One time, probably in Livingstone but it could have been elsewhere, I ordered two glasses of wine from the hostel bar, and as the bloke behind the counter corked the Merlot, I plonked Fred on the bar stool next to me, and placed the other glass infront of him. Like I always do. A German girl and a guy with a strange accent eyed me, first with suspicion, then with amusement bordering on worry. Why did this weird girl have an inflatable giraffe with her?
Well, excuse me. Fred is, in deed, an inflatable giraffe, but not only an inflatable giraffe. He is, actually, a wine-loving, gay zambian alcoholic albino giraffe (inflatable). And if I could've had a penny everytime someone asked me "what's the deal with that giraffe?", I'd still be in Africa, wandering happily around the savanna and being quite a wealthy woman.
Fred was purchased from a very posh toy store in Lusaka. I saw him in the display window, and it was love at first sight. My friend Hanna was with me when I announced that I simply had to get that giraffe. He was not cheap (quality giraffes nowadays don't come cheap) but anyway, he has provided me with hours of fun. Not like that. Obviously. I said he was gay.
Fred was officially first blown up on the day before Christmas, in Livingstonia in Malawi, high up in the mountains where no giraffe has ever gone before. He quickly developed a taste for red wine, which we supplied to him in vast quantaties, since it was, after all, Christmas. Since then, it's become a bit of a habit. He danced with the owner of the campsite, and almost melted by the fire, passing out before he could reach the tent that night. It was one heck of a way of coming into the world, I tell you.
Why he is named Fred is a bit of a mystery. He looked like a Fred, and I wanted a name that was simple and easy and would work pretty well in Finnish as well as English. He is gay, because, well, he is. He didn't choose so; it was the way the people in Taiwan manufactured him. As for being an albino, we're going through the motions of anger, denial, bargening, depression and acceptance. He is doing very well.
As for the mystery reason of travelling with an inflatable giraffe, there are none. I liked him, and he provides me with amusement when I'm bored- I can dress him up in clothes or take funny pictures of him (although my mum did note that it might be time to have a baby), and he is a fantastic ice breaker in conversations. Forget a hippo in the room- giraffes are the way to go!
So far, Fred has made tons of friends from all corners of the world, and is happy to chat to anyone about his travels, as long as you buy him a glass of wine to keep him going. He can tell you about his experiences sandboarding, playing in a band, scuba diving or meeting other, non-albino, giraffes. He's been in trains, planes, cars and minibuses, and even been involved in a police matter (although I will not divulge the details here). And, for some reason, whenever people meet him, their instinct is to do something less pretty to him. Hmm. I can grant access to the private photo gallery on request.
Fred is currently taking a break from travelling and living in a big house in the countryside of Finland with a nice family. He is planning on doing hiking in Lapland this summer, and returning to Africa a bit later on this year, via London and Copenhagen. If you see him on your travels, come and say hi. Preferably with a bottle of red wine in hand.