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  • Day15

    Parting Thoughts

    August 21, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    While I sit on the plane heading home, I have too much time to think. Here are some thougts.

    Tanzanians remind me a lot of Ugandans. They are so friendly and welcoming, and all say hello with authentic joy. They are slightly more organized, or financially stable I guess... Transportation makes a little more sense, although still chaotic. I mean, they have toilet paper everywhere that you can flush! That's luxury! Everything aimed to tourist is more expensive, even more then Kenya. But everything local - like the food and the cheaper guest houses are real cheap! You can eat a full meal for 3,000TZS (1.30$USD) and have a coke for 40 cents USD. We could easily find a room for 25,000TZS (11$USD). And public transport costs pennies compared to back home. My 11 hour air conditioned bus ride from Arusha to Dar Es Salaam was 14$USD. But what I take home from Tanzania really is the smiles of the people.

    As for my anxious self, which I haven't spoken much about, here goes.

    This is social anxiety at play. When I checked in to my flights, I asked the agent if I had isle seats. She said "yes for the first flight, probably for the second, and the third one I can't check because it's another airline". So I'm safe for the first flight. I got to my first layover in Addis Ababa airport, and I made it a challenge for myself not to confirm with an agent that I had an isle seat, and to just trust that I did. 10 minutes before boarding when I saw the gate fill up with people, I cracked. The agent confirmed it was an isle seat. My palpitations slowly resolved. Once I got to my seat, the guy sitting in the middle arrived and asked "you wouldn't by any chance mind taking the middle seat?" signaling to his broad shoulders (gym dude).

    Now I have two ways this could go - my usual 'would never want to cause any conflict or make anyone else uncomfortable' self and give my seat away. Or take the few seconds of discomfort to refuse and not feel suffocated for the next 6 hours. I took the few seconds and responded "sorry, I'm claustrophobic, that's why I always make sure I have an isle seat". That's the easier response. He didn't debate, didn't make me feel guilty, and we joked around that I was small enough for him to be comfortable in the middle.

    If I really wanted to be honest, I'd tell him I'm not claustrophobic by definition - I'm not afraid of tight spaces at all. I'm afraid of the absolutely terrifying moment where I have to go to the washroom and wake him up. Or if I nugde him too often while trying to eat. Or if I'm sitting with my legs out too far that I'm in his space. Or that I'm moving too much for him to rest peacefully. Or maybe my arm is taking too much of the arm rest. See, I can avoid a lot of these by sitting in the isle seat. I point my legs towards the isle so I can spread comfortably (I know, super lady like ;)). I can get up as I please. I can stick my elbows out all I want into the isle. But I assumed claustrophobia was the simplest way to go.

    I found myself thinking about my anxiety during this trip, but in an interesting way. I was able to identify tendencies that I usually have when I'm feeling anxious, and it turns out I've been doing really well! It might be that this trip is only 2 weeks, something that I find easy. It might be that I changed my medication and maybe its working for me. It might be that Jack knows me so incredibly well that she can now help in moments where I would feel anxious before I even have to say anything. Who knows. But this is what I've observed - I haven't been checking multiple times a day that my passport is still in its usual place. I haven't been looking at my calendar at least twice a day to confirm how many days I have left (to make sure I don't miss my flight). I haven't checked my flight status other then the morning of when I tried to check in. I didn't panic when the online world wouldn't let me check in. I didn't count my money over and over again to make sure I didn't go starving in a town that likely had an atm anyways. I didn't check my account everyday to make sure I still had enough money in case something happened or that I didn't get hacked. I have however needed my medication to sleep, although I doubt that will ever change, insomnia should be considered a talent. I have worried about my family at home, and what I could be doing to help them instead of being so far away. I have missed all of them, but I think that's most people when they travel and not just me. Hey, I even ate everyday! And kept everything down! And that's a big deal!

    All in all, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how easy I found traveling in Tanzania was. Granted, I had the practice of Uganda and Kenya which were somewhat similar, but I still feel I can toot my own horn here! Yay for sertraline! Or rather yay for me!
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