Into Africa

I started this blog almost exactly three years ago when I was traveling to Nairobi for a research project. I wanted to use it to write about what I was experiencing and had no idea what kind of blog it would turn out to be. I didn’t I realize that it would mostly be me laughing at myself like when I broke the shower and almost flooded our Nairobi apartment or when I cried my eyes out on 4th of July.

I am writing this before I leave for Uganda and I feel a lot different than I did three years ago. I am tempted to even say maybe I have grown and the more adventurous things I do the less anxious I feel about them. I shudder to even think about how I felt before I left for Kenya. I can still feel that paralyzing anxiety in my gut.

I made some rookie mistakes that I do not think I will make this time. I completely over-packed and planned as if I was going to a remote village instead of the city of Nairobi. I did not realize that I would be living right next door to what is basically a target and became one of my favorite places while living in Nairobi. Also, I failed to think about the fact that a lot of places do not have elevators and so I would be dragging two huge suitcases upstairs (or more accurately asking a cab driver or hotel employee to haul them up the stairs as they laughed at me).

More importantly I have now realized I can’t really imagine what the trip is going to be like and that might be the best part about it. I do not have to control or predict every aspect of the trip and to be honest I can’t. I can deal with things as they happen and the most challenging experiences always make the best stories.

Here are a few things that have kept me much calmer this pre-trip time when I am usually the most anxious version of myself:

  1. Read travel memoirs of people doing much more adventurous things. I am currently reading Love with a Chance of Drowning about a woman who decides to sail across the pacific with her new boyfriend despite the fact that she had 1) never sailed before, 2) suffered from seasickness, and 3) was afraid of the ocean.
  2. Goodbyes do not have to be dramatic. Shaun suggested this one to me as I find the pre-goodbye usually puts me in quite a tizzy. They can be loving and warm, but do not need to be blown out of proportion.
  3. Don’t get nervous about being nervous, there is a chance I am not even going to be that nervous. Before I left for Nairobi I was an anxious wreck for weeks. Granted, that trip was almost two months and this one isn’t even quite two weeks, but in hindsight was it really worth the wasted energy in advance? I think my strategy is to put off being nervous for as long as possible and then embrace the nerves if/when they arrive. This time I got pretty anxious a few days before and then had one small crying meltdown while finishing packing and preparing to leave for the airport. I can deal with that!
  4. Exercise hard– now that I am a “crossfitter” (which is really a whole separate blog post) pre-trip I put all of my energy into getting through crossfit classes and that left me with less energy to use being anxious.
  5. Break down the travel into steps of things that might be challenging. For example, on the way to the airport just focusing on getting to the airport, do not think ahead to checking-in, boarding the plane, the plane ride, etc. Then once I get to the airport I can go to the next step – checking-in and so on. I even made a list this time of the different steps so that I could remain focused on each one.

Finally, if I wasn’t at all nervous then it wouldn’t be an adventure would it? Stay tuned for more posts from Uganda! And please feel free to include some “Uganda be kidding me” jokes.

*Editor’s note: I wrote this before I left, but I am posting this from Uganda (made it here!). I will have a post about the trip and Uganda up soon!


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