There isn’t anything quite like that southern twang that reminds you that you have arrived in North America. In fact, I was in culture shock just getting on the plane to Atlanta from Johannesburg. “Hey there sweetheart, welcome to Delta, just take a left down the aisle to find your seat”, a blonde, botoxed, All-American looking stewardess told me. When I did find my seat, I found myself sitting next to an elderly couple totally engrossed in a digital black jack game available on the individual passenger tv screens. Needless to say, they spent the entire 17 hour flight hoping between black jack, solitaire, sleeping, and (in the wife’s case) reading a trashy romance novel. I on the other hand, spent my hours locked up in my mind- having a mental freak-out about the fact that I had just left behind a life in Zambia. Symptoms included a knot in my stomach, serious bladder contractions (will they ever leave me alone?), minimal sleep, and desperately trying to numb my brain by watching Finding Nemo (which, for the first time in my life, failed to cheer me up) and The Young Victoria (note to self, historical romance films are not a good idea to watch after saying goodbye to your own “partner in crime” for 8 whole months).
Evidently, I did in fact make it to Atlanta, and then to Toronto. My last moments in Zambia were spent at the Lusaka International Airport, sitting at the airport’s excuse for a bar with Tom, one of his brothers and their tiny nephew. At tiny nephew’s insistence I pulled out my laptop and cranked a Kanye West song while he danced around the bar cheerfully. Meanwhile, I drank my final Mosi and watched Tom play pool. I am proud to announce that my luggage arrived safe and sound. I was terrified that my bags wouldn’t even make it this far! When I was leaving Lusaka, I was told that my bags were seriously overweight (this is what happens when you decide to purchase a lot of gifts and your friend’s mom insists on having traditional Zambian clothes made for your entire family). I had just stated a tearful goodbye to Tom, one of his brothers and his tiny nephew who had escorted me to the airport and I was -to be frank- a total mess. “Miss, you’ll have to pay the airline
185 USD if you want to check that bag”. “What?”, I asked, totally shocked. The ticket agent in turn, got very cross with me and lectured me about how she didn’t make the rules and that I shouldn’t be so rude, and this is the procedure for passengers crossing that Atlantic. This only made me angrier “I wasn’t mad at you!” I huffed, “I am just so shocked”. Luckily, another ticket agent noticed the scene and called me over. After some discussion, he lowered his voice and stated “Ok, it’s just you and me now. I’ll check these bags and see that they get to Toronto, but you’ll have to make me an offer.” So yes, I bribed the airways ticket agent (price not to be disclosed) to keep his mouth shut about the bags-being-overweight issue. While I admit that I have spent hours in university lectures being taught about how corruption is crippling poor countries, I felt a bit justified by saving well over 100 USD.
By the time I landed in Toronto, I felt a bit like a freak with my braided hair, sandal tan and grubby clothing (this is what happens when hand washing results in
a lot of holes). The first thing that hit me when I stepped out of the airport was how orderly everything was. Everything is so…clean! And the roads are all paved, and people actually obey traffic laws. This seemed truly incredible to me.
All in all, coming home was been a great opportunity to relax. Its incredibly how stressful being sick in a country with nearly no health system can be. I’ve been back about 11 days now, and it feels like Zambia never happened- except for when I speak to Tom on the phone. People generally ask me how it was (nd someone even asked me “What’s the word on the street in Africa, man?”…what does that even mean?!), anticipating some kind of one liner, so I generally state “It was great, crazy and hard all at once”. This usually leads to a funny look. To be honest, I keep hearing about how I am supposed to be going through culture shock right now, but if anything, I think I’m in denial. I am just not ready to think about this stuff intensely yet. I am a bit scared to do this at the moment, but maybe when
I feel ready, I’ll begin reflecting. A fellow IDS-er told me the other day that recovering from placement is an important part of the journey, so this blog isn’t over yet! In the meantime, here are some pics to check out- thanks to quality internet!
- Some details podrobnosti
- Chamonix Mont Blanc Center Orientation
- Family Guide
- Family Tour Guide
- Location: Portland, Maine Hottest Restaurants
- Map: Portland, Maine's hottest restaurants
- Map: (several) Boston Best Beah Bahs
- Card: Four Great Places to Stay in Montauk
- Map: (some) of St. Louis' Best toasted ravioli
- Map: (some of) St. Louis Best 'toasted ravioli
Submited at Saturday, May 8th, 2010 at 5:00 pm on Africa by ethan
Comment RSS 2.0 - leave a comment - trackback