Well, I have been back for a week now and it has been nice, bizarre, hectic and stressful preparing for college and readjusting to life in the U.S.
On the flight back from Amsterdam to Minneapolis I found myself sobbing, weeping for many reasons. Everything that I had seen, both beautiful and sad made me never to want to leave Africa. It is hard to quantify how wonderful this experience was because it affected me on so many different levels. My first day back I was looking at the streets and buildings and it seemed to me like I was in some kind of strange Utopia. I know that all areas of the United States aren't beautiful or perfect, but I just couldn't believe that there is an entire nation of people living with such immense luxury. I used to consider myself middle class but i realized that our standards of "lower class", "middle class" and "upper class" are completely different than the rest of the world's. my room seemed huge and ridiculous.
On the trip, while sitting in the many hours of travel in our van I would look out the window at communities, villages and the vast green African landscape. When I saw something that was interesting or that you just wouldn't see in the U.S. I would write it in the last page of my journal.
Here it is- some of these sights were part of my everyday reality, others one time wonders:
-Huts made out of sticks, mud and tin. Not larger than my body height
-Boys playing soccer at school, one of them naked- I have no idea why
-a little boy in the rain selling ground nuts, a large tray of them perfectly balanced on his head
-a lady running up to our van on a side-of-the-road bathroom stop and marvelling at my "long nose"
-Men making cement blocks in outdoor workshops with no shirts on and all of them were ridiculously buff
-an entire alley flooded like a river
-guys always peeing on the sides of buildings and roads
-guys hold their crotches like no one's business and no one cares
-guys hanging on and hanging out of moving cars in Lagos because the small vehicles are stuffed to their capacity
-guys playing football (soccer) on a dirt field underneath the overpass of a freeway
-Public service announcement billboards: Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds
- waving out the window at a little girl and seeing her face light up and wave back
-a little boy getting a bath in a bucket, wave excitedly at us
-when you drive past a town, people are always outside. i can have a glimpse of how people live because they are outside all the time- cooking, carrying, playing, working, selling and just hanging out
-mothers are able to work with their children. all the mothers that sell food on their heads do it with their kids with them the whole day. the babies on their backs will sleep or just observe the world silently
-kids rolling tires and running beside them down hills and streets
-a lot of coffin makers- coffins are made out of wood so the soul isn't restricted by something unnatural.
-kids breaking rocks with hammers as a job- age 10 and 7- i made eye contact with a child and i saw the saddest eyes
-topless middle aged women (only 2) in rural villages
-2 toddlers (one girl, one boy) and a young boy doing races on the street of a city at 6:30am before the city has come to life.
-the same kids- the older boy drumming with 2 pieces of plastic on all the surfaces of the deserted street and the little girl and boy dancing to it.
-beautiful wise trees with their roots exposed from erosion
-tons of businesses/cabs with religious names- Fear God, Jesus is Savior, God's Time is Best Enterprises etc.
-kids pumping water at wells
-young boys playing table tennis on the ground because they don't have a table
-girls holding hands, men holding hands, just hanging out- totally not taboo here or considered to be homosexual at all
-women sweeping their front porches with their branch brooms
-tall trees with their entire trunks covered in green vines like a fur coat
-women and everyone in villages cooking in cauldrons over fires
-teams of men cutting grass with machetes
-kids playing football in alleyways
Everyday on the trip I wrote in my journal. Because I wasn't able to go on the internet that much, I am going to post some of my journal entries with pictures.