We’re finally returning home after three and a half months abroad in Africa. I’m writing this as we’re having a layover in Ethiopia – waiting to leave for Italy, then Washington, then finally Toronto, Canada. Yes, it’s quite an extensive flights – 6 airplanes from Cape Town, which is where I arrived from yesterday.
To update on my last day in Cape Town, we went to Muizenberg to embark on our first surfing experience. We arrived via train at about 11pm after stopping by Greenmarket Square to look for curios and souvenirs. The beach was beautiful and definitely a beach for surfers as probably half of the people in the water carried a surfboard. We spent the first two hours or so laying on the beach to fix our horrible t-shirt tan lines. Then, we finally went to the surf school to sign up for some lessons. It was R200 per person (less than $30) for an hour and a half of lessons, surfboard, and wetsuit rentals. We thought it was a pretty good deal - as our instructor was amazing. It took probably thirty minute before we learned how to get up from stomachs to standing on the board on top of a wave. It was ridiculously fun though! All of us thoroughly enjoyed it – and it would be something we’d do again. Afterwards, we ate at a nearby restaurant – went back to our lodge – and then went out for dinner at Theo’s (the best steakhouse in town).
We left Cape Town early the next day – leaving the hostel at 4:30am – and flying out at 6:15am. After flying and stopping at Johannesburg (and receiving our tax return on clothes and other merchandises), we arrived back in Malawi at 12:15pm. Then we were taken to our lodge – Kwasa Kwasa Lodge – where we basically slept the whole day to prepare for our long flight the next day. I did however head into Lilongwe to grab some last minute souvenirs at the local craft market. Souvenirs are quoted here at absurd prices (i.e. 4500 MK – $30, when I got the actual item for 700MK (less than $5) in the end). We also got dinner from the lodge, which was a chicken, veggies and rice type of thing. Typical Malawian meal minus the nsima.
And then here we are. When I woke up, I heard from Natasha that our flight completely changed. Our flight out of Lilongwe changed from 1:30pm to 3:30pm – and that we’re not stopping in Congo anymore. Also, our flight from Washington was bumped to 4:55pm, which means I’ll arrive back home at 6:30pm instead of 4:30pm! It was all a mess so we had to go into town after breakfast (included in the lodge) to print off our new e-tickets. After, we got ready by showering for our last time in the cold showers – and then heading off to the airport! At the airport, I spent ALL of my forex – Malawian Kwachas, extra South African Rands, and even one USD to cover the last bit! All this forex for a single bracelet – the conversion and payment was so confusing for the cashier, and then I left Malawi with not a single Malawi Kwacha – except for a 5MK coin (3 cents) that I found in my bag afterwards.
I’m not looking forward to our next stretch of flights – which include six hours to Italy – a stopover – ten hours to Washington – a stopover (for 9 hours) –then finally a 1.5 hour flight home. I’ll probably be posting this once I reach Washington, where I get Wi-Fi for my stopover.
Sitting here at the airport gives me some time to reflect on everything that I’ve been through in the past three months. If you asked me two years ago if I thought I would spend a semester away in Africa, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. And now, just at the end of everything, sitting here at an airport in Ethiopia, it really makes me realize how crazy this whole experience has been. I’m so proud of myself for surviving through it all and grateful to all the support that I have to endure through this journey. Probably just a couple minutes before I take my last steps on Africa now, there’s this very bittersweet feeling. Africa is no longer this place across the world that I cannot imagine. I have seen its beauty and I will remember it in all its glory – rather than simply the World Vision ads on TV. Yes, there’s poverty, but at the same time, happiness is just as present in this piece of Earth. I’m sure there will be a time that I will be back – so as everyone is walking towards the gate now to board the plane, I want to say Goodbye Africa. Thank you for allowing me to grow as a person. I will not forget this experience. I cannot be happier to have this experience. I do not regret picking Malawi and Ungweru as my ELE destination at all – and I’m glad I had this chance to experience Africa in various ways from Malawi to South Africa. Very different – but amazing in its own rights.
However, we’re going home – and that gives me a whole different kind of happiness as well. I get to be back with family and friends through this winter holiday, which definitely will be far more cherished. I have missed home and Canada. You need time away to realize how amazing home really is too – distance does make the heart grow fonder. So, it’s a goodbye to Africa – and a warm hello to Canada. I’ve even begun to miss the school that accompanies with being home – I’m sure that’s odd as many probably are finishing exams as I write. With regards to this blog, I’ll see what I do – whether I continue or leave. I’ll probably enter an entry regarding my return to Canadian soil and my reverse culture shock (which really shouldn’t be bad – as South Africa has dampened the shock), but after, we’ll see.