I am about to embark on another trip to Uganda. This time I will be staying in the capital city, Kampala, for four days, a place I usually avoid like the plague, because it's crowded and confusing, and full of taxi drivers who want to rip me off because I'm white. I will be taking a boy named Gerald (see last post) to the hospital, another place I usually avoid like the plague, because they smell scary and I don't understand what they're talking about. And that's in the US. I, an introvert, will be staying in a dorm room with two twelve-year-old boys and a girl who is herself afraid of me.
As I settled into my nice bed last night, I said to my husband Andy, "why do I do this stuff?"
I said, "maybe this will be my last time."
He said, "ha."
Then I said, "sometimes when I am there, I miss home so much, I feel really sad."
He said, "well, you don't have to start yet." Good point.
When I was in college, I thought study abroad sounded cool, but I knew I'd never have the guts to do it. And I didn't, much to my parents' relief. But they didn't reckon on my meeting Andy, who took me on a backpackers's trip around Thailand and Malaysia on our honeymoon, and then a few years later, an all-Asia trip, on our way to our jobs in Indonesia. Later, a summer doing disaster work in the Virgin Islands, with three kids. A year in Korea, with four kids. A trip to Guatemala to show our oldest two how it's done. A work camp in Haiti. Then six months in Scotland, two in Nicaragua, just to name a few places we've been. And of course, Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
We always travel on the cheap, not just because we are... well, cheap, but also because we think it's a lot more fun (our youngest daughter disagrees with this strongly). We like riding around on the backs of motorcycles (three to a bike), eating local foods, and waking up to the sound of roosters crowing. You meet a lot of nice people on a chicken bus. But all these things bring potential for more danger than staying home, or traveling in style (which is not even an option for us). Bugs, snakes, accidents, discomfort, sickness, crime, insomnia (from those roosters).
So now I am packing my bags again, and I scream when a little spider crawls down the side of a suitcase. I wonder if I should bring a bike helmet ("What? And wear it all around?" says Andy). I know I'll get lost and argue with taxi drivers and get the absolute worst seat or have to stand on the chicken bus because I can't push for the best one. I'll have no idea how to change money and I I will get really obsessive about tucking in the mosquito net. Yeah, I'm not that brave. But I'm going. And I know I will be glad I did.