pack it in.

but leave some extra space.

The theme of the week. Pack everything I need for four months in a suitcase and leave room for weight requirements. Make sure all necessary items are collected and packed and leave time and space for what I’ve forgotten. Schedule all lunch, dinner and coffee dates that I can squeeze in but leave time for the unexpected.  Oh, and work 35 hours – a little extra money is always good.

This week lasted forever.

For anyone who is wondering, I managed to fit everything into one suitcase and a backpack. After prancing around real proud of myself for an hour or so I discovered that, unfortunately, while it is possible to FIT everything in two bags, it is not possible to fit everything in two bags and make it WEIGH less than a combined 76.5 lbs. Ladies and gentleman, I failed to reach my goal of checking only one bag – I know, I’ve been sulking for a whole 24 hours now. But when I realized my required textbooks, ream of printer paper, and laundry detergent alone weigh 17 lbs and the suitcase itself 14 lbs …. I caved. I compromised by shedding the large suitcase, utilizing a medium one and adding a small duffle.  When looking at before and after photos I have to admit that while disappointed, I’m relatively impressed with myself.

More impressed, at least, than I am with my ability to book flights. Those of you who know my travel skills and luck won’t be surprised to learn that I messed up the ONE ticket I was personally responsible for… See, Advantage Travel took care of our group flight from JFK to Africa. I just need to get myself to NYC. Well, I discovered late on Tuesday night that February 3rd is not a Monday, it is a Sunday. Oops. (Sound familiar Kendra? At least you booked for the day after not before!) But no worries, I was able to change it – thank goodness.

As the week grew more hectic, I grew increasingly anxious to just get there and get the stress of it over with. But I realized last night that this feeling of chaos isn’t going to end – and it shouldn’t. At least not for the next four months. I want to embrace every second of this trip, to pack it in, to do everything – even if it doesn’t seem possible. Even if it goes against how I instinctively live my life. And somehow, as I managed to this week, I need to leave room for the unexpected – because that is what I’ll remember most. I’ll just sleep when I’m dead, right? Or at least when I get home.

Kwa Heri, United States. Hujambo, Tanzania.

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