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Monday, 29 December 2014

Kenya

Perhaps you have noticed - or not - but I quite often refer to Kenya. Until 2012 I had never ever been in Africa as it somehow scared me. It is probably the usual scare for the unknown. I did however visit Tunisia and Morocco but never felt being in Africa. I tend to associate Africa with black people.

Early 2012 we were looking for a vacation destination. One of the few affordable destinations was Mombassa, Kenya. I somehow recall my surprise regarding the name Mombassa. I had never known to what country that place actually belonged to. So Kenya it was.

The trip had a Nairobi stop-over where we had to transfer from the international airport to the domestic one. I still remember the warmth that felt like a blanket. I also remember my tourist attitude as I was scared being ripped off. The people were just smiling and saying Jambo all the time.....

Late that night we arrived at Bamburi Beach, Mombassa. The ocean breeze felt very refreshing. It was difficult to see anything though. The next morning I was astonished by the sheer beauty of the hotel location. Right on the beach. Seeing camels walking up and down the beach was a shock.

While looking around and feeling the very warm water of the Indian Ocean touching my feet, I received an epiphany: it suddenly occurred to me that I was - finally - at home. I even felt more at home in Kenya than in my Dutch house and home, some 6,000 kilometres away.

The feeling of being at home in Kenya has never left me. Since then my focus has slowly shifted more and more towards Africa. The magnificent BBC documentaries on Africa suddenly felt different and breathtaking. My house now features African art. Not only as a reminder.

During my second visit I went alone. Under protest. I strongly felt that it wasn't wise. Ratio won from emotion however and I went. Alone. And fell in love. Not only with the country. Also with a young woman with whom I had been corresponding for the last 6 months. I didn't want to spend my 3 weeks alone and had invited her to join me as I had no feelings for her anyway.

After arriving at Mombassa airport I couldn't find her despite making 2 or 3 rounds in that small arrivals hall. I only noticed someone sitting and looking at me but whom I didn't recognise at all. Being upset I decided to call her. I didn't like being stood up. While I was angrily handling my phone that beautiful someone timidly asked me: "Are you Leon?" The rest is history.

My second visit to Kenya felt like being in heaven. The beauty of Kenya's nature, the warmth and smiles of the people, the food, and obviously my new found love. My love ended in a multi month heartache but I still strongly feel that it is better to have loved than never at all. I have forgiven her.

To date I haven't been able to secure a job in my beloved Kenya. That does not imply that I will give up on my dream to live and work in Kenya. Not at all.

Karibu Kenya ! Karibu sana.