dog-friendly) guesthouses along the way. Last night one of the cars we were supposed to take on the trip died, right on the road, while I was driving home from work. I had just been thinking to myself, “Man, I’m tired. There’s so much packing to do still and I can’t believe I had to work late. What’s next?” when it happened. Now we may have to take a different car and strap all of our belongings onto the roof in tatters like a dishevelled family fleeing the Dust Bowl. The lesson, as always, is that things can always get worse. Here’s hoping the good luck starts now!