So begin my tales from Africa. I will be pulling entries from my journal I kept while I was there, so hopefully I can bring you, as a reader, as fully into the experience as I possibly can.
Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Four days ago I was sitting at my college graduation in Dallas, and now, I am on an airplane. Granted there has been a flight in-between, I moved out of my house, back to Florida, and packed away my life into a giant backpack, but sitting here on this plane, it’s like I’ve just blinked.
“How will you take your coffee? Chemicals? Milk? Sugar?” the flight attendant shouts at the elderly and nearly deaf woman in the seat in front of me.
I’m staring at the flat blue expanse of ocean as it blends seamlessly to the sky at the horizon. I’ve attempted to channel my inner Dr. Mayor by incorporating a little pink into my life. My sparkly, obnoxiously colored, Barbie pink nails make me feel brave. If Mireya Mayor can do it, I can too. I’ve tried to take a leaf out of Dr. Galdikas’s book too, and only packed the bare minimum into my big blue backpack. I just hope I remembered everything… In all honesty, I probably didn’t, but theres nothing I can do now, and that is a freeing feeling. The months leading up to my graduation and my last days in Dallas I’ve felt like I’ve been scrambling to get a hold on life, like no matter what I did, nothing was ever enough.
“Are you scared?”
“Are you nervous?”
Those are the two questions I’ve been asked constantly over the past few weeks.
That’s a lie. I’m terrified. But I couldn’t let on, for my parents sake. They were scared enough for the three of us.
So one wrongly booked flight and a few panicked moments spent deep breathing in a corner, and I’m off. Me and my sparkley, obnoxiously colored, Barbie pink nail polish and neon yellow and blue hiking boot are off. Off to Africa, to adventure.
I’ve finally found the time to start John Oates’ “Myth and Reality in the Rainforest.” Every word builds the excitement.
I must speculate on his idea that as a child, or young adult, he fell in love with the myth of the rainforest. The myth being that rare and exciting creatures were popping out from behind every tree creating a magical, mythical place, and that the reality is much more disappointing. The rainforest is a magical place, with or without a plethora of exotic creatures. The myth and the reality are what you make it. I am not going with the hope of solving a world problem in a month, or sighting a long forgotten creature. I’m going to see something, anything, new, and to be so entirely absorbed by it I can hardly breathe.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
— Anthony Bourdain