“…leaving home means a loss of innocence, encountering uncertainty: the wider world has typically been regarded as haunted, a place of darkness.”
I love this, an excerpt written for a NYTimes piece by Paul Theroux. A great article. I’ve read some of his works, and immensely enjoyed “Dark Star Safari” after my first trip to Africa. Aside from an underlying arrogance in his writing, that sort of makes me want to punch him, I do actually quite like his writing and count him as one of my favorite travel authors.
Somewhere Over Africa-Red Earth
It’s a question I’ve been asked a fair number of times. It’s also I question I find difficult to answer. In searching to articulate what drives me to volunteer, specifically, abroad I find a multitude of reasons. But I struggle to explain, fundamentally, why. I went to Africa for the first time for mostly selfish reasons. I would be lying if I said otherwise. Yes, I wanted to help, and to contribute in some capacity to those who were in need, but really I wanted to help myself. Specifically, find myself. I had grown up with a clear directive. Medical School. When I began to question my motivations and desire to be a physician my world was for the first time, completely uncertain. My goal, was to live abroad, to remove myself from the familiar, which often acts as a shelter-from ourselves, as well as the world. I wanted to get to know myself. This is what I thought anyway…
It’s been over a year since my return to the US. I don’t believe a day went by during this time I didn’t think of traveling again. Perhaps I’ve romanticized Africa, but I can truly say it was one of the greatest times in my life. Im ecstatic to see what this next adventure will bring. It is markedly different of course. I’m going to Lima, Peru. A modern city. I am also not traveling alone. I can only imagine how polar this experience will be, and I’m glad, it’s new, somewhere I have yet to see. And I get to share this experience with someone I love. We leave in two days, and I absolutely cannot wait.
Already, I’ve noticed dramatic differences since last year. To be honest, I haven’t put much thought into it. I didn’t start packing until a few days ago. In terms of prepping I’ve mostly been researching the culinary scene in Lima. It is after all, a food capital, and I am clearly, in love with the industry.
I doubt this will reach anyone, as it has been quite a while since I’ve been back. But I suppose this is more for myself anyway. I thought that by six months back I would feel completely re-immersed into Western culture. To my delight, this isn’t the case. I feared losing all that I learned, and felt, in Tanzania. On the contrary, my desire to be back has increased. I’m comfortable living in the US. I recognize the importance of getting my education here, and of course, all of my loved ones are here. BUT, I miss it, so much. It’s hard to explain, and I barely understand myself how a few months abroad could have such a monumental impact on my life. Three months. I’ve been back six, and very little has happened. But in those three months, my world was re-created. I still have this recurring dream of driving along the road from Moshi to Arusha in a dala-dala. I can remember it so vividly, the smell of the land, the warmth of the sunset, the wind. It almost brings me to tears. But I’m not sad, this memory is of one of the few times in my life I’ve felt entirely at peace. It’s a great source of happiness.