BEGIN EVASIVE MANEUVERS!
In the past few days I have been able to turn this pile of madness...
...into this set of completely packed luggage...
I am amazed to say I had it all packed seven days early. A whole week! Imagine that. While sitting around staring at the packed luggage and twiddling my thumbs, a thought occurred to me: What am I going to do about my sleeping bag and yoga mat? Now you can't tell in the picture, but the sleeping bag isn't exactly carry-on friendly. With no straps or handles, it is fairly cumbersome. The yoga mat, on the other hand, could be easily taken aboard the plane. I have room for one more carry-on (a savvy traveler like myself always plans to be in this situation). With this, plus all the additions my parents decided to have (also planned by this very savvy traveler) I decided to add an extra carry-on bag, shifting some things from the large red suitcase into it making room, hopefully, for my sleeping bag and some other amenities that were last minute additions to my load.
Here's hoping it all fits!
WARNING:The rest of this will be somewhat boring.
After finishing packing, I realized how real this whole adventure is going to be. I know what you're thinking: Aditi, you are JUST NOW realizing this is real? No, my faithful readers, this is not a new revelation, it is merely a more vivid awareness (if my English is correct). The whole application, evaluation, interview, and general madness of the process pre-assignment and pre-departure has made this whole adventure so surreal, it was hard to ever imagine it really coming into fruition. However, thanks to the wonderful invention of social networking, I can actually picture what my life might be like in Uganda, on my days off. Using Facebook to stalk current PCVs I became more and more excited about the prospect of seeing new sites and having new adventures. At the same time, I realize how secluded I will be, how far away I will be from my family and friends....everything I know. That's a scary thought. Not necessarily the fact that I will be away from everything I know, but that it will be for two years. The longest I have been away from my known world has been for six months and I was in Australia, so that is completely incomparable. I keep thinking about how nervous I was then and how nervous I am now and it seems ridiculous for me to have been nervous at all about going to Australia.
How am I supposed to mentally prepare for this? I wonder if I need to physically prepare for this? I have been taking cold showers recently, more so as a result of the extreme heat wave crossing through central Florida than in actual preparation for cold bucket baths in Uganda. That's beside the point. While I am very excited for this adventure and I look forward to each and every challenge it is sure to bring me, I am also quite nervous.
That's normal, right?
With all this focus on the nervousness, I almost lose sight of what I am doing, the reason behind all the madness. Yes, there are many uncertainties regarding this adventure, but isn't that what will make it more interesting? That and, well, I'm moving to Uganda. Sometimes the idea of moving to Uganda completely overshadows what I'm actually going there to do. Then I get back into excitement mode. I'm going to be working on an HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Nutrition project. Shut the front door! I can mold the minds of the little African babies. Ok, maybe a little extreme, but hey, someone's got to do it! Alright, alright, I won't get carried away. My roller coaster of mental stability is less interesting to you than it probably is to me. I find it amazing I can wake up having a near full on panic attack thinking about moving to Uganda and within ten minutes be smiling from ear to ear thinking about taking pictures at the famous rings on the Equator or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or even white water rafting the Nile (swimming with them hippos and crocs too...ok that puts me back into panic attack mode). Then I get even more excited thinking about the potential good I will be doing for whichever community I end up working in, all the children I will surely fall in love with while I am there, all the news friends I will make, and above all else, how much help I can be to the people there.
The human mind is so interesting.
And now, I have entered nerd mode.
Now I have less than 24 hours left in Florida. I've spent my last day driving to and from Tampa in order to get an internet modem USB for use in Uganda (from my best friend Gina who recently came back from Uganda), went shopping (yet again!) for a new suitcase, got a rolling bag from the flea market for $20 (I hope it doesn't fall apart en route to Uganda), and finally ate something around 15:00. Holy crab cakes. I'm happy I got to see Gina again though. While our adventure at Disney surely was entertaining, it was good to see one last familiar COPH face before I headed out of the sunshine state. There are so many people I wish I got to see one last time, Vivis, Susi, and so many other friends from COPH (and those not from COPH). The past few days have been so crazy with packing and shopping I haven't really had time to sit and think about all the faces I'll miss seeing. All my friends who will be coming back from their IFEs (International Fiend Experience) just as I am leaving for mine!
Oh, the irony.
Packing has sucked almost all the joy out of this trip. Oh, complete exaggeration, but honestly, I have packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, and FINALLY packed. I am still overweight by at least ten pounds. It sucks because I feel as though most of my items are completely necessary. Ugh. Ok, maybe not all of them, the 10+ tote bags aren't necessary, but I swear they aren't for me, they are to give to people in Uganda. So much of my luggage is full of gifts, my nickname will be Santa.