Wednesday, September 2, 2015
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” — Neale Donald Walsch
For most of you, travel is something you can do almost without thinking. You have multilane interstate highways, commuter trains, subways, and easy access to airports. In two weeks, I begin a major journey. For me to travel to New York City, it will take three days each way. I will first drive three hours south to the first town big enough to have an airport, but not an international one. Since we can’t drive at night (most countries can), I have to drive down the day before (Thursday) and stay in a hotel so I can make my early morning flight from Mwanza across Tanzania to Dar Es Salaam. As my flight leaves at eight in the morning, I must be at the airport at six which means I have to find a hotel near the airport as Mwanza now has a new mall that adds thirty minutes from downtown to the airport. After flying a Tanzanian airline across the entire country (Tanzania is bigger than Texas), I wait at the airport at Dar Es Salaam for my afternoon flight to Dubai. This is Friday now, but I land in Dubai early Saturday morning (around three A.M. I think). A few hours in Dubai and then a fifteen hour flight from Dubai to JFK in New York. Then a limo (Lincoln Town Car actually) drives me the almost sixty miles from the airport to my son’s place in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The limo trip takes about an hour and a half. So, after leaving Bunda at eleven o’clock Thursday morning, I finally arrive around noon on Saturday having travelled for 48 hours with lots of waiting at airports and 22 hours in the air. Coming back, I get into Dar Es Salaam too late to make it back to Mwanza, so another night in a hotel in Dar Es Salaam and a return flight to Mwanza the next day. Six days to get there and back. How far could you go just by car three days in back? Completely across the country is all. You could drive from Los Angeles to New York and back in the same time, and never have to change the mode of your transportation while I have two personal car rides, two limo rides, and six different airline flights on two different airlines, six planes and security checks, customs, and immigration. When you are my age and have trouble walking, not to mention squeezing large parts of me into narrow seats (about half the size of a Ford Fiesta’s seats) and having to sit quietly for over fourteen hours at a stretch with no one to ask, “Are we there yet?” There are some that see flying as an exciting adventure. I do not count myself as a part of that group. Having to ask for a seat belt extension is extremely humiliating. This will most probably be my very last trip of this nature (I know, never say “never” because God can make me do things I wouldn’t otherwise do). Of course, I also have to make sure all the payroll, bills, and food money, contributions and other expenses are all in their appropriate envelopes before I leave so Karen and John will have no monetary problems while I’m gone and emergency money just in case, not to mention making sure my passport, residence permit stamp, tickets, and hotel reservations are all sorted in advance. There are good things of course, I will get to visit with my son and daughter-in-law, and hopefully get good news from the doctors in New York—and new glasses, too, so the images on the tv screen aren’t fuzzy anymore. I can also bring back stuff in my suitcase too heavy to mail, so I have a list from John and Karen to fill while I’m there. Life will be better when I’m back, especially if I return with good news about my “best if used by date” and boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese which we cannot get here, as well as powdered sour cream. Don’t know if Karen and John will be happier to see me or my suitcase, but either way I will be happy to be back in my beloved Tanzania. Hopefully to stay for ten to fifteen more years before God decides I have done enough and will call me home. If I make it to 85, I will be ready. I’m actually ready now, but it seems God still has work for me to do, and He always gets His way.