Albert Lawundeh, TSE photographer

Thursday, February 25, 2010


We depart for Africa in less than one week.  It's been hard to think of a blog entry - there are so many things on my mind that I could write about, but most of them are more fit for my private journal than for a public blog.  My emotional state is a roller coaster - I wake up at 3 am literally in a sweat over all that I hope to accomplish and just the responsibility of leading a team for the first time - but there are also moments when I reflect on what it will feel like to step off of that bus and put my feet back on African soil - and to put my arms around those kids again. 

Travel to Bo is hard.  When they perfect "beaming" (a la Star Trek), I'll be Bo-bound much more often.  The truth is, I don't love to travel.  I hate flying, and I'm really just a big homebody.  Travel is a hassle -the laundry, the packing, the hauling of heavy luggage, jet lag, sleeping in strange beds, eating strange food, meeting new people, the work, the return home, and then more laundry and jet lag.  Travel to Bo is like a whole level of travel difficulty beyond what Westerners are used to.  It's roughly 5-6 hours to Heathrow, then another 7 hours to Lungi Airport.  Then the two hour ferry ride from Lungi to Freetown followed by the four hour bus ride to Bo.  When it's all said and done, it takes two days to get from VA to Bo.  Two days of sitting upright in uncomfortable airline seats and bus seats (broken up by one night in the airport hotel), fighting jetlag and trying to sleep.  Surrounded by nothing at all familiar.

At this stage of the pre-trip journey, I always, always feel such anxiety and stress.  Even on trip three, it just doesn't feel routine.  There's so much to prepare, so much to think about, so many lists to check and doublecheck.  Whenever we travel anywhere domestically, my husband always says "stop worrying about forgetting something, we can always get whatever it is when we get there; it's not like we're going to a third world country or something."  Except, this time - I am.  Even knowing that I've traveled there before, very successfully - doesn't seem to alleviate the stress.

What's nice, is that I know from experience that once we set foot on that plane - and eventually in Sierra Leonean soil, some of that stress will evaporate.  At a certain point, the plan gets set in motion, and the momentum carries you forward.  And I also know that the minute I can get one of those kids in a hug I will remember down to my soul how very, very worth it this trip is.  Counting the days....

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