September 23, 2013

Day 24 (smoke that thunders)

*As I type this, the hostage situation in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi is ongoing.  Halfway across the world, sitting in my new San Francisco apartment, far (in time and space) from everyone I knew in that life, it's been an intense weekend.  I feel lucky that my people are all reported to be safe.  I feel pain for those who didn't share that luck.  And, overall, I feel a deep sorrow for the way life will change for everyone in Kenya.  I went to Westgate to watch the new James Bond movie on a first date.  I went there my last week in town for goodbye drinks.  People are sharing this article as a reflection of how it feels to see this tragedy happen in our home.  This is one of those moments that becomes a defining line between the way things were and the way things will be from now on.  A "pre-9/11" type of colloquialism.  But this blog is not a platform, and I'll now return to the scheduled program while the rest of history unfolds itself:

Victoria Falls, arriving at the place I've been heading.

Photo credit: Irina Chernetskaya

Photo credit: Irina Chernetskaya

From the journal: As I write this, I'm sitting, finishing lunch and tea, at the Victoria Falls Hotel- where I likely would have stayed with a friend if he had flown out to join me, back when I put out the RFP in Swakopmund.   The patio overlooks the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and provides a view of the mist from the falls rising up above the gorge.  It looks almost like smoke from a massive fire.  Which well befits the Zimbabwe bumper stickers that read "smoke that thunders."

Smoky view from high tea

I've now been camping for 21 days, punctuated by a few scattered nights in hostels.  This is the half-way point back up to Nairobi, and the "nearly-there" mark on my way out of Africa.  Like a VIP, I'm treating myself to an expensive high-tea afternoon at the hotel.  Lunch included a side salad with edible flowers and a man asking the chef to make a special, sugar-free dessert for his wife.  To all be filed (or hashtagged) under the things we do to feel back to life as real human beings.  

I'm fancy.  And also hiding from people.  

We rolled into "town" yesterday afternoon, after which I spent nearly 4 hours, $30 on phone credit, and ran around to at least 3 different internet cafes trying to interview for a job in San Francisco.  

Vic Falls, the town.  Warthog on sidewalk.  I passed him multiple times during this job interview.

This morning, I finally went down to the Falls, expecting a tranquil bench from which to sit and meditate on the beauty of nature, or perhaps read a book.  Instead, it's an adrenaline-filled walk as you swath yourself in a plastic tarp rain coat and try to avoid spots of deluge.  The falls crash so violently into the river below that mist falls as heavily as a true tropical rainstorm.  




Vic Falls.

My camera shut down in water-logged protest about half-way through the walk, disabling my ability to record for posterity the most beautiful double rainbow I've ever seen, over a cliff-backed pool in the Zambezi gorge.  But, of course, it was all beautiful, and I remain the luckiest person I could have ever imagined becoming.  

Photo credit: Irina Chernetskaya

As a half-way point, Victoria Falls was a psychological mindswirl.  Many of our overlanding crew (including most people I knew and liked) left the team, and others joined.  New truck, new team leader, new crew, new seatmate.  As a self-identify resistor of change, such wealth of newness sunk me into some halfway blues, a low reflective of the Falls' high.

Gazing down into the swirling abyss.  

The halfway blues.  Yes, I'm pretty sure that's a real thing.  As is the patience and understanding of other good people who let me experience my wallow without judgement.  Thanks for that.  

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