21 January 2014

west africa-bound!

i'm writing this while sitting on a plane on the dulles tarmac, staring out snow-covered windows from one of the only flights that's leaving on time this evening (well, inshallah - we haven't left yet!) i'm lucky to have a couple seats to myself and i'm settled in for an easy direct flight to dakar. i'm an anomaly, since everyone else on the half-empty plane seems to be either a middle-aged couple vacationing in south africa, a group of study abroad-ers preemptively in flip-flops, or a west african grandmother with a beautiful headscarf. i've got a bottle of green juice and a luna bar in easy reach, since in all my thinking and prepping, i never remembered to request vegetarian meals. i've checked a thousand times that i have the essentials: passport, wallet, laptop, arrival documents. headphones, check; phone, check, but with limited battery thanks to this post. i'm planning to sleep through the flight anyway.

i realized this is the first time i've boarded a flight out of the u.s. completely, 100% by myself. no group or even friend to fall back on - i won't meet the organization or my friend tamar until i'm already there tomorrow morning. it's a little lonely, but not so bad without even a layover! and i know it'll be a fabulous two months and i can't wait. 

today was hectic since we ended up having to drive home from nashville, (for complicated reasons) missing our flights and arriving late last night. i loved nashville and hope to even make a blog post about it soon! but for now, senegal. today was full of last-minute errands and odds and ends stuffed into my ever-growing suitcase. saying goodbye to some family in person, and making a few phone calls as well. taking deep breaths, enjoying the company of my favorite people, giving lots of hugs, experiencing those inevitable pre-travel jitters but staying calm and knowing i'm ready. 

goodbyes are always hard, and change is a challenge. i will miss so many people, and this trip will be crazy and very hard at times but i know it'll also be completely rewarding and lots of fun. i'm going to fall in love with the people, culture, and sights of west africa. i'm so lucky. i can't wait.

x, m

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