Saturday, December 16, 2006

Leaving Nairobi



There is a sense of the jungle here. There are strange green plants everywhere; a riot really, the vines revolting against the notion of crisp hedges and curling, tangling, winding, vying for light and air, reaching furiously for the blue, blue sky. Every building is surrounded by a wall, though walls alone are not enough to keep out intruders. The wall tops are laced with razor wire, electric fencing and occasionally lined with broken bottle fragments. They are sadly beautiful, with brown and green fragments of bottles that used to hold beer or wine or soda now made into something gruesome and mean. And everywhere these vicious walls are being overtaken by bougainvillea and hyacinth plants, (those being two I can identify), then the others, the numerous others, all writhing and curling and twisting with life and violent colorful blooms. It is a spectacular cacophony of life in the midst of a sad and decayed city.

Nothing stands quite upright and the paint is peeling on every fa├žade. Ramshackle, haphazard, slanting, half finished buildings stand lazy and dusty in the sun. There are tin roofs and tilting chain link fences around every bend. The iron rods intended for support remain standing at attention, stretching for a height these buildings will never reach. And at some point the contractors just gave in, and even put on a roof, but left these rods there reaching for something else.

But I can see what Africa does to people and why it is seductive; I can feel my magic coming back. And that is a relief ; it was easily lost for me in the grind of cold and darkness and routine. I can’t imagine wanting to live away from home forever, but travel does offer perspectives that are impossible to attain while burdened by what you have always known. Here, everything is unexpected. Things that seem usual, are,upon closer inspection, quite unusual. And I am meeting people who interpret this world totally differently. It is amazing.

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