Here I am, writing on the airplane as I begin my journey back to Tanzania. It’s been a whirlwind since I found out in September that I would have the privilege to return, this time to teach Entrepreneurship in Arusha, which is in the north of the country, close to the border of Kenya. I’m not travelling with Jim this time, but with Amy, a tourism management faculty from the Annapolis Valley. Jim is just returning from vacation in Thailand and Myanmar and will be teaching my classes while I am away.
It was more difficult to leave this time; we have been dealing with a tragedy in our family circle.
Last Friday, we received devastating news that our friends’ son, (his aunt has been my best friend for 39 years) had been experimenting with magic mushrooms for the second time and had fallen 22 stories to his death. Aidan was an A-student, member of his university’s soccer team, basketball player, coach of elementary kids, volunteer, loving oldest brother, and partner to Becky. He was a young man who had his whole life ahead of him.
It was so difficult to tell our kids – especially the boys. They have grown up together and are like cousins. The family made the decision that they are going to share Aidan’s story with the hope of saving another child so we have been having tough conversations with our kids (and I with my students) about experimenting with drugs – even the “soft” drugs. You just don’t know what you are getting or what it might be laced with. You don’t know how it will affect you one time over another.
It’s not worth the risk.
It can happen to anyone.
Yesterday, I took a vacation day and took the four kids to PEI to visit with the family. Because of the circumstances of his death, Aidan had to be identified through DNA testing before the medical examiner would release his body. Much of the week was spent in a holding pattern before arrangements could be made. The funeral will be held on Saturday, so we’re not able to go, but we needed to see them, and hug them, and begin to process it all.
As it turned out, the family was holding an all-ages basketball game yesterday in Aidan’s memory. It was wonderful. Aidan had coached many of his younger brother Quinn’s (10) friends and they were all there, plus our kids, Aidan’s sister Hannah, his girlfriend Becky, his roommates, and his life-long friends. Watching the kids laugh and run and play was therapeutic for everyone there. The kids played and the adults talked… and hugged… and shared stories… and some tears…
Too soon, we had to head home and Evan drove. He did a good job and got us there safely, but it was a harrowing drive. A transport truck forced us off the road onto the shoulder at one point, but Evan stayed calm and kept the van under control. We passed three separate incidents where police were on site with flashing lights; one was a women who had hit a deer. I know that because we also ran over part of it in the fog. I think we were all happy when we arrived home.
It was an early morning drive to the airport as our flight left at 6:45 am. If all goes smoothly, we will be traveling for approximately 27 hours (18 hours in the air) before we arrive at our hotel on Friday afternoon (new time). There is a seven hour time difference between Truro and Arusha. We fly from Halifax to Toronto, then Toronto to Addis Ababa (with a stop in Dublin), then Addis Ababa to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
I am looking forward to returning to this beautiful county with its amazing people and culture. I am excited to teach using some of the curriculum Jim and I designed as a result of our last trip. I am delighted that I get to travel with Amy, and that Kellie from NSCC International will be in Arusha with us for part of the time. I am thrilled to be exploring new areas and grateful to have the opportunity to go on safari again.
I am blessed that my family understands and supports my travels through my work; I know it’s not easy for them when I am away. For me, today was harder to leave than other times have been; my heart is at home.