The Space Between: Fourteen Hours At Heathrow

One of my homes in Nova Scotia which I am reluctantly leaving behind for a few more months

Fourteen hours at Heathrow airport.  Waste of time?  Perhaps.  But this trip isn’t about site-seeing, so here I am sitting in the airport, freezing my butt off, napping on benches and trying to make up for four lost hours.  Besides, London is grey and foggy and I’ve seen it already.

St. John’s, Newfoundland. So beautiful when the weather cooperates!

This trip was about home, and now I’ve taken off from the Atlantic Provinces.  On my way back to Tanzania, on the cheap, meaning layovers at Heathrow and Nairobi.  It’ll be a four-day haul before I unlock my hopefully-intact apartment in Kamachumu and assess the situation of my home away from home.

Kamachumu now has 1000% the mzungus (white people) than when I left five weeks ago.  Twenty volunteers under my organisation’s care.  Did I prepare everyone?  Was my plan realistic?  Did anyone even understand it?  How are the two Program Supervisors making out in my little community?  Especially with the colleague I left in charge having presumably left, based on a cryptic email from another volunteer.

Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda for Thursday night?  Not settled.  Place to crash Friday night in Bukoba?  Haven’t heard back.  But despite the uncertainties, here I am on the road again and it is strangely comforting.  One foot in front of the other, no matter how daunting it seems from afar, is actually pretty simple when you’re taking the step.

For anyone who has done the transition from home to Africa and back again, you know it’s a strange creature.  But for all of us, I think, it develops a pattern.  For me, crash time – culture shock; the end of the honeymoon period – happens at around the three month mark.  But what happens when you go home for a month then return to your East African village?  This is a new thing altogether for me.  I have no idea how it’ll play out.

Baby animals were only one of the highlights of my trip home

Coming down from one of the best months of my life, which was kind of like a premonition of my “real” life (wait, what is that again?), being launched back into development work, trying to make it all meaningful for me and for the people I’m working with, is going to make for a very interesting time.

More blogs to follow, I promise!

Sunsets over the Bay of Fundy make my heart melt

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The Stars That Connect Us

NS blueberries

My childhood friend Lila started all this Africa business.  I didn’t know I cared about addressing poverty until I started receiving her group emails from Botswana.  This weekend, I’m going to stay at Lila’s mother Barbara’s place in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, while I take a motorcycle course, preparing me to travel by pikipiki (motorbike) in rural Tanzania.

Yesterday, on my way to a party in honour of my departure, I stopped at Value Village to look for a leather jacket, key to my new life as a biker. I was trying on a sweet jacket, admiring myself in the mirror, when a fellow shopper told me it fit well.  Her comment encouraged me to buy that particular jacket ($13.99!!), and it’s currently under the bus in my bag.

As I sit on the bus to Antigonish, looking out over the still-muted fall foliage of my favourite place on earth, eating a delicious blueberry muffin baked by my best friend with locally-sourced ingredients, listening to Mumford & Sons in headphones borrowed from my sister, I feel acutely thankful to be this connected and supported.  That feeling is the reason I chose to accept the position in Tanzania.  On August 12th, only a little over a month ago, I was struggling with the decision.  A chance meeting with a wise friend (Yael) at a bike shop in Montreal quickly had us hashing the issue out over coffee.  Before parting, we lingered, tracing the connections that had led us to become acquainted.  I set out on my purple bicycle, Farmers’ Dairy milk crate on the back, only to stop two blocks later to answer my phone.  It was Christian, An Important  in the connections that Yael and I had just been chatting about.  Not one to call often, his reaching out was a happy opportunity for more input on my dilemma.

I don’t need to tell you the outcome of that day’s decision-making process.

At my going-away party last night, I got another reminder of how connected we all are.  Some old friends from school came by, including Joey who had brought his wife Sarah.  I was excited to finally meet her, but it turns out I already had.  She was the girl in Value Village.