My Month Away From America
About a year ago, my mom asked me if I’d go to Ireland with her and some relatives. Part of me was like, “Why Ireland?” I was definitely proved wrong. Most of the others going were older, and she claimed she’d need someone to stay out late in the pubs with her. (Little did I know, those “older” relatives were going to drink me under the table night after night.) Mom said she’d pay for the ticket and the lodging if I just paid for myself while we were there. Duh. Of course I was in. Then a few months later, I started pondering going back to Africa a second time. Just for shits and giggles, I looked up flights from Ireland to Zambia- they were waayyyy cheaper than the ones from America. So with a couple weeks to think on it, I just went ahead and did it. My first half of June would be spent in Ireland, and my second half in Zambia.
Bumps in the Road
It ain’t all rainbows and unicorns… (actually, none of it was unicorns. I did see a couple rainbows, though. ) Anyway, here are 8 of the many troubles I encountered:
- I was accidentally put on the no-fly list and almost got stranded in London. I think my mascara stained cheeks and hysterical pleading saved me on that one.
- I woke up after a night in the pubs and was missing $200. This occurred because I’m an idiot and took that much out of an atm, and then carried it around in my hand all night. We went back to the pubs the next day (well, my mom and aunt did because I was too hungover) and someone had turned it in. Mom gave them $50 for returning it. What nice, honest people the Irish are. What an irresponsible, lucky gal I am.
- When we arrived in Ireland, my luggage was missing. That was a buzzkill. I got it back a couple days later. I don’t even remember what I wore before I got it back…
- One day in Africa, I was standing on a corner waiting for my friends to pick me up. After like 20 minutes, a nice Zambian woman told me I needed to move because I looked like a prostitute. That was nice of her.
- A friend scared me on a boat safari and I damn near jumped into the crocodile infested water. (@lexie if you’re reading this, you suck.)
- One day, in a little restaurant in Ireland, it started pouring. A young girl had recently opened the restaurant, and she was so excited about it. Well, the rain started getting into the restaurant, flooding the place. Before even asking, my uncles/cousins went into the kitchen to get big pans to start scooping the water into buckets. Our lunch turned into a 3 hour affair. Quality people, those midwesterners.
- I got so excited when I saw the giraffes on the safari that I started crying and covered my eyes.
- I spent over an hour wandering around the suburbs of Dublin looking for my airbnb. I was dragging all my luggage and singing “every little thing, is gunna be alright” to myself to keep from crying.
Point is- traveling is scary, messy, and crazy fun. Do it anyway. Do it as much as you can.
I wrote this on my way home-
“Home stretch. I am on flight 8 of 10 for this month. I find myself feeling tired of customs lines, annoyed with tedious security procedures, and it has become seemingly impossible to make small talk with yet another stranger. My body, my mind, and my heart are worn. My list of complaints could go on- lost luggage, accidentally put on the no-fly list, being stuck in the window seat when I really have to pee. Instead, however, I am choosing to be grateful. While there were bumps, confusion, and goodbyes along the way, I must remember how lucky I am to have gotten on that very first plane.
In the past four weeks, I have stepped foot in six countries, used five different currencies, and met the most incredible people. I got to see sheep littering Ireland’s greenland alongside the most beautiful sea. My relatives became my friends around pint after pint of Guinness in dark, Irish pubs. I slept in one of the nicest places I’ve ever slept, and I slept in one of the crappiest beds I’ve ever laid on. The traditional dance of the Zambian children was one of the most beautiful gifts of humanity I’ve witnessed. An unlucky, mentally-challenged African child broke my heart. Her gentle kindness crushed me further. The 216 children who are now being fed and educated were a blinding reminder for me to be more grateful, more humble. This journey has been one I didn’t know I needed. It makes me uncomfortable to tell people that I went to Africa to volunteer, for they always react in praise. What they don’t understand, is that these journeys are in no way selfless. This world, and it’s people, are a gift. Selfishly, I want to experience as much of this extraordinary gift as I can in my short lifetime. I cannot find a word for this world. Perhaps there isn’t one. You just have to feel it.”
I hope something in this ridiculously long post encourages someone to just go for it.
Take a deep breath and buy the plane ticket. See the world, meet it’s people.
Interested in how I got involved for the first Africa trip? It was so easy! Click Here and I’ll break it down for ya. 🙂