Well, those of you who read this often probably have noticed a good deal of distraction on my part, over the last many weeks. I have a goal of 28 posts a month, and I missed a good handful in a row, though I made up some of them after the fact. Some months I don’t miss any days. Sometimes I even have multiple posts in one day.
So what could be distracting me so much? A sort of miracle has happened. I am going to be traveling with my dear friend Altu to three countries in Africa. We leave in less than two weeks. I’ll be gone five weeks.
Altu was born and raised in Ethiopia, although she has been here in the US a long time and has been a US citizen longer than I have known her. Her parents and a sister still live in Ethiopia (I have met them all when they have visited here). We are going back “home” to visit her family for about three weeks. We will also visit a friend of hers who lives in Nairobi, Kenya. And last, we will visit Egypt for a week as tourists… we will be staying in Cairo but expect to do a day-trip to Alexandria, which is about a two-hour drive from what we have been told by our Egyptian friends in Lansing.
I love the world, I hunger to know more of it. And for the most part, I have chosen a life that has not allowed me to pursue that hunger. Well, this time a miracle has happened, and my friend and I will be leaving for places I can not even imagine in my mind. Very soon.
Brian will stay home, as will Altu’s family. She has kids who need to stay in school. (Her restaurant will be in the competent hands of her Brother-in-Law, Charles.) Brian was a competent bachelor until we married in our mid-to-late 30’s. He will be fine. Oh, yes, we’ll miss each other, but we’ll do fine separated for a while. We have traveled separately before.
This is the longest trip I have ever taken. I’ve never been gone from home more than 10 days in a row. I have never needed a passport, either. I have been to Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas, as well as Canada… none of which has required a passport. Most of those trips were because of a job I once held, where the boss would take us on great weekend trips if we made sales goals she set. (I loved that benefit, let me tell you!)
Most of my independent travel has been within driving distance of my home. I put 250,000 miles on my last car and I’m up to nearly 90,000 on the current one. Most of those trips I made alone, and I would not have had it any other way. But for international travel it will be wonderful to be with a comrade and most of the time stay with her friends and family. I think I will get a better sense of life there, by doing it this way. (Altu’s husband suggests that I will need to learn how to slow down when I am there. I hope I can learn that, I think I am ready for the lesson.)
I realize that saying “I’m going to Africa” doesn’t have real meaning to me at this time. I don’t even know what that really means. I think it may take me some time after I return to process all I have taken in. While I am there, I will no doubt be living in the moment.
I’m taking my camera but not a computer. I understand that there are cyber-cafes in all the big cities we will visit, and we will do our best to post photos and commentary when we can. But I have no idea how regularly that will happen.
I’ve been distracted with doctor’s appointments, passport photos, all sorts of things that must be done before a trip of this sort. I’ve had a series of immunizations and I’m not done with those yet.
And for those who must tell me to be careful, I really do hear you. All travel is a risk, and perhaps more risk than being in familiar territory. However, something could happen to me in my own home and staying home is not a guarantee of safety.
In the end, we are all mortal and fragile. We must embrace the love of life and the world, and do what we can do to feel alive while we are here. Since I’ve lost loved ones very young, I think I have an urgency to experience things even more intensely than others. Every day is a gift, and I am aware of that as I live my life.
I have traveled alone by car to New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, Montreal, Minneapolis, and other cities whose names escape me right now. Most people would not do that, yet I would do it again in a heartbeat. At no time did any harm come to me in any of those trips. (More trouble has happened to me in my own “safe” hometown than anywhere on the road.) This time, my trip is by airplane and I will not be alone.
OK, back to the unbelievable list of tasks I must complete before my trip. Yes, it is a high-class problem to be this kind of busy! I’m not complaining, I assure you.