It's a late Tuesday night for me, as I'm trying to make some preparations for my holiday (leaving for Toronto a week from tomorrow, and then hop on a plane on the 4th of July bound for Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania, and then ultimately, the two islands of Zanzibar). So I'm trying to get my packing list completed, and have started getting things organized and crossed off the list.
As for the major trip though, I haven't been to East Africa since I left at the tail end of 1996, and something tells me that things have changed quite drastically since I left. The face of the world is a bit different, and being an American in this world certainly has new meaning abroad. I've been jokingly toying with the idea of plopping a Canadian Flag patch on my bag, though I don't think that's going to actually happen.
Last night I went down to me mum's place to hang out with her, as she's leaving in a couple of days which means we aren't going to see each other for about 6 weeks. I know it's only a 4 week vacation, but it seems like such an extended period (and such a short spell, at the same time) to be gone from family and friends. Add to that, my wonderful little niece Maya is growing and changing every day, and I feel like I'm going to be missing years of her youth by disappearing for the month of July.
In any case, I'm so excited to arrive in Dar. My last stay in East Africa was filled with some of the best times in my life coupled with a some of the worst. I fell ill quite often, I'm sure partially due to how poorly I took care of myself and my health at that point in my life. Malaria didn't help matters out much, lack of language skills, and a good deal of xenophobia basically meant that I was an exposed fish out of water completely uncomfortable in his own skin. This time, with any luck, it's going to be a different trip.
Last time, at twenty-one years of age, I was running from myself; right now I feel like I'm running towards myself. Honestly, I'm more concerned about coming back, as reacclimation into American culture was so much harder than the culture shock upon arrival in East Africa. Who knows whether it will be the same thing this time...I'm not concerned about it, actually, just trying to stay in the moment. There are so many things flying around my head, and I'm having to take pauses all day long right now to stay calm, and to keep things in their proper perspective.