UPDATE: I’ve safely arrived in Johannesburg! The flight went surprisingly fast for me, but not for the four babies strategically placed in front, behind and beside me. I’ve been up for well over 20 hours at this point, but feel pretty good all things considering. I do think I need some sleep though: I started tearing up while watching Tarzan on the plane. I don’t know. Momma gorilla just got me. It was embarrassing in front of the stewardess. Sad movies we should never show our children aside (no wonder the babies kept crying) I feel very blessed and incredibly happy to be back in South Africa almost exactly one year after my first visit. Unbelievable.
In a few hours, I fly to Africa. I’ve gotten several confused questions about where on earth I’m going for 18 days, probably because I’ve been in a study coma trying to get everything done in order to leave. The few times I have emerged from my bedroom to reload on tea and chocolate, I have been unrecognizable to the outside world in an oversized hoodie, knee socks, and a wide-eyed, haunted expression. It hasn’t been pretty. But I really am done and going to Africa now.
This all came about rather suddenly a few weeks ago. Let me recreate the scene for you….
A child tugs on my sleeve as I stand on the pool deck. “Miss Martha, why is he changing on the pool deck during practice? I saw PARTS.”
I absent-mindedly look up to confirm that, yes, there is, in fact, a young buck changing on the deck in the middle of practice, and my mouth formulates the response, “I don’t know, dear. I’m sorry you had to see that.” My mind drifts away to distant lands and the travels I was planning at this point last year. Shortly afterward, an unexpected call from a favorite professor interrupts my day-dreaming to ask me if I am interested in accompanying her on a trip to Africa. Even favorite professors sometimes ask silly questions.
I will be attending a journalism conference in South Africa (Highway Africa 2012), teaching a journalism course while in Zambia, and maybe even spending a few days on a game drive in Mfuwe. To say I am excited is a severe understatement–sort of like when I said, “this is scaring me” while I was watching Psycho.
After receiving final confirmation that I’d really be going, I was doing the travel dance (a happy combination of making airplane wings, stamping imaginary passport books, snapping fake pictures and rolling luggage), when I jolted to a stop. AFRICA. SHOTS. Then I smugly remembered that I got that hellish business done last summer. Ha! Take that Yellow Fever! In case you want to read about the traumatic experience of getting vaccinations for my trips to Ghana and South Africa last year, click here.
Now that we have gotten rid of all of the people who secretly wanted to see me suffer through five massive needles loaded with small doses of diseases that could kill me thrust into my arm, we can continue.
My next travel dance interrupter was the realization that I will be teaching classes on newspaper design taught on some new Mac computers that will arrive at my destination before I do. For 5 hours a day. If you know me at all, you can see why this is a roadblock. My battle with technology is rivaled only by the personal vendetta Macs seem to have against me. My first experience with a Mac occurred in college when I sat down on my first day as an editor at the school paper and asked my boss why the mouse had no buttons. I should have called the mouse a rat right then and there. It was a long haul.
Macs don’t have shortcuts. But we all pretend like they do. “Oh, you want to do that? Don’t click it. Just hit Apple+backslash+Z+shift.” The resulting finger aerobics are just a way Apple figured out to make your fingers burn calories. This is one of the many reasons I feel entitled to have chocolate after using a Mac.
I totally understand not quickly grasping things like clicking and dragging. Why? Because someone had to be really patient with me (Ok, so it took more like an entire newspaper staff).
I really hit it off with girls I have met from Zambia. We talked journalism,travel, school, babies, clothes, food and men. I think we covered the basics. They tried their first American pizza, and I tried my first Nyanja word. They were more successful than I was.
The last interrupter to my travel dance was the idea of being in the air for 18 hours to get to my destination, then over 19 to get home. I’m not super good on planes. That’s part of the reason I did all of the traveling last year by ship. There is just this idea that I can’t get out of my head that I have a better shot at swimming away from a sinking ship than crashing from 20,000 feet into the water, then swimming away. Add this to the fact that Delta recently made headlines when flights to Amsterdam reported needles (!) in several passengers’ sandwiches (as if airline food couldn’t get any worse), and that our flights were originally scheduled on Delta through Amsterdam. I think we already covered the fact that I am afraid of needles. Needles, flying over the Atlantic, AND airline food? Sign me up for another 19 hours, please!
I know very little about Zambia except that I think its shape looks like a lion typing on a typewriter and it boasts Victoria Falls and a history with David Livingstone. Oh, and that it entered the 1964 Olympics as Northern Rhodesia and exited as Zambia. I have never been to the regions of South Africa we will be seeing…so you can expect lots of random information as I learn. Get ready…
I’ve got 12 hours of classes to keep up with at U.K. while I’m gone, or I won’t graduate in December; I don’t know how many students I will have in Zambia, what they will be expecting, or how their English will be; one of my classes at home has 15 required books to read, and I’m going to dislocate an elbow if I do any more writing tonight, but I don’t care. Tomorrow I’ll be back in Africa!