Multiple pairs of clean underwear (I'm told they wear out quickly)...check
Photos to cure homesickness (haven't looked at them yet..nope...not me)...check
Dutch Cheese for my team (the best way to make friends)...check
The Mail (sadly I don't get to wear the polyester outfit)...check
Feeling of excitement (mildly reminiscent of nausea)...check
Seems like I'm ready to go. At the moment it's still all very surreal. I keep wondering if this is one of the "vivid" dreams caused by Lariam and I will simply wake up on an air mattress on my apartment floor. But I am in fact here, and will be leaving for the airport in a few short hours. I have been reading a book on Mobutu (In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz) but I imagine that arriving in the DRC will be similar to the experience of visiting the house of Anne Frank after reading her diary. It is one thing to read about history in a book, it is another to be in the place where it happened. I am nervous and excited all at the same time. I am hopeful that I can be of service to the project and to the people of Congo.
It's hard to contemplate life in an African Village whilst I sit in my hotel room and laugh at Dave Chappelle. But I do have a keen awareness of certain realities and thus enjoyed every moment of my last hot shower and the glorious sound of a flushing toilet. The weather in Amsterdam has been slightly less enjoyable but it has allowed me to test out the waterproof-ness of my new and sturdy hiking boots. Today however has been a gift...the kind of sunny and beautiful day that makes you breathe deep in an effort to take it all in, in the hope that it will sustain you through the remainder of the rainy days. I guess that is also what I have tried to do over the last few weeks with the farewells and goodbyes... breathing them in, holding them tightly, appreciating every moment. I am left with a profound feeling of grattitude.
And so I am off. Comforted that things are exactly as they should be;
Comforted that "we part only to meet again" (Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
[ More Info : the book that Shauna mentions, "In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo" is by Michela Wrong, and available on paperback by most commercial or online retailers ]