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One mum and her daughter: model Rachel Ritfeld

MUMMY'S GIRL: Rachel Ritfeld and daughter Rosalia

SIX YEARS ago, after the birth of my daughter, I made it my mission and goal to live a life filled with travel and adventure with her.

Deep down, though, this is also due to my inability to sit down and do the simple things, such as drawing at the dining room table. Patience has never been a talent of mine...

However, I prefer to focus on my strengths, rather than my weaknesses. They are largely centred around the saying: “The world is my oyster!”

From the moment I saw Rosalia’s eyes, the world instantly became 'our' oyster. No mountain was too high, no river too far and no flight was too long. In the past 10 years, I have been to 37 countries and many of them I have visited more than once.

I’m so grateful to say that 18 of those countries I have had the joy of sharing with my daughter, Rosalia. She has been to every continent and has swum in every ocean. We have climbed mountains together and we have visited schools in every less-developed country we have been to and brought supplies, made donations and given shoes to those we met who had none.

So, although I regret that my personality is flawed by my inability to patiently teach my daughter phonics and year two maths, I hope I make up for it in other ways. At eight months old, she was strapped to me as we trekked on a mountain in Jamaica. I woke her up at midnight when she was 13 months old to walk the shores of the beach in Suriname with me, while we patiently waited for sea turtles to arrive and nest; we also assisted hatchlings to make a safe run for the ocean in their quest to survive nature’s challenges. We witnessed the first pod of false killer whales in the bay of California in more than 15 years. We've also been bird-watching (her favourite thing) in a canoe on the river between Gambia and Senegal.

I must admit that although I love to talk about these magical adventures we go on, it does not come without its challenges. For one, the cost of travel during school holidays is sky-high and to add insult to injury, there are no package deals that are considerate of single parents travelling with their one child.

I do, however, have some tricks up my sleeve that have saved me money over the years. I look forward to sharing those with you in future articles (I know, that was mean, right? Next time, I promise).

Another challenge, to me the most stressful one, comes with being divorced and no longer sharing the same surname as my daughter. These days, this is not an uncommon circumstance, but there have been instances where visa procedures and immigration become a lot more complicated, which can be disheartening.

Still - flip-flops on, backpack strapped on and passports in pocket, we expand our minds, our levels of empathy and our appetite for adventure.


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