After living almost 8,000 miles from home for the past three months, I am posed with the perplexing task of writing a final impression and it’s so hard to even find a place to begin. So, why not start with things that have become normal for us, but when you look a little closer, they may be humorously quirky and not so normal…
Consistently driving through herds of cows or troops of baboons, for instance. Maybe it’s having babies and baby animals constantly thrown into your arms. For some it’s a friendly slug that sleeps on the bathroom wall that only pokes his eyes out when you shower; for or others it may be smearing cow dung on the walls of houses during a homestay. For me it’s the coincidence that every time I wait to do laundry until I’ve exhausted all my clean underwear, that my clothes always, always get a second washing from the rain—but I don’t mind too much because, to be honest, the rain probably does a better job. Also, I will always remember our amazement when we discovered that East Africa has peanut butter.
We have had incredible times here together. We saw the elephants of Amboseli with a backdrop of Kilimanjaro; we got feet away from a male lion in Lake Nakuru; and we drove through thousands and thousands of wildebeest in the Great Migration. My favorite, though, was watching a pride of lions bathe in the sunlight of dusk on top of a rock kopjie in Serengeti, and racing back to camp through golden grasses, confused skies, and a full rainbow. Its going to be impossible to explain the perfection of these moments to people back home because, while we can tell them about the things we saw, we will never be able to explain the faultless pleasantness of being there.
Of course there are things I will miss—I often wake up to birdsong in the morning instead of an alarm; I’ve never had a teacher before that excitedly brings a bag of dung samples to class to teach about animal tracking; and none of my friends back home sing “Happy Birthday” in Japanese. We have explored Kenya and Tanzania together and have allowed the people, the culture, and everything we’ve learned about the wildlife to change how we see things. To finish I have a simple quote, “All I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.” -Ernest Hemingway