Sometimes I just have to get off the continent. You know how it is. It can all just get a bit much: the big skies, the open space, these things that I love but can loathe in equal measure. Here life is chaotic and colourful, it can be wild and intense. Maybe it’s the intensity that does it, makes you yearn for things that are just, well, normal. Not that we don’t have that too, life here is not so different from anywhere else...it just seems bigger. It can make you feel so blissful; the little things like driving through a ‘migration’ of butterflies, literally thousands of them crossing the road for about an hour. Sitting in the garden with J the other night watching a “Wolf’s Moon” that rises up by the mountain, over-bright and full, chilly by now and shivery but the wine tastes so damned good and you just can’t go back inside. Chucking our bedrolls into the car and going to camp out in the bush on the western side of the mountain. We drive for hours, looking for a good tree and a good view, set up camp when we hear the sound of elephants rumbling not so far away. J sees birds that he’s never seen before, that makes him happy. I smile, yup this is what it’s meant to be.
It can also sometimes knock the stuffing out of you.
So I fly away. I go back to England and the minute the plane lifts off, wheels up from the tarmac at Kilimanjaro International Airport (grand name for a small airport, did you know that it’s actually the alternate landing strip for the Space Shuttle? I hope it’s true), I take a deep breath. The possibilities over the next weeks are endless: café lunches and bookstore browsing, and the joys of supermarkets where you can buy anything; gas that comes out of the wall into the back of your cooker, and lights that come on all the time. Walking outside barefoot in the grass without worrying about treading on something nasty, seeing friends, family, people I love.
But at some point, usually after about 10 days, I start to get a bit edgy. I’m on a London street and I look up at the sky, only I can’t see it...too many blasted skyscrapers in every direction. I miss not hearing the rain on our tin roof (remind me of that when I’m here, and it’s so loud I can’t sleep), I miss the smell of the new rain on dry earth...anyone who has smelled that will know exactly what I mean. I miss the person that I am when I’m here.
I land back at Kilimanjaro early evening and disembark, sometimes the heat and the humidity can be like walking into a wet blanket. But as we start climbing up into the foothills, windows down and fresh cool air pouring in, I smell what I miss most...wood smoke and damp vegetation, the coffee bushes are all around and the mountain rises way up over me...it feels good to be back.
When this is posted Thursday morning I shall be on a plane en route to Zambia. Back in a week. Have a good one....safari njema.