Returning from two weeks in Africa is disorienting. First there’s the jet lag one can get from 24 hours of travel and 30-something hours of no consistent sleep. After keeping myself busy for several hours after my flight arrived this morning, I’ve managed to stay awake, but after taking a too-long nap before an appropriate bedtime is when the jet lag truly sets in. The kind where your body aches and staring at the ceiling seems like the only possible activity. It’s a miracle I’m even writing this post right now. It’ll be even more of a miracle if it’s comprehensible.
But also there’s that sense of having to return back to routine. I shuffle around the house in my post-trip haze halfway between vacation mode and feeling a sense of obligation to return to my regular routine. But after two weeks away – especially in a place as non-routine as Africa – it’s really hard to find that desire to enter reality. In a sense, I’m still with Cory as he spends this week in the bush at his old site. We’re pretty independent and enjoy our alone time, but after spending 24/7 with each other the last two weeks, Cory’s lack of presence is acute and foreign. No one but myself to keep myself awake for the next few hours before it’s acceptable for me to go to bed and get a real night’s sleep.
Then there’s the return to “reality” or what we seem to think it is in the US. I was away from internet most of the time aside from a couple of requisite email checks to make sure my flights hadn’t changed drastically and to alert family that we’re safe. Otherwise, totally offline. The moment I turned on my smartphone, the over stimulation commenced. Too many emails to catch up on, too many Facebook messages, and the inundation of news at my finger tips. I enjoyed only seeing the occasional news stories on the Al Jazeera or CNN station at the hotel in Mombasa (where I heard more about what was going on in Egypt than in the US) rather than having a constant stream of information at my fingertips. But, even more so, I’m quickly reminded of the reality of the injustices within a country supposedly so forward and developed. It saddens me that the first news story I come upon is the acquittal of George Zimmerman. In the post-Africa haze, though, my brain cannot thoroughly process or reflect upon the frustration and anger I feel around the lack of justice and the implications this has around race. It’s moments like this where I’d rather the over stimulation come from the hustle and bustle of a busy African city than my facebook newsfeed.
So for now, in this haze, as my brain and body adjusts to the timezone, the culture and my routine, I will remain in that limbo and think of the peaceful evenings we had under the stars in the outskirts of Lilongwe where despite being near the city, the stars were clearer than they ever could be in Maryland.
And because I have several posts I plan/hope to write about this trip, I’ll at least whet your appetites with a few photos from the trip. Note: Some of the photos were taken by me and some by Cory.