Again with the cleaning out the house, I found a letter I wrote to blast out to friends and family after returning from Zimbabwe. These will be my 'cheater' posts for a little while. Hopefully you will find it entertaining. -------------------------
Now that the holiday rush is over, I can sit down and write about my final vacation. I must say first that the best thing I ever did was come home for Christmas because being with my family (most of it) and the accompanying hectic and noise and fun and general bullshit has made the transition easier. (I forgot to mention the welcome by my parents at the airport, carrying a winter coat for me, bless their hearts, to protect me from -15 degree weather, and the welcome by my brothers and sister and brother in law at home with balloons and Batman party favors and the Welcome Home NoRegrets sign up with the word 'again' written on it). People have written to me and said to me that the transition must be so difficult, but I'm finding it OK.
I thank heaven for good transportation after the mess in Bulawayo, catch myself spelling words in the British way, am amazed at the selection of foods to be found in the supermarket (though with the cold weather all over the country I wish I were in Zimbabwe where you can get fresh vegetables cheap) and find that my perspective on this world over here has definitely been altered by my time in Zimbabwe. When a TV special was trying to be dramatic and say how much the Romanians have to endure by mentioning that their room/houses were lit by a single bulb, all I could think was that a large proportion of the people in Zimbabwe don't have any electricity at all, and I was not duly impressed.
I'm already facing news withdrawal about southern Africa, since the hot items in this country are Eastern Europe and General Noreiga, but it is splendid to read the NY Times. It's nice to be able to inform people of things about southern Africa that they never would have known, and perhaps open their eyes to things about their own country they never would have thought about. So far I've only gotten the question "How was Africa?" a few times seriously (expecting the answer 'good' and that's it). People have been open to hearing about the experience, which is comforting to me. Hopefully I'll be able to descend on my friend's 3rd grade class and open their eyes.
Other things which struck me began at the airport - the incredible variety of people here in the states - all different faces, all different accents, but all American. It was wonderful to go collect my luggage and hear the workers there speaking in thick New York accents, and one of them ask me if I really did hike the Canyon (it was on my t-shirt). I was laughing and smiling all the way through customs (because I got through with no problem for one reason). Even now it's amazing to me, since I have dared to enter that hall of American culture - the mall - where one finds all sorts of people (including frizzed-out make-upped teenagers) and have dared to buy a mini-skirt (after feeling too self-conscious to wear anything but skirts below my knees and pants for a year, I need a change). It's wonderful to be able to make a phone call without waiting 30 minutes for a line, and then getting a bad connection. The comforts in America are nice.