Sunday, June 3, 2012

America America

I am back in America.  I got the news a little more than a month ago that my older brother would be getting married memorial day.  With this unexpected news I had to make the decision of whether to come home for the wedding or not.  I quickly decided that there was no other choice but to come home.  I started the daunting task of trying to find the cheapest possible ticket home.  A direct flight from Africa to America is expensive so the alternative is to get a flight with many stops.  I ultimately settled on a flight itinerary for Banjul, The Gambia to Brussels, Belgium to Montreal, Canada to Toronto, Canada then my final destination of Portland, Oregon.  I was excited I had never been to either one of those Canadian cities. 
I held the news from my Gambian family until about a week before I left.  As soon as I told them they instantly asked if I was coming back.  I reassured them that I was coming back and I started preparing for leaving.  This includes packing up anything and everything I wanted to bring home for gifts, and things I may not need for the remaining 10months in The Gambia. 

Brother and Wife

The siblings

The news that I was going to America spread throughout my village like wildfire and people started coming up to me with request of things they wanted from America or even the request of taking them to America with me. My response to most of these request to accompany me on the journey to America was to ask them if they has money for the ticket and they usually response was “No,” or I would pay for them, I would respond with “no, if you can fit in my bag you can go.”  Most people laughed and would walk away but some people said ok they would come later.  In the end no one ever came to be part of my luggage.  Some requests from friends and villagers were as simple as maybe a shirt or a pair of pants.   Some of the other requests where shoes, an American wife, watches and even a car, I would response to these request with a “maybe, or I’ll try.”

The next obstacle was to figure out my mode of transport to the airport with my two large bags at 9pm. My host brother and I went and talked to the village gelly driver and he said he would take me to the airport with all of my stuff.  When people would ask what time I would leave the village and how I was getting to the airport I would tell them the village gelly is taking me and they would more than welcome to come along with me. 

The evening of my departure I took a bath ate my final dinner and halfway through dinner the gelly showed up at our compound and we started loading up my luggage.  People started showing up to say goodbye and make the journey to the airport with me and my host mother, my two host brothers, a cousin, and a few friends.  As we were leaving the village people e come out of all their houses and said good by and yelled and waved to me. 

I made it to the airport and checked in said goodbye and waved goodbye to everyone one last time and told them I would see them in a few weeks.  My flight went well, but I had to get out of my airplane retrieve my luggage and go through Canadian customs with it then put it back on the plane go through security and get back on the same plane to Toronto.  One hour later I had to do it all over again except for US Customs. Then put it back on another plane and go through security again.  Both times I had to run to catch my plane because customs took so long.  I made a mental note as to never take that itinerary again where I have to fly to Canada first. 

About 15 minutes before we arrived in Portland the pilot came over the loud speaker and said there is a bad thunder and lightning storm over Portland that we can’t land and we don’t have enough fuel to wait the storm out so we are headed to Seattle.  It had been about 25hrs of traveling so far so I didn’t care I figured what’s another few hours.  We landed in Seattle refueled and returned to Portland.  I got off the airplane to big signs and all of my family smiling and crying to see me.
The Fam
Rehearsal TriTip dinner

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