It seems appropriate that my last day here would have a light drizzle of rain. The air is cool as I wake up and shower for the last time. The last shower in the showers with only two options, really hot or cold, depending on if the fire has been burning under the water tanks they use.
Most of my stuff was packed the previous night, so I get up and put some finishing touches on the photo-book I signed up to do with my pictures. Supposedly they are going to use it at the store in the lodge, but my guess is it will be filed away with the other photographer pictures. I roll my bag out of my little room for the last time and set up the POS Mac they had me using and pulled up my project. Nothing much more needed, just adjusting some text and tweaking the framing, as a few of the girls who are leaving at the same time as me begin to roll out of their room with continued comments on the appropriateness of the weather, before the five of us load into the van that will be driving us back to the airport in Harare.
We start off chatting about the first foods we will have upon returning home, at having lost interest in the good yet repetitive meals we have been provided with while at the park. Two of the girls I’m riding with are from London, and one is discussing all the money she is going to make at selling the cheap cigarettes she has stocked up on and planned to resell back home. Another talks about her next destination. And the German couple more or less keep to themselves. The driver occasional talks to us all at various points as we do him, as we roll through each police checkpoint and ask him questions about why there are so many. Mostly, we find out they are a way for the local police forces to pay the bills. A joke we make as we pass one with a relatively new BMW painted with a police logo on the side.
The food provided is a bagged meal, full of sandwiches, fruit, and juices. The conversations slowly end, as we nap or listen to our iPods the remainder of the ride, before being dropped off at the airport. We hug, say goodbye, and the usual let’s keep in touch, even though we probably won’t do anything other than friend each other on Facebook.
After the goodbyes, it’s back through security in the small airport before boarding the plane to South Africa, then to London, and to Frankfurt, then Denver, Colorado, before finally arriving at back in the beautiful cool weather of Seattle where a buddy was waiting to take me for my first post Africa meal. Two cheeseburgers, an order of fries, and a strawberry milkshake from Dick’s Drive-In.