Odd, isn't it? Being somewhere utterly familiar after a long time away. I wandered around the house for a week, clicking on random machines and turning on taps, just to see water flow and electricity come on. My mother followed after me, annoyed I was turning on a half-empty dishwasher or playing six CD's on random just because I could. I was amazed to find I had a wardrobe, and spent a great afternoon staggering around in four-inch heels like a six-year-old. Doing laundry was a simple task of putting things in a machine, and whoops, out they would come, an hour later, almost dry and cleaner they'd been in nine months. The fridge had exciting stuff, like food, in it. I had music, books, free internet (broadband!) and it was all so easy. So easy, in fact, that it's no longer fun.
One of the brilliant things about travelling is how the small things make it all worthwhile. One of my favourite things is to wander through supermarkets, seeing what people load in their carts, and marvelling at things like Monkey Gland Sauce and Beef-Beer powder. Like in France, you get aisles and aisles of cheeses; in Argentina, the meat counter is monsterous, but no one's ever heard of tofu. In the States, you can find a frozen version of everything; ini Zambia, everything is made out of maize- drinks, crisps, bread, sweets. In Finland, you find the bread section takes up half of the supermarket. There's four things you are likely find in any Finn's shopping cart- bread, milk, potatoes and beer. Possibly a cider if it's a girl. And chocolate if it's me.
Everything is too simple. I no longer have to look at a map to find the post office nor do I need to do quick currency conversions to find out if something is cheap or laughable. There's no edge in anything. And, in a way, I suddenly find all this spending incredible- yes, I know, a fairly normal side effect of coming back from a working stint in a developing country, but oh so true. Inexplicably, I'm suddenly saving 2 three-week old shrivelled potatoes telling my stunned family that they're still "perfectly edible". My niece and nephew are drowning in toys they don't even play with, whilst every single auntie and uncle brings in yet another red fire truck or a pooping and peeing doll. And I think of my little Zambian kids, who have no toys, and who got excited when I gave them pens and pieces of my notepad to draw on. Although kids are wonderful like that- I asked my nephew what he would like for his birthday, and after thinking a little, he said he'd like to go for a picnic in the forest with me and granny. Now this kid would get on in Zambia.
I also have way too much energy. I should be sightseeing, catching buses, walking around hot and humid city centres and getting lost. This is not the way it's meant to be. Bring back Africa. Or Somewhere Else. Anywhere.