For just over a month now I have become reacquainted to a world with shower heads, porcelain toilets, food diversity, and, perhaps least exciting, cold weather. This is not to say that I never encountered any of these commodities while in Africa, but they were definitely not a standard thing as they are here.
Another example? Water at restaurants. Every time I go out now I find the waiter leaving a pitcher after giving up on returning every two minutes to refill my drink.
In many ways it is great to be back. I missed friends, family and many other qualities about the United States. In other ways, I will always remember and miss parts of my experience. Everything I did was completely unique and I am happy to have the stories to share.
As I run into people I have not seen in six months, the constant question is, “How was Africa?” Talk about a loaded question! Where do I start, with learning to hunt, or living in a mud house? Eating exotic animals or drinking goat blood? The culture or the wildlife? There are so many components to my experience it makes a brief conversation about it quite a challenge at times.
One question I have received consistently, however, is whether I felt unsafe in Africa. I usually refer to the corruption in police at road blocks and a few other incidents. Yet in all of these, a minimal (in American dollars) bribe would have sent me safely on my way.
Yet back in Corvallis is where I feel more in danger. With shootings across the U.S. and a new state making the news every day, this American turmoil is frightening. Beyond that, I received a few “timely warnings” about shady people in Corvallis before returning, and in the last two weeks there have been two attempted sexual assaults near our college campus. It is chaos like this that frightens me more than when I had spears thrown at my vehicle or snuck onto a ferry under the alias of “Hussein Yahya” while abroad.
With all of the advantages that come from being in a “developed” nation, there are some areas of society where we do not appear to be as far ahead as we would like to think.
For now I will return to the world of structured lectures and struggling to sit still for 50-80 minutes depending on the class. In Corvallis I have my friends here, and as far as safety is concerned there are police that do not change allegiance pending the highest bidder.
Corvallis is a great place, but I definitely miss watching the setting sun disappear under the baobab trees.