I’m about to board a plane and head home to the U.S. after four and a half months abroad in Botswana. It still hasn’t sunk in and I don’t think it will until I exit JFK and and the cold wind blasts me in the face at 6am. About five weeks ago, I was ready to hop on a plane and head home, but now I’m not so sure. Seeing my family and old friends ad sleeping in my own bed again will be wonderful, but I know that my real homecoming won’t match the fantasy version I’ve fabricated over the past few week. I can’t wait to have a burrito and a good cup of coffee, but when it comes down to it, I might crave just a plate of stewed cabbage and freshly-cooked pap. Or some mabele with a cup of rooibos tea.
I’m going to miss the quiet peacefulness of Botswana, riding kombis, walking just about everywhere, and bumping into goats and cattle wandering around my neighborhood. I’m going to miss how friendly and helpful people could be on public transportation or around the city of Gabs. I’m definitely going to miss my host families in Gaborone and in Kanye. Honestly, what I think I’m going to miss most is blending in for once in my life. People have mistaken me for a Motswana all the time, and while I found it to be insanely frustrating at first, it didn’t take long for me to love it.
I don’t think I’m ready for how convenient, fast, and intense everything’s going to be in the states. But I’m also going to appreciate so much. Anytime I go to a bathroom now and there’s toilet paper AND soap, I’m going to feel like I’m at the Ritz. And being in Botswana made me realize just how precious water is. It’s actually scary.
I don’t know when I’ll be back in Gabs, but I plan to come back to Botswana some day. Looking back, I’m so happy I chose Botswana over other choices like England and Spain. My experience has been so amazing and I don’t think I would have been able to get anything close to this is in Europe. I met amazing people all over southern Africa, partied at Oktoberfest in Namibia, bungee jumped at Victoria Falls, attempted to snorkel with whale sharks in Mozambique, watched wild dogs hunt down a pack of impala in the Okavango Delta, chased a poisonous sea snake in Zanzibar with a camera (a dumb move in hindsight), and made some amazing friends that I can’t wait to see in the future.
While my experience was frustrating at times, it was priceless and profound. It’s been great, Botswana. Go siame!