Although very different experiences than what I experienced in Africa...these run ins with stories of places/problems/crazy culture shock moments bring back shadows of memories...I don't know if I wanted to forget, but I find it slightly difficult to remember.
Throughout all of the traveling my husband and I did over the past couple of years, one thing we agreed on returning home was respecting the memories we had of our time in places with dignity. We were careful in what pictures we took of people not to intrude on someone's personal space or disrespect them or hurt their feelings inapropriately in photos...this photo is one of just a few that we took of people at all.
|A market in Zambia|
I didn't do much writing during our time in Africa, mainly due to losing our power cord for our laptop shortly after leaving South Africa (the first leg of our journey) and even though the days were filled with long bus rides and lots of waiting, the feeling of wanting to jot down what was running through my mind at the time just wasn't there....thoughts were there, just so numerous and so fast, it was like watching them fly by as I stared out the window at a world that seemed like a dream.
Being in Africa is a beautiful, spiritual, life changing experience and some of the people and places and foods we were privileged to meet, explore and try there changed our lives. I think about random things from Africa often at odd moments, but in slightly embarrassing ways for myself that I tend not to share out loud.
When I give away clothes, I wonder if they will find there way to Africa....it wasn't unusual to see a Packers or Vikings t-shirt worn by someone on a street corner or being sold at a market.
When I look into my pantry at all the different options of flour I seem to be collecting, I remember the aisle upon aisle of the different brands and sizes of finely ground corn meal sold for pap/nsima/nshima/ugali....and nothing else....and feel a bit gluttonous with my stash of powders.
When I buy a tomato or an avacado at the grocery store and remember the texture, smell and flavor of a freshly purchased tomato from a local African market...ripe, delicious...real!
These moments trigger a certain feeling I can't quite describe, a longing for the beauty we felt and saw in our travels through South Eastern Africa and at the same time an embarrassing gratitude that I'm home again in a place where things make sense to me....where I blend in....where I feel normal and full and warm and clean with running tap water and an automatic ice maker....and that at the same time....that feels horrible. It feels unjust to judge another culture as "not as good as mine" simply because their priorities are not my own, that I don't understand it and try to make sense of it...it's not mine to make sense of....but then again...most people in Africa will never get to experience my life in the States, whereas I have the luxury of a U.S. passport.
I'll never know what it feels like to be African. I'll never know how it feels to grow up in a small village surrounded by family and neighbors and love....this is something we also weren't welcomed into as tourists...as an outsider, you remain outside! It's rare to hear stories from this perspective and I wish there were more available....culture shock can be so blinding.