Three days before I left for Africa I decided to take a census of my ‘pre-departure self.’ Now three and a half months later, exactly three days until I leave Africa, it’s time again to take a census. Weirdly enough, this will be my last post from Africa. Stay tuned though - once I get home I’ll be taking advantage of speedy American internet and posting all my missing Tanzania photos.
What did I enjoy most?
Nope, not answering that question - that would be impossible. However, here’s a list of a few things I really appreciated about my time here.
1. The people. They’re so full of laughter and ready to share a conversation or even just a smile. They’re also incredibly humble and strong.
2. Of course the animals. Some of my favorites: elephants, zebra, wildebeest, giraffes, and dik-diks. (Diki-diki!)
3. Cold sodas from a glass bottle. When it’s the only cold thing you can consume, it becomes addicting.
4. Life without cellphones. This was on my list in the beginning, and it’s still true. The disconnect from phones and the sheer busy-town (anyone remember that show?) lifestyle of home was not at all missed. Seriously, sitting down with a friend or two and never being interrupted by phones will never be over-rated in my book.
5. Tropical fruit. I’ve been eating about 3-5 bananas a day here.
What am I most looking forward to at home?
1. Not having a 10 or 11 hour time difference with home.
2. DAIRY PRODUCTS.
3. Regular sized beds.
4. Being able to walk around barefoot.
5. Having showers that don’t sporadically turn off on me when I have shampoo in my hair.
What am I taking with me?
1. The friendship of 25 of the most driven and passionate individuals I’ve ever met.
2. A roughly 16-inch tall giraffe carving. Packing is going to be very interesting.
4. About 100GB of Africa photos. No worries, there is a much, much smaller slideshow of photos for everyone to see.
5. My first 4.0 ever in college. Grades come out in two days, so I’m knocking on wood right now.
6. A 33-page research paper. Actually, in not too long, my advisor will be submitting a portion of this paper for publishing with me as a contributing author.
7. Freckles, lots of freckles.
What am I not taking with me?
1. The flies. Oh dear lord, I can’t wait to be free of the flies. I think the first time I see a fly in the US I might get a wave of PTSD.
2. Several clothing items. Somewhere in Maasailand a man is now wearing my old Pit (all women freshman dorm section) t-shirt. He really liked that it was the color red. And yes, of course it is a men’s t-shirt (at least that’s what I told him when I traded with him).
3. East African dust. Okay, who am I kidding, it will probably sneak in my baggage.
4. About ten to fifteen-ish pounds. Somewhere along the way I lost those, and I’m more than okay with leaving them here.
What are the best pieces of advice I’ve received?
Instead of answering this question, I’m just going to share a quote that a friend shared with me after a group meditation not too long ago.
"We need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon, our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice. To be sure there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so will they fall away. In the end you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much better a person that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge you have gained." -Kent Nerbum