|A long lost Safari picture with some great friends|
I'm writing this on the second of leg of my three part journey home, a 17 hour flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Washington D.C. My total flight time is over 24 hours, a whirlwind of plane changes, long security lines, and total exhaustion.
Though I am desperately tired, I can't sleep on the plane. To make matters worse, the in-flight touchscreen at my seat isn't working (NOOOOOOOOOO!!!). While everyone around me entertains themselves with movies and games, I'm staring at a frozen screen. And I just finished my only book. Though I know the screen isn't working, I still keep pressing at it angrily, hoping that it will somehow magically repair itself. I wish I had a screwdriver and a multimeter so I could take the damn thing apart and fix it, anything to keep my mind occupied. Yeah, I'm going crazy. Only 16 more hours to go....
But if Tanzania has taught me anything, it's to brush off little mishaps such as these. I find myself surprised when everything goes exactly as planned, pleased at my good fortune. Ideal situations are a novelty, something I no longer come to expect or take for granted.
On the bright side, my technology troubles forced me to begin work on this blog post, something I was dreading doing because I have so much to say but still haven't figured out how to say it. The reality that I am no longer in Africa, a place that I have called my home for two months, has yet to sink in. I can't quite comprehend the fact that I just said goodbye to 22 people who have been my family here, and the harsh truth that I will probably never see many of them ever again. Saying goodbye was anticlimactic, it didn't feel like "goodbye forever," more like "goodbye, see you next week."
For the past month, as the end of my journey grew closer and closer, I found myself longing for home, being ever more critical of Africa and all it's inconveniences. But something strange happened in the last few days. Suddenly, the thought of leaving made me really sad. Though I was excited to return home, I was already starting to really miss Tanzania and felt nostalgic towards things that used to annoy me greatly. On our last dala dala ride, a task I usually dreaded, I felt sad that this would be the last time I would be crammed into this tiny mini bus, filled to the brim with women wrapped in colorful fabrics, holding baskets of potatoes, men wearing ridiculous second-hand outfits and beanies despite the hot weather, goats, chickens, and conductors hanging precariously out the open doors and the bus sped down the busy street. I already missed hearing locals speaking Swahili, so fast it seemed to roll off their tongues. Even the noisy roosters, the mystery meat stew, and the overly friendly drunk who lived on our street didn't seem to bother me as much, for these were all funny experiences that I had come to cherish.
|Proud of our newly installed fan in the women's|
Jonas had been hinting that he really wanted a riveting tool, something we knew the hospital could not afford, despite it costing only about $10. So on our last day, armed with the last of our funding from EWH, we set out to town to find Jonas a riveter, along with 15 extra fluorescent tube lights and ballasts for the hospital. We had already replaced several of them, which kept blowing out because of the frequent power surges. We also bought a wall clock for the office at Ithna Asheri hospital, who reported timeliness a problem with the staff (how can you be on time if there are no clocks?). When we brought our loot back to Jonas's shipping container office, he was absolutely thrilled. "Ahaa!! Asante sana rafiki yangu!"
|In front of St. Elizabeth hospital, with Miguel and some random lady on |
the street who wanted to be in the picture.
|Wiring the fans into the wall outlets|
|Jonas replaces yet another light bulb|
Last weekend, we went on an amazing 7 hour day hike to a waterfall, starting from the Sanawari bus stop. We hiked through the forested hills just outside of Arusha, with quaint villages, lots of farm fields, and beautiful views. We had a cute little troop of kids that followed us the entire way, that started being less cute once they began harassing us for money.
|Our group, stopping for a pumzika|
|Lauren finds a chameleon|
On Wednesday after work, Oriane, Zodina, and I went to stay the night with Lauren and Raelyn. We cooked an amazing Mexican meal (which is hard to do here) complete with Oriane's homemade applesauce. We also visited the orphanage next door to their house. The orphanage was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences I had in Tanzania. Imagine over 30 kids of all ages, from tiny babies to 9-year-olds, all running around, screaming and unsupervised, starved for attention and affection. The moment they saw you walk in the door, they would attack you, begging you to play with them, to hold them, to love them. It was clear that they weren't getting the attention every child needs, and I was yet another inconsistency in their lives. Another person to come in, play with them for an hour and then leave, never to be seen again. It was more than I could handle emotionally.
On Thursday, we piled way too many people into one cab (as is tradition) and went to Via Via nightclub, one last time....
On Friday, Mama threw us one of her famous parties, a sort of going-away/ happy birthday to Charlotte and Zodina thing. There must have been some communication breakdown, because there were chairs set up outside and tons of food for about 50 people.... there was maybe 20, including the 9 of us. The other people she invited we had never met before. I think we were supposed to invite our friends, but we had no idea. It was thoroughly awkward. But with some drinks in our system and dancing, we were able to spice it up a bit.
Saturday was EWH end of summer conference, where each of the groups gave a presentation about their experiences at the hospital. The director of EWH, a group from Texas A&M, the Zanzibar Minister of Health, and a handful of other important people all came to watch. It was amazing to see all the incredible work we did in just a month. We all agreed that the experience had been life-changing. I know many of us, including myself, are planning on coming back to Tanzania someday. I still need to climb Kilimanjaro...
Because I have no clean clothes, I am wearing this ridiculous t-shirt on the plane given to us by Mama with animals and Kiswahili phrases on it. I look like such a dork.
My laptop battery is dying, so I guess this is my stopping point. I'm hoping to make one more blog post after this, I still have quite a few things to say about the hospital and the reverse-culture shock that will inevitably hit me when I make it home. For now, I want to thank everyone for all the wonderful support and encouragement I have received throughout my adventure. All your comments and emails and kind words are deeply appreciated. It feels great to talk about something so close to my heart and know that people are listening. Thank you.
Now for a random collection of pictures.
|Dinner time at Mama Macarine's house.... notice the chicken foot Oriane |
found in our stew :)
|Another old pic from the Safari. Our unexpected after dinner show.|
|Around Arusha Town|
|Getting stuff done at Ithna Asheri Hospital|
|View of Ngorogoro Crater|
|The Torch! Lit from the top of Kilimanjaro, it is carried ceremoniously around the entire |
country for a year, as a symbol of peace. Lucky us, it came to our hospital.
|Losika Guest House, where we ate lunch almost every day at work.|
|Typical lunch at Losika, for a grand total of about $2/person|
|View from the front door of Mama Macarine's house|
|Our first party experience at Mama Mac's, Marco's going away party|
|Our family at Mama Macarine's. And enough stuffed animals for everyone.|
|Spotted a simba in the grass|
|Visit to a lake near Tengeru|
|View from the top of a new hotel. The road we walk to |
get to St. Elizabeth every day, in the process of being