Friday, January 09, 2009

Snapshots from a journey to Africa

*click* The day before I left, I went for coffee with a friend before church and bawled my way through the service. Emotions (and lack of sleep) were partly to blame, but I really love my church, and this would be the last time I was there for a very long time. Not to mention that everything – EVERYTHING – about the service seemed relevant to where I was at and what I was about to do. I love how God knows jus what we need when we need it…

*click* After church, I did some last minute errands with two very good friends, and then out for lunch. Suddenly it was time to say goodbye to Trudy, one of my very best friends. Standing in the slush in front of a burrito place on Broadway wasn’t exactly how I pictured saying goodbye, but there we were. Lots of hugs, lots of tears, lots of things left unsaid, but nevertheless understood between two good friends…

*click* Back at my house Sunday afternoon saw a whole lot of mad packing (though my bags for Africa were more or less done) and cleaning up. A friend came to help me clean, and did a whole lot of my dirty work for me. What a blessing it was to have some help and some good company in those last few crazy hours…

*click* My entire family arrived to pick me up and take me to the airport at 4:30am. My bags were packed, but that was all that was ready. I was flying around in a panic and had only slept about 3 hours - the night before! I was cleaning out my car, taking out the garbage, and looking at the piles of “what the heck do I do with this stuff” stuff that I still had to pack. It SO wasn’t going to get done. So while we waited for my iPod to finish loading, my sis finished off my dishes, my brother tried to stay awake while he and my dad loaded my suitcases, and my mom helped with little jobs, too. It was about a half hour of panic and flustered running around and craziness, and a house I had to leave to my wonderful, helpful, understanding, and terribly gracious parents to finish packing and cleaning. But finally, all five of us and my massively heavy suitcases were in the truck and on the way to the airport…

*click* Saying goodbye at the airport was hard. My whole fam was there, which was awesome, given the insane hour. We got my crazy overweight bags checked in (they didn’t even weight them! Wahoo!) and headed to the security line. As soon as we hit the winding ribboned-off part of the line, it was time to say goodbye. Hugs and tears and more hugs, and my fam moved off to the side as I entered the lineup. Of course, it winds back and forth, so I went forth… but then back again towards my waiting family. More hugs over the ribbon, more goodbyes, and forth I went again… and then back. More hugs, less tears, and forth once more. And, yes, you guessed it, back. Some waves, laughs (cause really, this was getting kind of silly!) and one more hug for the mama. Forth I went again, and then through the frosted doors. I poked my head out one more time to wave goodbye, but they had already turned to walk away. Through the people, I caught a glimpse of my mom putting her arm around my sister as they walked away, and it was all I could do to hold back the tears…

*click* Airports. Meal service. In-flight movies (appropriate ones – NOT ones to scare the pants off me on the way to Africa!). Hours and hours of half-sleep. Sore knees and creaky joints. Sunrise. Flying over the Alps and the Sahara Desert. Nearly two hours getting through the line to buy a Visa in Nairobi. Noise and fast pace, and crowds and lines, changing watches and new sights and smells and sounds. Finally, late Thursday night (technically early Friday morning) I had collected my bags and met the driver from Mayfield Guest House, along with five others who were on my flight. The night air in my face through the open window, the new smells, the experience of a Nairobi highway, and then, at Mayfield, quiet. I was grateful for my bed, and as I drew the mosquito net down around my bed, I quickly fell asleep.

My African adventure had begun…

8 comments:

Kaz said...

Ah, Hillary... how nice is it to curl up and sleep in AFRICA!? Oh, I am so excited for you. Miss you!!! Can't wait to hear more!

sarah cool said...

oh, i'm so glad you shared this!! I've been wondering what it has been like. love you!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

You arrived safely! Wonderful! I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures. It sounds like you're off to a splendid start.

Jean said...

Thanks so much for sharing your beginning experiences!! I'm sure Canada (wink wink) is missing you! :)

jenn said...

oh wow - i'm glad you made it through that whirlwind to a quiet bed!

anne said...

My question is, did you have to bribe the customs guy to let you into the country!?

Love hearing your story. I teared up reading it myself!

Anonymous said...

Hi Hil,

Glad you've made it. We're reading and learning and loving your trip right along with you....we'll talk soon. Are the 'moose'quitos as big there as they were in Mackenzie? Love Auntie Connie.

nachtwache said...

You must have been veeeeeeeery tired to fall asleep so quick, in a exciting new place, new bed, mosquito net!