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Coming Home

August 27, 2010

So our flight is booked for Sunday 12th September. It’s a night flight with BA so we’ll be arriving home early Monday, the day before Alfie’s birthday.
I’m looking forward to it but I also have mixed feelings. Now it’s imminent, I’m actually sad our adventure here is coming to a close. I find it hard to imagine being back at no 19 where I can simply walk out the door and stroll around safely. Not have to make sure all the windows and doors are closed so that the monkeys can’t get in (to be fair, we don’t worry about monkeys in Nairobi, only when we are elsewhere but it quickly becomes a habit). Of course making sure everything is triple locked is a way of life here. I do wonder what would happen if there was a fire when there are grilles on all the windows and doors, the main ones of which are latched with a padlock for extra protection. Doesn’t bear thinking about. I shan’t miss the traffic. Or the random public holidays; on Friday they “promulgated the constitution” here and invited all of Africa’s great and good to come and take part. So of course they closed all the main roads in the city from Wednesday onwards for rehearsals. Eh? I mean can you imagine closing Trafalgar Square for 3 days with only a few hours notice? Random, as is so much else here in Kenya.
I will definitely miss Pamela as will Alfie, heaps and heaps. How to explain to a one year old when people simply appear and disappear out of his life? And the fact that we can eat out and eat well as often as we like. (Not sure I mentioned this but fillet steak is the cheapest cut here and even the most unassuming cafes make delicious bread and fantastic salads.)

I’m slightly dreading being back and having to keep house and look after Alfie without help. It does make such a difference being able to sit down and write this at leisure, for example. Though I feel I would have achieved a lot more if the bloody internet connection wasn’t so appalling. That drives me mad, as does the traffic. But the people are lovely, friendly, helpful and interested. And so fabulous with Alfie; he beams with delight when he sees the askari for example, who spends patient hours helping him to walk around the car park and even, oh treats of treats, lets him play with the padlocks and bolts on the gate now and again. (Another obsession of Alfie’s at the moment).

I think what I love about Kenya is the obvious mix of ‘primitive’ and ‘civilisation’. It’s everywhere you look and most poignantly displayed on the roads. Miles of pockmarked tarmac with gleaming 4×4’s and heaps of people patiently walking to work alongside it. Black tarmac, red, red soil and silver bright Pajero’s. Speeding muzungu (white person) or mehindi (Indians) and poor, disabled, blind, begging blacks. Or the stereotypical Kenyan out for a quick buck, selling anything from the paper to their grandmother. All available and visible on the streets every day, every hour.

And there is such an air of possibility here. I guess a little like a newly minted nation, which in some ways Kenya is. That indefinable something that gives you confidence that you can achieve what you want, because anything is possible. And they do say; if you can’t buy it you can have it made. Which is also true.

And I do feel that 2 months is a funny time to be away. Too long for an extended holiday yet not long enough to invest in people, places and things. Kind of in limbo. But it’s given me a good insight into what life could be like living abroad and I must say I like it. I don’t think it would suit everyone but I’m a ‘joiner’; happy to join groups doing anything from childcare to adult learning, dancing to gossip and determined to make myself useful. My voluntary work has opened my eyes to all sorts of insights for example, more of which in another blog entry.
So every day I find something to miss, and something to be glad to be rid of! I can’t wait to come home and tell you all about it in person and only hope I can remember it all. Best of all, Alfie seems to have had a ball and has met such a variety of people and had such adventures; we’ve really come together as a family and he is developing at a rapid pace. Of course this would have happened at home as well, but it does feel special being able to introduce him to animals that, for example, we sing about and play with and watch on TV every day. (Has anyone else noticed how many elephants and giraffe and lions are part of children’s rhymes and stories?)

So our adventure is coming to an end for now. But at least we know we can do it and despite an initial settling in period (inevitably) the opportunity to live in another country is fantastically exciting and full of excitement and fun. What’s not to like?

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