Tomorrow I start the two day trek home and while I am extremely anxious to get home, I do feel a tiny bit sentimental about leaving the continent.  As I sat at an outdoor café in Maputo this morning, I actually teared up, which came as a surprise to me as I have felt kinda numb the past few weeks.

No doubt, I will miss Africa.  The simplicity of life, the dependence on community and family and the vibrant culture.  I have gained such admiration and compassion for Africans.  No matter where I visited, the destructive, unfair, colonial history that these people were forced to face has so obviously shaped them.  They have overcome so much and continue to face challenging conditions.  They are strong people.

There is a freedom and peace here that is much harder to find at home.  At home, there is something wrong with you if you aren’t in pursuit of more – further education, a better career, financial wealth.  In Africa, I have found that it is acceptable to just ‘be’.  Living and getting by with what you have is the norm.  People are able to relax and enjoy their free time without the pressure to always be ‘doing’.  I will miss this.

Physically, I will miss the sun and the dependability of it.  In my entire time here, there have been less than 5 days that the sun didn’t shine!  And who doesn’t feel better when the sun is shining?

What am I taking back with me?  I definitely know that I have grown in many ways due to this experience.  Very little surprises me anymore.  I have found patience and understanding that I didn’t know I had.    I have learned to live more simply and am better in touch with what I ‘need’ versus what I ‘want’.

It would be impossible to live in rural Namibia and not find a deeper appreciation for life in Canada.  I have taken so many things for granted.  Growing up, with the support of my parents, I honestly did have the chance to pursue any future goals that I had.  Until this year, I thought that was universal.

On a smaller scale, things I am grateful for but overlooked before:

sidewalks

seatbelts

toilet paper

pedicures

bagels

customer service

fresh produce in supermarkets

our lakes and rivers – free of crocodiles, hippos and parasites

pedestrians having the right of way

Things I will NOT miss:

public urination

public nose picking

being asked for money

crotch sweat

shebeen (bar) music all night

hitch-hiking

sand

fear of mosquitoes

mosquito nets

being stared at

I suspect that the question people will ask me now is “what next?”.  And while I have no idea what lies ahead, which I am strangely comfortable with, I do know this: I know what makes me happy, I know that I can get through just about anything and I know that I am loved.  Knowing that, I’m not too worried about the future.   Right now, I’m just so excited to get home, spend Christmas with my family and SQUEEZE my gorgeous nephew!

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