Malawi MapI’m back from Africa — physically, at least.

Mentally, I’m still floating somewhere over Dakar. The potent combination of jetlag and unprocessed emotion is making it very difficult to commit to that last leap over the Atlantic. I was only gone two weeks, but it felt like months. Like an alternate timeline, with extra days slipped between seconds.

Like Narnia, but with smoke, orphans, and red dirt.

It’s not that time dragged. Every minute was full, from the dark blue hour before sunrise when the overachieving rooster would start his business, to the hour after dinner, when a casual conversation with the program founder would reveal an unexpected, mind-blowing twist. For the first time in 15 years, I wore a watch, only to look at it in amazement as I went to bed at 7:30, exhausted.

At least twice each day, as Ryan and I were painting a mud brick wall Bermuda blue, we would look to each other and say, “Hey, do you remember when…”

Inevitably, we were referring to something that had happened just the day before.

Like all great trips, so much had happened so fast that it became difficult to keep events straight. More than that, the Now was so overwhelming, so emotionally dangerous, that there wasn’t an opportunity to process. I’ve never kept a journal, but for the first time I found myself making bullet points of the day’s events, just to clear them off my mental blotter. Like a to-do list in reverse.

I’m working to get photos up on Flickr, but in the meantime, I’ll offer one short video clip. No single example is going to sum up the whole experience, but this gives some sense of why I’m still somewhat stuck in Malawi.