Getting to Tanzania

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I was eight, our family took in Ulla, a Finnish foreign exchange student who had been having a hard time with her host family. She went to high school with my sister and one day my sister just brought her home to stay. I’d never heard of Finland before, and Ulla’s descriptions made it sound to my child mind like this bizarre, strange, magical world where they ate salty licorice and spoke gibberish to each other by candlelight. To my very imaginative child mind, it sounded like just Narnia, but Ulla was so…normal. She didn’t have horns or any weird personality traits. The most unusual thing about her was that she was kind of pale.

Meeting Ulla really brought it home (pun intended) that nowhere in the world is  truly foreign. Even though these places sound so incredible and fantastic, the people there are probably kind of boring and wonderful, just like people anywhere else. So, at eight, I developed a deep and abiding passion for travel. I wanted, and still want, to meet all the wonderful, boring people living in all the crazy looking places.

I moved around a lot in my teens, back and forth from Europe starting when I was fourteen. Then college, work and a social life kept me in the same place (Arizona – love the people, hate the politics) from 19 to 23. I moved to the Midwest for a bit (now that’s an odd and delightful place – shout out Des Moines!), made some great new friends, joined an awesome nonprofit (Peak 4 Poverty – check them out), loved up my mama, and packed my bags for Tanzania. To get here, I had to (got to) sell or give away all my stuff – car, clothes, furniture, books, dishes, cats (don’t worry – best cat home ever) – and take a pretty huge leap of faith.

Huge leaps are my favorite. The bigger the jump, the bigger the adventure, right? I like to test myself. There’s a quote I heard somewhere (okay, honestly, I heard it while watching that GCB show on ABC, it’s hilarious) that says, “Jump off every cliff you see, because God will either catch you when you fall or teach you how to fly.”

That’s kind of how it feels. Besides dying, which can happen anywhere, anytime, whether I travel or not, what’s the worst that can happen? Nothing worth not doing it over, because the potential rewards are better than anything that can even be imagined at this point. Better than anything that can be imagined, because until I go, I can’t know what’s out there waiting for me.

This is me finding out. Woohoo!

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