Thursday, February 07, 2008

Africa REDUX


Ladies on the road to Bamako, originally uploaded by annemariew.

My biggest regret about the last year, successful as its been in terms of treatment results, is that it ruined our plans for our great escape to Africa.

Rich and I were due to quit our day jobs, move to Uganda, and start a fantastic sounding job managing a backpackers' and overlanders' lodge in the middle of a national park, working for a wonderful sounding woman.

It was a dream come true and we spent weeks preparing to leave, not quite believing our luck.

Then, four weeks to the day before we were due to leave, I was diagnosed and everything changed in an instant.

It was heartbreaking to see our plans disintegrate so utterly, and we were flung into the madness and horribleness of treatment and operations.

As we were coming out the other side of all of this, and we started to see light at the end of the tunnel (not that sort of light - I'm not planning on seeing that sort of light for many years yet), we started to make enquiries again. Remind people that we still wanted to do this, one day.

Sadly, our ex-boss to be in Uganda was fully staffed up, and try as she might find a way to employ us alongside her existing staff (I told you, she was a wondeful sounding woman), there didn't seem to be a way she could justify it. We just had to accept that if we were going to get a job out there, we would have to start from scratch and find one with someone else.

The trouble was, the turnover on lodge jobs is very low - they only come up once every three years or so. And backpackers' lodges - the sorts of places we'd like to work - are surprisingly thin on the ground across Africa. The chances of something popping up were very slim. It was hard not to feel despondent.

Then, last month, a text message out of the blue changed everything. Again.

IF YOU'RE STILL INTERESTED SOMETHING'S COME UP IN UGANDA. CAN WE SPEAK?

Still interested? Was she mad?

So here we are a few weeks later, and in about eight weeks time, R and I will be leaving England to go and manage a backpackers' and overlanders' lodge in Kampala, belonging to the same ex-boss to be as before (now once again, our rightful boss to be).

I tend towards the superstitious, putting too much faith in fate, but this really feels right. In fact, it feels absolutely meant to be.

And now I am in a position to come clean about this bit of news, other things emerge into the light and are suddenly easier to explain.

Like the sudden flurry of decorating (one bedroom and one kitchen down; a lot more to go).

And why the heightened paranoia about health? That's the worst one. I spent a week on cloud nine and have proceeded to worry myself into the ground every since. It's not so much the actual physical symptoms that get me so paranoid, it's more the pattern of superstition that has formed around these events.

Get offered dream job in Africa? Check.
Start preparing madly to emigrate? Check.
Announce to your long-suffering and patient and supportive colleagues you are giving up the day job? Again? Check.

So far, so very much the same as last year. But until today I've had trouble believing that that's where the similarities end. I keep expecting the rug to be pulled out from under my feet again, and for somehow, cancer to rear her ugly head.

My desire to go ahead with the plans to get out there has never wavered, but the paranoia I've been feeling over the last few weeks built to such a level I momentarily stopped having faith in the reality of actually going.

But today it feels like a cloud has lifted.

I've cleared up my immediate health concerns.

I won't ever be sure forever, but I'm as sure as I can be right now.

Because of this, I've been able to recently tell work about my plans, which has been a huge relief. And hopefully gives us enough time to replace me, without leaving them in the lurch.

And they were so incredibly understanding and supportive upon hearing the news that the whole weight of guilt-ridden "I'm a bad person for deserting them so soon after they stood by me" thoughts have been lifted from me.

So finally I am starting to have some faith again in this really happening.

Wipe the last twelve months.

Africa REDUX is on.

"Don't Give Up The Day Job" is finally giving up the day job.

And much as I love DCH, my life will be so much better for it.

8 comments:

irene said...

Good on you, girl. Do hope you'll keep on blogging, though.

Marie said...

I can't wait to read about your adventures in Uganda.

Steve said...

does the 'backpackers lodge' have a luxury suite? Jude and I will visit - but I'm not at all good with the great unwashed

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

A guest room in our manager's cottage for the cheaper friends of mine, or the chance to rent a more private two bed cottage with bathroom and living area etc in the grounds. And we have a 5m plunge pool. And a goat.

What more do you want?

But it ain't Abercrombie & Kent, so if you require one too many scatter cushions or zebra skin floor rugs we may have to talk alternatives!

It would be vg to see you out there - could you tear J away from Namibia though?
x

Steve's Mum said...

Great news.All the best to you both. Please keep blogging

Marie said...

There's a gorgeous alternative in town called Emin Pasha Hotel. No great unwashed there. But it ain't cheap.

Steve said...

fantastic... already checked out flights. Jude's all over coming over... when's best for you (and for pics?)

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Everybody is promising they will visit - but v few have 'booked a slot' yet. The only fixed times to avoid are:
- end June (I back in UK for a friend's wedding)
- end Nov (a friend already booked up to visit
- and if you don't do Africa in the rainy season you may wish to avoid April/May and Oct/Nov in general...

So get flight booking and we'll see you out there
x