Happy Valentine’s Day to all the wonderful men in my life – Dad, my sons, Igor, Josh, Chapsie and other friends who have helped or protected me one way or another. How related we all are. My perspective has shifted.
We have arrived in Mombasa on the bus and it’s about to cross on the ferry. I was very pleased to have Chaps at the border, though all the Tanzanian and Kenya border police were fine about our recently wet, smudgy passports and visas.
They made us all get off the bus while it went on the ferry, a few minutes ago, but then the busman told Chaps to put me back on for safety. Apparently the thieves are a bit crazy atm here.
I admit to feeling a moment of intense panic at being separated from him. What has happened to my usual insoucient self sufficiency?
I feel I am in some kind of no man’s land. I’m looking forward to seeing my family but I don’t want to leave Africa. The way of life here, the love people show for each other, it all wraps around one’s spirit and a sense of pervasive well being envelops me here. I found it hard to say goodbye to Josh and Bernie this morning, and sad Michele and the girls weren’t there. Such lovely people I’ve met here.
I recognise my life at home for what it is. A never ending treadmill of pleasing society. Material objects, bills, others’ expectations, questionable necessities, trying to make time for the ones we love.
I find I no longer want that. I want joy and peace, love and laughter, time…. Am I dreaming? Perhaps.
I have been given a second chance. I need to consider what I want to do with my future. One thing is certain – it is not what I’ve been doing.
I’ve just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. Loved it. There’s a wonderful exert from The Oddessey at the end.
“Now from his breast into his eyes the ache of longing mounted, and he wept at last, his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms, longed for as the sun warmed earth is longed for by a swimmer spent in rough water where his ship went down under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea. Few men can keep alive through a big surf to crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches in joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind: and so she too rejoiced, her gaze upon her husband, her white arms round him pressed as though forever.”
Appropriate really. Karibu, Chaps. Welcome home.
Tuesday 16th February – It’s 0630 and Chaps and Samira are just taking her family to the bus for the long trip to back to Dar es Salaam and Mafia Island. They had planned on coming to Lamu with us but Kenya has changed its rules and their temporary travel papers are invalid.
Yesterday morning I was woken to Samira tapping on my door. She, Sauda, a friend of hers, her Dad and two other religious guys had arrived to join us in the night. It was so good to see her again. We spent the day with some of Chaps very large family! His younger brother, Muhammad, and sister, Zahra, both speak English so it was easier for me than I expected. Muhammad especially talked with me a lot and seemed to appoint himself my guardian!! A sweet young man, and father of four!!
These religious teacher guys, I don’t really know exactly what they are, and Samira’s Dad, led a prayer service in remembrance of Ali. I didn’t understand the words of course but found it very difficult and upsetting. More to come in Lamu, I suspect. They asked if I wanted to say a few words, which Chaps tells me was a sign of respect. I did, and Samira translated.
I feel very guilt laden; that we didn’t get Ali home, that it’s me here and not him. I know it’s illogical and that we did our damnedest to save him, but this worm is still in my brain, making me want to cry, and upsetting Chaps in the process. He tells me everyone has huge respect for me, a woman surviving when the man did not. And I see that in their reactions to our story, but I still feel guilty.
We went with Samira to the optometrist as well. He was a character. Asked about my face and got the whole story. He was so astounded he pulled it straight up on the Internet!! He gave Samira a big discount and, upon my mentioning Chaps’ sunglasses were at the bottom of the sea, gave him free choice of the shop!!
Samira is the bargaining guru. She’s a joy to watch. She asks the price and it’s barely been uttered and she’s waving a regal finger in the vendor’s face saying “No, no, no. Do not tell me this!” before reviewing the price continuously downwards, then walking off. I don’t even try if I have her with me!! Her grandfather is a Chief and her husband mzungu, so she carries it off with absolute aplomb.
0835 – Just passing through Kalifi. Saw the supermarket I bought my pillow and sheets from when I first arrived. Josh hadn’t even cleaned the sheet on the bed for me so I got myself new stuff. Then when I returned, Linsay had moved my clothes out of the room and taken over my pillow and sheets which I’d left clean for my return. Another reason I got Chaps and I rooms at the hotel. No respect.
1340 – We are standing on the road side under a small acacia tree while the driver tries to fix the brakes on the van. Great!! They’re stuck apparently. I did think I could smell a rubbery burning smell, but as everyone burns their rubbish on the road side, I hadn’t thought too much of it.
We’re about 100kms from Lamu but it’s a dirt road and the police put checks every five minutes. They’re so bloody corrupt it’s incredible.
Two hours later and the end is in sight, bumpity bump.
I shamelessly took off my sunglasses and used the blue eyes and blond hair on the last bunch of cops. Got us through in record time too. Samira and I had a giggle over that routine!! Works all over the world, lol.
This cop, Peter, solemnly informed me I must feel so safe seeing him and his colleagues everywhere. Also that he’d be at that checkpoint for the foreseeable future should I wish to see him. I was actually more intrigued with the C19 they had set up on its tripod by the truck. God knows why they’d need one of those for their job!! Useless weapon.