I sit in the seat of the plane, tired after hours and hours of travel but so excited as I watch the map on the screen that illustrates our descent into the Kilimanjaro International Airport. I don’t know anyone on the plane so I turn to the nun sitting next to me and, unable to stifle my excitement, tell her that this is my first trip to Africa. She smiles and says; “Now it will be in your heart. You will be back.”
I look out the window as we bump down on the runway. The lights of the plane flash on, off, on, off, creating a strobe effect. My eyes scan the ground. Grass, dark, trees, dark…are there lions roaming around, giraffes, and anaconda? I’m sure the nun would laugh if she knew what I was looking for.
Climbing down the stairs of the plane and onto the dirt, I stop as people rush by me to the path leading to the small airport building. I don’t move, trying to commit this scene to memory. I feel the solid ground under my sandals. I smell the night air, a combination of burning rubber and flowers. I look up at the bats flying around above my head. I feel the hot breeze on my face. I walk slowly forward, full of anticipation and joy, into the unknown…
Self Portrait in Tanzania