I think about my life in Africa every day.
Until this afternoon, I had thought about whether I had overreacted last year. I was miserable at the 'w' place. I felt suffocated and alone, my Headmaster unable to support me and working with some awful people. In my eyes I was unappreciated and undervalued.
I say, until today I thought I had overreacted, because today I had a meeting with my Headteacher about a recent observation, my target setting and my ongoing professional development.
This year my Head recognised all my strengths and made me feel like a valued and experience member of staff. He encouraged me to make my own targets that I want to work towards.Doesn't sound anything amazing. That is what he should do as a leader. But last year I worked with crazy people. I still find it hard to believe some of the stuff that happened to be honest.
I really did have a very tough year professionally last year in Kenya. This year I have slept soundly ever. single. night. I work hard, but I leave it all behind me. It really was a horrid work experience last year but because I loved so much of my life in East Africa it made the decision to leave such a hard one.
Even though I made the right decision for me at that time, it doesn't mean I don't ache for some of my old life.
I miss Africa.
A general statement, but there is no other way to say it.
I think about the children in my 'the-most-amazing-class-that-I-have-ever-taught' and I still hear them laughing and chatting, putting the world to right. I see them racing out the door to swimming, coming back for their tennis racket , swapping it for a hockey stick for the next period,waving goodbye at the end of the day...
My whole being misses Africa, my ears, my eyes, my heart; life can be dull here in the sandpit.
I think about my drive to and from work. The best commute ever, through the valleys that used to grow coffee, but are now scattered with a few houses. Me, driving home in my Surf, with my music turned up loud, avoiding the men on their bicycles and dodging matatus.Stopping by for cheap-cheap flowers, just because.
I miss arriving home to Coco the dog and Sam (my eskari) opening the gate with big smiles and greetings...it makes coming home to an apartment by yourself a very quiet experience.
I try not to think about it too much at night (or when I am drinking gin!). My memories are like wounds then. The blood will come as tears if they are picked at. I've left. I shouldn't go back, not there anyway, should I? I've gone back before, I'm doing it now. It is not any easier than starting again in lots of ways. I should try somewhere else. Best to share memories with friends in the sunshine.
I miss my yoga buddies, my runs in the forest, drinks in the sunshine, hair full of dust and high-altitude-bronzed skin (or dirt...you'll never know!), pretty much everything.
This sounds like I am very blue and melancholic. I'm not. The opportunities that I have for holidays and adventures are more for living in Kuwait. I have achieved more in my running since I have been in Kuwait and I am grateful for having buddies here that got me through my 2 marathons and 1 half marathon since January 25th. Life is good. But there is no forgetting that I live in a sandpit. It is 2D. And...it can be pretty boring when there is always power and water...and we are hardly going to run out of fuel..! We want for nothing here. You may have to pay extra for it (yes- that hybrid bike is really £200 more here than in the UK) but if you want it, you can have it. Droughts haven't effected the butter stock in the supermarket, seasons don't effect the availability of imported blueberries, my tomatoes are always round and you are NEVER far from a Starbucks. It is not really 'living' is it?
I even find it hard to write about life in Kuwait. What should I write about? Did you hear of the news of a Kuwaiti Tweeter was jailed recently for insulting the Amir, he recieved a 5 year sentence. Big brother is out here.
I was going to write about my 10km race in Bahrain, which I did hungover, slightly drunk from the hair that followed and a little wobbly after dancing on tables the night before...I got 1 hour dead. I was just pleased for starting and then I managed to get a PB. I did it because I had amazing friends waiting for me at the finish. Friends that said, 'We are leaving after an hour, so if you don't run fast you have to find your own way home!' Love them!
One of my friends actually said, 'That is not Robyn, she is running too fast!" Haaaaa.
On a weekend visit to Bahrain recently, I was thinking of the people that I choose to surround myself with. Most are adventurous and athletic, fun and generous (and obviously very supportive!). There words inspire me and want me to be my best. And most of them have memories of happy times in Africa. There was a moment where the group bantered in Swahili with the waiter, making his eyes light up and our spirits soar.We swap stories over coffee, or pizza, beer and one to many margaritas, time and time again. Just because, as one friend said to me, 'I know'.
We don't get bored of talking about that time we got three punctures on the way to Ishasha, or sigh hearing about when your Landy pulled out a safari truck from the mud.
My friends and I share memories like water to a thirsty traveller. The listeners lap up every word, savouring them so the moments last longer and then we are all transported back to our Africa. That is what you call a low-cost airline.
Word is out about a new school opening up in Fort Portal, Uganda. (I am booking my place for the future!) If you know (first hand) of a wonderful school in Africa (preferably in East Africa...but I am open to options), can you email me or leave me a comment. Thank you!!
(P.S. I started to write this post a few months ago...it has taken me a while to find the words and load the pictures! I now have wireless internet, making my 2D life a bit more colourful and stimulating!)