After a long journey home that started friday night in Entebbe airport, I made it home last night. Robby and I were greeted by our families at 4:30 AM Ugandan time. But we powered through and I even fit in a family dinner before crashing! Its been a little weird since I got home, honestly. I'm just lost in my thoughts and figuring out what to do next. I didn't think that far into my trip, as in what to do when I got home. Even though I feel more as though I left home. I'm so content knowing I do have a home in Africa now and cannot wait to return. I miss my babies, the night time prayers and singing and dancing with the kids, even the chores. I miss chipati and mama j and all the other volunteers. I don't miss the rice. I'm going on a rice hiatus for a couple months. But really, I just want to go back.
I'm hoping to keep in touch with some of the orphanage/school workers I exchanged emails with to see how everything continues at Ibonde. I've been in some sort of post-culture shock now that I'm home. I forgot how fast everything is here. I was telling a friend that I hope I don't get stuck back in my old habits of moving so fast and focusing on the things that really aren't as important as I thought. I'll consciously work at it.
Besides my sadness of missing Africa, I am so happy with the experience I have gained. I know so much more about the world over there, about their culture, and about myself. The main thing I want to build into my life here is the importance of others and the relationships you create with them. In Africa, they don't say "hello". They ask "how are you?" and have a 20 minute conversation on the subject. Many times, I would hear locals greet each other with "how is your goat?" and I loved that. There is a connection that is meant to be created and sustained with every person you interact with.
It's so different here. Even getting into Dulles airport, I was still in the mindset of waving at children, and as soon as I stepped off the plane, most of them stopped waving back. It's like people forget the importance of connection and instead restrain themselves. In Africa, everyone taught me how to let go. Let go of how I looked, how clean I was, and instead focus on each moment with every person I met. It was so redeeming of a possession that doesn't actually exist. Its just a feeling of content and peace. I really miss it.
In addition, I would love to share with you what I call my playing with fire list. This is a list of all the things you wouldn't think are a good idea, especially being in a foreign country, but I took part any way. And now that I am home and safe, I will tell you --
1. hitch hiking - Sometimes the other volunteers and I would be stuck walking the street, looking for a boda, and having no luck. So we would hitch hike into strangers cars to get a ride into town. One time, it was a bishop! It was just so easy to put my trust in people because they just wanted to help you and show you a good time in their country. I never had a problem with the uncommon task of asking strangers for rides.
2. boda bodas - many accidents occur on the tiny motor bikes that get you from place to place. It is the number 1 cause of death in Uganda, believe it or not. Personally, many of my mzungu friends would push the limitations of the small space alloted on a boda. My one friend landed 10 feet away from his boda after falling off one night in the dark. However, he did try to fit 5 people on a 2 person bike. I admire his adventurous idea, though.
3. ebola - sadly, there is an ebola virus outbreak making its way through Uganda that is slowly infecting villages near Fort Portal. If you don't know ebola, it is a very contagious virus that causes you to bleed internally until you die. I think the survival rate is about 20%. Plus, it takes up to 21 days to even get symptoms. I tried my best not to freak out about it and will be closely following the details on the news. I learned that by following the media in other countries, especially the US, about this outbreak, it comes with heavily misconstrued ideas of what is happening and they try to make it out to be more than it is. Leave it to America to exaggerate the truth. Hopefully, Uganda can continue to quarantine infected areas (which are creeping closer and closer to Fort Portal) before it infects and kills more people.
4. geenuts from the street! - the Ugandan peanuts, or geenuts, are so yummy. Mamma J would make her specialty geenut sauce from these nuts, which are a pink/purple shelled nut. On a drive out of Fort Portal, we bought some from the kids selling them on the street. We devoured them and were so happy until I suffered from a 24 hours tummy ache. I thought it was the end of me. But the geenut wanna-be peanuts couldn't take me down. I'll just never do that again.
Overall, I can't deny that I have changed. I left a part of me in Africa and I hope to go back and visit that part again in the future. Until then, I keep smiling to myself with all the memories floating around in my head. I'm going to do my best to keep them with me for as long as possible. So thank you for following my adventure! Now I'm gonna go take 5 hot showers.