29 January 2008

Ten days

Ten days ago, we left New Zealand.

Ten days from now, we leave for Africa. It's amazing how much can change in ten days.

Ten days ago, we were free-wheeling—but exhausted—tourists in a first-world country, floating in its volcanic, lower-right-hand corner of the world. Ten days ago, we pondered the merits of the Memphis Meltdown, Marmite, diet Schwepps Ginger Ale, Jelly Tips, the caramel Tim-Tam, and the yellow-eyed penguin. (In case you were wondering, we decided they all had quite a bit. Except maybe the yeast).

Today, we're bedraggled first-world citizens juggling getting taxes done (yes, in January), papers written, supplies shopped for, and dinners had before we leave. Today we're harried Dallasites, criss-crossing this city's cement macramé in preparation for something we don't know. Today, we're devouring the blogs of those already there, trying to get a feel for what living in Cabin 3425 is going to be like (will we have windows? a bathroom? shelf space? sheets? access to the internet?), for what operating on this rolling ship will entail and what caring for these patients will challenge, for what meandering through the streets of Monrovia will ask of us, for what living with four hundred or so others in a 499-foot boat will do to us.

Today, we're attempting to stave off the unknown, but finding it bubble to the surface in concentric circles of uncertainty, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and the contrasting, alliterative emotional roller-coaster that accompanies any change.

And in ten days, we board an American Airlines 767 for the first of three legs of the trip—to Brussels, then to Abidjan (it's in the Côte d'Ivoire...I had to google it too), and finally to Monrovia.

Our hearts are restless, wrote the erstwhile Bishop of Hippo. I wonder if he was ever able to accomplish what he wrote next.

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