I wasn't prepared for all of the emotions that came along with coming back here. Happiness, of course, to see Louis and spend time with him, like we did before. Feeling excited and happy to see everyone that I used to see on a daily basis, some of them that I really, really have missed. But I'm also filled with memories of a not-so-great times, and also reminded of everything that's happened in the last year.
And I am completely out of my element.
If I was at home before, it was because I was sick. I'm at home now...but I'm not sick. I feel fine. But I feel weird going to the pool, like, I'm playing hookey and have to keep a low profile.
Also...I'm not entirely prepared for the gong-show-ness of Madagascar?
I needed a SIM card for a phone that Louis got for me so that I could be reached while I'm here. We arrived in Tamatave on Monday, but I told him that I'd go Tuesday, because I was really tired (I was super crazy tired). But Tuesday came...and I kept postponing the time...finally Louis asking if I'd like him to just go get it. I wanted to go into town...but I knew that getting a SIM card could be something that would take 5 OR 55 minutes. I wasn't comfortable not taking charge of something like that...something so simple and that was my way of living until last year. But finally, the anxiety I felt around the whole thing...I just gave in. But I wanted to come with Louis to go get it.
We were there the cell phone shop for about 2 minutes and I nearly tackled Louis to hug him, with a huge, huge THANK YOU. I was so relieved to just let him take care of it. I'm not sure it took the entire 55 minutes, but we spoke to a minimum of four different people. We wanted SIM card for a phone and enough credit to last me two weeks. The total price ended up being around $5. We were there for at least 30 minutes. I went and sat with the driver at one point, then we went to the bank, and Louis came out covered in sweat. It was an extremely simple task...but here? You never know what you're going to get. I just didn't want to deal with it. Even Louis was extremely frustrated.
The company has a program where someone meets us at the airport and helps us with customs. It's very common to be hassled or asked for a bribe, or asked to pay duty on something...or really just be hassled. Normally, the guy that does this does a pretty good job, but this time...I don't know, I'm not sure what was going on, because the Customs Officer called me over. Scratch that, he didn't call me over, I saw him with my passport and I saw him pass it Customs Boss, so I followed my passport since Airport Greeter Guy (AGG) was no where to be found. I had incorrectly filled out my form, saying I was staying until April 25th instead of March 25th. This means that I need a different visa. I explained the error, telling him that I was very tired (I had been flying for ~35 hours at this point), and then he said, Oh, so you're lazy.
I got my passport back, then he walked over to the original Customs Officer and said to me, Hey, you're a girl that weights 100kg. (Which is roughly 225lbs, which is roughly NOT WHAT I WEIGH. I'm totally having a fat week, and this didn't help. I weight less than I did when I lived here but more than I did two months ago...by about...4lbs. I know, end of the world, right?????!).
When AGG came over, I told him what happened, and he fiend some kind of shock, and then said he would go and speak with him. Ok. Whatever.
We waited for my suitcases to be thrown onto the belt...and guess what...they didn't come. I was pretty certain they wouldn't, because when taking a flight with South African Airlink, there is a 30-40% chance that your suitcases won't arrive for a day or two. I absolutely detest Airlink (as do most people). The flight service is actually quite fantastic, but ticket agents, counter agents, or whatever they are called are HORRIBLE. Rude, unhelpful and often incompetent. I'm not sure how they remain part of the Star Alliance Network.
Anyway, I wasn't too worried, as I saw that the boxes of clothes that I donated last year were still in Louis' villa. I went through them, found a lot of clothes that I still like (and now fit), so I was pretty much good to go. Maybe not best dressed, but hey, that's never been my forte.
Last night I didn't sleep. I stayed awake all day, went to the gym, went to the pool....but woke up so many times, STARVING. I dreamed of food all night long, even mumbling to Louis that we should order room service (now that would be an extreme gong show). I think over the night I ate three granola bars because that's all I could find.
I wake up with Louis to eat breakfast, and then my plan was to head back to bed to sleep until 08h30 or so. The phone woke me up, it was Louis letting me know that Camp Maintenance would be there to fix our air conditioner and my suitcases had arrived and I could pick up a key for an extra room (to help me organize stuff and see what needs to stay and what can be packed. I can't lie by the pool ALL day). (And I love organizing crap).
Maintenance showed up pretty quickly. There were six people. Six people, in our room, having no idea really what's going on. There was a Housekeeper Supervisor to make sure that they don't steal anything (um...that's what Housekeeping is for. Shampoo, alcohol, you name it. Although Louis tips his housekeeper handsomely and he says he hasn't had a problem in a long time). It's still summer here. No everyone has access to running water. The room is small. The smell is...well...very unfun.
I'm going through my clothes folding things as I try to explain to them what's wrong with our air conditioner (the main one in the common area is broken as well....but I'm selfish and want to see the one in our room fixed first). I can't understand the Housekeeper Supervisor because her French isn't great, but thankfully a Maintenance Man can speak French and we clear everything up. Now, let me be clear - everyone was SUPER polite, made sure to clean up any footprint or anything that they left....but they had to touch all of our stuff, move things around, move the bed, and...it just left such a distaste in my mouth. It's been awhile since I've had that whole... no privacy/no independence thing...and I just didn't like it.
Housekeeping has a key to our room and comes in even when the "Do Not Disturb" sign is on. I made sure to get everything in place this morning so that everything she needed was outside her room and she wouldn't have to knock (because I wanted to nap), and had the No Molestar sign on...but of course she came in anyways. She is incredibly friendly and nice and it was to help US out, by giving us fresh towels...but the jetlag, the overwhelming outpour of emotions, the feeling of playing hookey, and the extreme change of scenery....well, it just all got to me. Lots of crying.
Oh - to top it off, my suitcases arrived (yay!!) and Serge (one of my favorite people here. He's been Louis' driver since I've known him and he's soooo sweet) dropped them off at our house. I went through my suitcases and I bought 2 of these super incredibly amazing cool chocolate things for 2 ex-employees that I'll see this week. It's a chocolate chicken, and inside the chicken there is an egg, and inside the egg there are smarties. Well, one was stolen completely, and the other one was smashed into bits and half eaten. So I have meltey-ish chocolate on a lot of my clothes and I was like, (major overreaction) devastated that I wouldn't have my gifts to give to my friends/ex-employees. The stupid things were like $5 each...it's not that it's the end of the world...but it just upset me because I'm crazy jetlagged and overwhelmed and...well...it's only day 2.5 so I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, but it's weird being here.
So this afternoon's plan is to try and have a nap so that I don't burst into tears if I step on a bug or something, then maybe walk on the treadmill (I worked out hard yesterday and my legs are sore and could use a stretch), and for certain hit up the pool. I found a bunch of good (trashy) books that I want to re-read.
For some reason I can't access Facebook (it's blocked here during working hours but I can't get it at all), or any other social media, so I can't upload the pictures that I took yesterday in town. They aren't terribly exciting, but after being away for a year...I find them pretty interesting.
Ok. Massive fall-apart rant over. Tonight there is a yoga class on-site (which I still find amazing and extremely impressive) and Louis is supposed to have a band practice. I hope he'll have as an amazing going away party as I did. There are some kinks already, but Louis is super creative (he was the best party planner and wedding planner EVER in the past) and hopefully I can rally and help out.
Next time, I hope to have real internet, put up some pictures, and not be in weepy-jet-lag mode!
Sending positive thoughts back home to my family. xo