I started this fellowship down eastern Africa in January 2009. My plan was to spend two months in five different countries, volunteering with a range of organizations on a range of appropriate technology projects. With a couple brief hiatuses, I’ve stuck to my two-month schedule.

Last week, I broke it. After only one month in Malawi, I decided to leave.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I don’t think that one month is enough time in a place. But neither is two months, for that matter. I was just beginning to find a rhythm in Lilongwe; I had recently met a number of interesting people that I was sad to leave before getting to know them better; and I even found rock climbing partners.

But I think that leaving was the right decision for me. I first packed up my backpack in June 2008, and I’m worn out. My project – working on a survey from Lilongwe’s suburbia comforts with only a few short field visits mixed in – was not my favorite (I am starting to doubt the usefulness of many surveys). Plus, I felt like too much energy in the project was expended on working with people who did not work well together. I found myself constantly irritable and frustrated, and all I want now is a chance to rest in a more familiar setting.

I will spend the next three weeks recuperating and working on some side projects in Arusha, followed by a week-long project in Kenya. Then I’m off to Lusaka, Zambia, for my final project.

I think this short break is exactly what I’ll need to keep me energized for the last leg of my journey.

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