Saturday, February 18, 2012

Uncharted (well, sorta...)


Here I sit at the Source Café in Jinjatown. I’ve got what I’ve appropriately deemed the best treat in Africa to my right, the iced latte, as well as fizzy water (the addiction lives on). The $10 African phone sits to my left, replacing the iPhone that I was certain I would die without.

A bus just pulled up outside and let 50 Americans off to come use the restroom and get coffee. I’m annoyed. I don’t know why… they are just so… touristy. They don’t know this place – I’m almost offended by their voyeurism. But then, they’re nice. They’re just like me, happy to see someone they can relate with. They stop and ask me what I’m drinking, they say hello… kinda nice, actually.

Sara Bareilles serenades me “…my burden to bear is a love I can’t carry anymore.”

I’m happy. Here. Now.

As is standard, a million questions plague my mind. Where have I been? What have I done? Where am I going? What will I do? Who will be there with me? How will I make money? And then, almost as quickly as they’ve entered my mind, they’re gone again. They don’t linger, they don’t press on me. There is no fear. Instead, wonder swirls around me like fairy dust. I’m so excited.

I can say a few things for sure. I love Jinja. I love Kyabirwa Village and the school and the teachers. I love the children and their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters. I love the family I live with. I could not be more grateful for the experiences, the lessons they’ve taught me. Mostly, I could not be more grateful for how much and how well they love me. I can’t imagine leaving them. But then, I can’t imagine not leaving them.

One of the 4 million gifts I’ve been granted by some higher power with this journey is the ability to truly follow my gut. My gut says, “Go, see what else is out there.” So I will. I’ve only been here for a little over two weeks. I will leave my new little family in two weeks with a very heavy heart. I’m telling myself I’ll be back someday. Ohhhh, I hope I am. These people, this place have taught me so much.

So you want to know where I’m going?

Next weekend (assuming the nasty little cut on my knee has healed) I will raft The Nile (which I’ve been staring at for the last two weeks). I’ll teach my last week of school and then head up to Sipi Falls – a series of waterfalls at the base of Mt Elgon. Side note: Mt Elgon is on the border of Uganda and Kenya – from the summit you can be in Uganda and Kenya at the same time! Yes, I want to climb it but was told the Ugandan side isn’t safe – both because of gorillas and guerillas (UGH!).

From Sipi Falls I will travel through south Uganda to Rwanda (MY DREAM!!!!!!!). I will visit Kigali for as long as I feel like being there, then head by ground transportation (still haven’t really figured this out yet…) to Arusha. I plan on spending anywhere from three days to three weeks in Arusha (seeing more of the city and visiting friends I made there) before heading to Nairobi.

I will spend as little time as possible in Nairobi before hopping on a plane bound for Delhi, India. YES – INDIA!!! I’ve been doing research, but still feel totally unsure of what I will encounter once I’m there. I plan on doing the traditional tourist “golden triangle” of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra – maybe more depending on who I meet and what they’re doing. I want to head north to Rishikesh – the yoga capital of the world near the Himalayas (maybe a yoga retreat is in order???). 

I am guessing I will be in India for two to three weeks, unless I find a school to volunteer in – or a reason to stay longer. After India, I will head to Nepal. I will NOT be climbing Everest Base Camp, seeing as I’ve sent all my climbing gear home. I WILL be doing whatever trekking I can do with running clothes and a pair of trail runners. I have heard only the most amazing things about Nepal. I would like to be there for my 34th birthday, but won’t rush to get there.

I will stay in Nepal as long as I feel like being there. I would LOVE to find a place to volunteer for a while. From there, I’ll fly to Thailand. I have very little idea of what I’ll do or how long I’ll actually be there. I plan on spending time in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam and would really like to find a place to live/volunteer (similar to what I’m doing here, in Kyabirwa) to try to dig my heels into the ground and get to know locals again in any of the three countries. (I’m doing research on this now…)

The goal is to take ground transport through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, then to fly from Vietnam to BALI (where, if I get MY WAY, I will meet Virginia and we will finally open our coffee shop!!!). By this time it will probably be mid-summer (I’m totally guessing…).

The obvious next stop? Australia. (MY AUSSIES!!! If you read this before I send the email… I’m planning on visiting you – dead of winter. Brilliant, I know. I’ll try to push it back if I can…) I have no idea where I’ll go in Australia, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have at least two stops to make (two or three weeks?) before I head to the mecca:

New Zealand.

I have no idea what to expect of it (especially since, again – it will be winter…), but I know that I want to spend some time there – both as a tourist and a local, if I can. Every person I know who’s visited New Zealand has told me that I will never want to leave. As the time gets closer, I’ll know more details about what I will do there.

From NZ, I plan on flying home (unless I still have money left, in which case I’ll go touch South America… J J J)

So… this puts me home sometime before 2013! I continue to try to be true to this journey in trying not to set expectations either on the places that I see, the people that I meet, my timeline, or myself. The points are plotted… Here we go!!!

To be clear – Africa has not let me down. I am not leaving because I don’t want to stay; I’m leaving because the draw to see more of the world is stronger than the draw to stay. 


  1. Amazing. Love it. Go to all those places. Australia in the "dead of winter" won't be that bad, really. New Zealand is one of my faves, man, I am jealous of you and your traveling at the moment!
    Much love from the USA,

  2. Sounds so amazing!!! I wish I could afford to hop on a plane and meet you mid journey for a week or so!! My new boss is from new zealand... so let me know if you need some info from a native!