The journey has begun. John, Amy, Gary, Maria, my father, and myself have officially left our lives in toronto and are headed to Mama Africa. We will be meeting the rest of our team mates later - some in Amsterdam and some at our final destination, Kigali. Everyone got through the airport safely and without hassle. Well... For the most part. Turned out that Maria had left her yellow fever immunization proof at home so she ended up having to go back to her house to pick it up. We've never been asked for immunization records, but if by the off chance that we are asked, we must present the appropriate documentation. If we don't have our records, we can actually be refused entry into Rwanda.
We've got 5 hours and 33minutes until we touch ground in Amsterdam. I can't really say how I feel about going back to Africa. I am happy, of course... But I couldn't tell you why. Maybe it's because I can get on an aircraft and wake up in an entire other world. Maybe it's the friends I've made during past visits. Is it the scenery? Is it the satisfaction I get when I see the smiling faces of the basket-weaving women, the children and my DWC teammates? I really couldn't tell you. I just know in my heart that it's where I am most happy. Ever since 2007, I have been drawn to Africa. Like a really strong, unseen magnet and I can only tell you that I am pulled to Africa like north and south poles. That's it. I don't know why - it just is. Maybe one day I will be able to tell you exactly what I love above Africa. In fact, I'll make it a little project. Every day/night spent in Africa, I will enter 3 things I love about Africa in this log thing. I will also make it my mission (because I have never completed one of these Africa logs) to log every time I get the chance - at least once a day. I will share what I've learned, what inspired me, what scared me, made me laugh and/or what I've done.
I guess I can give you my TTAA (three things about Africa) for the day... Even though I'm not in Africa yet. I owe you something seeing as you've suffered my lengthy rant. So, without further ado, here are my TTAA!
Número UNO: I think one of my favorite things about Africa is African time. If you're in Africa and you've got a meeting scheduled for 1pm, you can bet your bottom dollar that it'll end up happening later. Say, 2pm or 3pm. I love that. Time is like a flexible guideline - a REALLY flexible guideline. I love that Africa forces us to become like leaves in a busy river - you've got no other choice but to go with the flow. Some people who come with us on trips like this can't handle that flexibility. We're so used to having structure in our lives where we have a schedule for every day of the week, that when that organization suddenly disappears,we have no idea what to do with ourselves. I love that it makes us relax and let go of the stiffness we're so used to.
Número DOS: I am in love with the busyness of the capital cities (those that I've been to). I love the sounds of irritated car drivers, the traffic jams, the conversing voices, the motorcycles that narrowly fit between the spaces of the grid lock, the people walking up to passing cars trying to sell call cards - I love it all. There's just so much to see and hear... And smell. Oh, the smell! This brings me to my THIRD thing : the smell of African cities. The combination of burning garbage and red dirt - it's a really unique scent. It's what I look forward to as soon as I leave those airport doors. I don't know what it is about the smell. It hits you like a sucker punch to the nose, but I find it rather soothing. It makes me feel alive. It's a pretty funky stink.... In a good way.
It has just occurred to me that whoever is reading my entries may not know who I am. My name is Mali Foster - the daughter of Nick Foster (our fearless leader). I just finished first year university at McGill. I'm double majoring in International Development Studies and African Studies, and minoring in psychology. This is my 7th or 8th time traveling to Africa. I have been to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
I hope that the other authors introduce themselves too so you can get the full picture. We're all very interesting people... Or so we'd like to think. (hehe) But please, do follow us on this journey. I can guarantee you that it's going to be one heck of a trip. And, lucky you, you'll be able to see through the eyes of our different team members. I love that we're all different but we're all coming together to make a difference in the world! Ah... It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
P.S. we're in Amsterdam now
Rwanda, July 2012