Those of us who are here for a year get a 2-week vacation. The Army has a similar policy. Usually it is taken at about the half-way, or 6-month, point. I hit 6 months last week. I'll take my leave just short of being here for 7 months. I like that because I'll have less than 5 months left after I return. The military provides us with a commercial airline ticket to anywhere we want to go. I'm sure my mom would prefer I come home to see her, but I decided to take a trip to Africa.
I'll fly out of here on 30 Nov and initially go to Kuwait. I'll wait there until the military can get me on a commercial flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. I plan on spending a few days there. I'll check out the city, including some museums. I'll also do a day safari in Kruger National Park. From there I'll fly up to Livingstone, Zambia. I chose there because it is the closest city to Victoria Falls. Unfortunately it is the dry season, so the falls won't be in their full glory. Oh well. I'll also check out some parks in that area. Nairobi, Kenya is the next stop after Livingstone. There are multiple museums in the city, national parks are nearby, and Mount Kenya isn't far away. I'll take a day trip to see Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (I decided to pass on the 6-10 day trip for climbing the mountain). I'll leave Nairobi and go back to South Africa, Cape Town this time. I have wanted to go to Cape Town ever since I saw pictures from a visit by friends of mine. I love that the mountains are right next to the ocean. I'm going to experience both, Table Mountain and the beaches. I'll also go out to the Cape of Good Hope and go where I can see sharks and penguins. I'll spend some time relaxing before I have to return to Iraq.
Obviously I'm very excited about the trip. Not only am I looking forward to the experience, but I'm ready for a break from here. I'm also looking forward to wearing civilian clothes, not shaving, and having a beer. My mom is concerned about the crime rate in African cities. She said she'll be happy when my trip is over. I asked her, "So you'll be happy when I'm safe and sound in Iraq?" We had a good chuckle about that.
I promise to give you a recap of the trip and provide pictures when I get back.