The Daily Briefing

My sisters were adamant. They know that when I’m traveling I prefer to go off-line. I don’t write emails, I don’t turn on the television set in hotel rooms, and I only respond to messages if they can’t wait.

Uwe sent occasional photos via What’s App to a small group of our friends, but I told my sisters I wanted to remain off-radar.

They insisted. If Uwe and I wanted to drive by ourselves around Namibia and Botswana, they wanted to know where we were staying and where we’d head next. “You can always reach me by cell phone,” I told them. But they wished to follow our trip on the map, and visualize where we were at any given time.

The request actually made a lot of sense to me the more I thought about it. The longer the trip lasted (we were gone for 5 weeks) the smarter it seemed. Uwe and I had talked excitedly about the trip as we planned it, but no one had a comprehensive list of lodge addresses and phone numbers where we could be reached if anyone needed to get in touch with us.

If for some weird reason we disappeared totally, nobody other than a travel agent knew where to find us….

Each evening I’d send a quick message to let Pam and Barb know we’d arrived safe and sound at our destination. Or, in the morning before driving off, I’d text them the name of the next national park and lodge we’d be heading to.

It turned into a rather glorious game. “Hey! Where’s our zebra of the day?” they’d text.

one of Uwe’s great photographs

I did my best to oblige. Uwe’s by far the superior photographer but I snapped shots of the animals crossing the roads and included a daily photo in my daily briefing.

Ghanzi, Botswana horses
cattle everywhere
another roadside attraction: Botswana elephants

I tried to give them an idea of what I was seeing each day. I took photos of the metal artwork, the room we stayed in, the sunset view at dinner.




Maybe once a week we chatted in a three-way phone call. Barb was in Oaxaca, Pam was in Hong Kong, I was in Africa. My sister listened to me crow about our adventures. They told me in no uncertain terms to get medical attention the morning I reported that an insect I could only identify as a black Botswana battery-acid blister beetle had released noxious fluids on my neck. [1]

I journal diligently on trips to record as accurately as possible what we are seeing in each new place, but there was something rapturous about making quick emotional reports. My two sisters were the friends to receive a running commentary of first impressions.

Only Barb and Pam heard from me about the trip as it was happening. There’s no one I’d rather have had as virtual companions. xoxoxoxoxo

I want to end with a postscript that it’s a good idea before heading out on a big adventure to leave the particulars with someone you trust. Sisters, you are now forever on the need-to-know basis!

NOTES: [1] Go to my posts about the black Botswana battery-acid blister beetle for that story. ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Some photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. For more of Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was long listed for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.


2 thoughts on “The Daily Briefing”

  1. It’s smart to stay in touch.
    I drove around the US for six months, car camping my way all over the place. Since my sister and I both have iPhones, we shared the find me app so we could always find the other. I went totally off the radar a few times, and I would tell my sister where I was heading and when I expected to be back with phone contact. She would like her to make sure I actually showed up.
    At 77, I figured it was a really good idea to have someone follow me.

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