19.05.2009 - 25.05.2009
Home is a funny thing. To me, home is where my hair straightener lives. So currently, home is my friend Marianne's shed in Buckinghamshire. However, when you spend long enough travelling, home becomes any place where you spend longer than two nights. My home, it seems, was Nairobi.
I'd spent the last few weeks going in and out of the same hostel, leaving my big bag full of fabrics, woven baskets, earrings and other stuff which I'll store immediately into Marianne's shed when I'm back in the UK and forget about it, in the hostel cupboard. I knew the staff, the best time to get a hot shower (never), and exactly how much a taxi would cost to whichever part of Nairobi I was going to. And apart from seeing some real-life Freds (giraffes to those not in the know), I really did very little. Nairobi is not an unpleasant city; it is completely functionable, the main CBD is all wide roads and even a bit of greenery. It doesn't have much in terms of eiffeltowers and colosseums, but it serves its purpose well and I liked it. Mainly because it wasn't Lusaka.
As I happened to be travelling with someone slightly sick, and ill for that matter as well, my last days were spent in Arusha, Tanzania, simply because it was close enough, and it wasn't Nairobi. I'd planned on a lot of things- a trip to the Serengeti to see the migration of hundreds of antelopes, zebra and suchlike, to climb the Kilimanjaro (yes, I know, me climb Kilimanjaro- ha ha ha, but I was certainly up for trying). Unfortunately, a quick peek at my bank balance put such silly thoughts out of my head, and considering I spend most of the time with a cold, it wasn't so bad.
The hostel in Arusha was something I'd want my hostel to one day be like- warm, welcoming and full of people. Mainly volunteers, everyone there was a fairly long-term resident, and they immediately took us in as one of them. I spent a happy few days doing not much but haggling in the market (more baskets and bowls- I really need to marry very well if I plan on a house big enough to display all this stuff) and going out with a eclectic bunch of people- six Julliard students, all incredibly talented and sweet- five gay guys and poor Megan. Erin, an Aussie girl, Harry, a very extrovert Brit, Sarah Jessica Parker -lookalike Jenna, and a random collection of people who we picked up along the way. It was a fun night- especially when a very drunken British guy came over and told me, as I was chatting to Jenna, Collin, Evan and Jordan that all my friends were incredibly good looking (Noted: all my friends. Must start wearing makeup.)
Another dusty bus ride later, and we were back in my hostel-home, for the last time. I tried hard to miss my flight- a few minutes before the taxi arrived, we were still sitting in the local pub with another long-term Nairobi resident, Andrew, and I had my last Tusker, feeling sad. I hoped we would run into terrible traffic, or my flight would be cancelled until further notice, the airport was closed for security purposes or my ankle would break. Something. Anything. And of course, nothing did, and nine months after I'd left, unwillingly, for Zambia, I was yet at another airport, thinking about life, love and geography, and how it all goes. Funny that.