Mentally, I think we're much more prepared or at least as prepared as we can be. These sort of trips have a way of exploding stereotypes and preconceived notions about a place. So far, our notions of Africa are shaped by some combination of friends who hunt, friends who oppose hunting, Megan's public health experience, Bono, and, of course, David Livingstone.
Some background on the latter: I was studying in one of the SMU libraries this semester when my thoughts began to wander. Then my eyes began to wander and found a decaying book on a bottom shelf. The book was David Livingstone's Adventures and Discoveries of Dr. David Livingstone and the Herald-Stanley Expedition, published in 1872. On the title page, I found a passage that has been a major inspiration for future travels while simultaneously revolutionizing the way I think of the abbreviation "etc." Hubbard Brothers, the publisher, brilliantly advertised the book as:
“A Complete Reliable and Graphic History of the Extensive Explorations, Important Discoveries and Thrilling Adventures of the Greatest Explorer of Modern Times, in the Richest and Wildest Country upon the Face of the Earth, Among Savage Beasts, Deadly Reptiles, Poisonous Insects, Etc., Etc., Covering a Period of Nearly Twenty-Eight Years, and Including a Full and Graphic Account of the Herald-Stanley Expedition, and What it Experienced and Accomplished, Etc., Etc., Etc.”
Next to the Herald-Stanley expedition, our travels will be relatively tame. We will unlikely document any unknown species or battle deadly reptiles. On the other hand, we'll also travel without any imperialist intentions through game reserves that offer shining examples of conservation. We're excited for our own "important discoveries and thrilling adventures," and hopefully our readers will enjoy this "complete reliable and graphic history." Regardless, I think Megan is already channeling a little Livingstone: