In 2010 I decided to go to Africa. Just like that…typical. I can be fairly impulsive – I am a jump first, think later kind of person, committing myself to something that Future Me will have to deal with when the time comes.
A young woman from our church, was leading a group of people to the place that had captured her heart and soul – Kenya. She had been a few times before to work in an orphanage, and was organizing a group to go to a town just outside of Nairobi to help out and gain some perspective. I immediately jumped in. I came home and told my husband “I think I’d like to go to Africa in September”, gave him a few details and he said “Sounds like a great trip – have fun, we’ll manage here.” Seriously. He is THE MOST supportive guy ever.
The trip was more than I could have ever dreamed it would be – it was physically and mentally draining, and it was incredibly rewarding – and we had SO MUCH FUN.
I bring this up because my son, who is 20, will be traveling to Africa in a few weeks, with an amazing organization, to dig wells, or build walls – not sure which, and as we are making the final preparations for his trip, my mind goes back to my trip. I can smell the African air – the way the garbage is constantly burning in the slums and carries over the entire town, and the damp smell of the rainforest, and the animal smells on safari. I can feel the dry grass crackling under my feet, and I can hear the noise (lots of noise) of the markets, or of the monkeys in the trees, and the sweet, sweet sound of the children singing.
I remember the taste of the chapati and the garlic french fries that we ordered from our hotel restaurant almost daily, because it was the safest (and most familiar) thing to choose. I also remember the taste of the cold Tusker beer that was so welcomed after a long hot day, and the birthday cake we gladly enjoyed, after singing and dancing around the table in celebration of one of the local women – a woman who was working to finish university to become a doctor. Our gift to her was her first ever brand new pair of shoes to wear on graduation day.
I have many incredible memories from that trip, including using THE WORST public restroom I hope to ever, ever see (or not see – that is another story for another time)…and sitting around a campfire sharing stories and songs with a Masaii family (spoiler alert: Oh Canada does not inspire that Masaii jumping dance that they are famous for).
I will share them periodically, but for now, I am beyond thrilled and oh, so very proud, that my son will get to have similar experiences and provide support in a community that could use some help. xoxo