Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beige--the Color of My Adventure

"Oh, Lisa, why so beige?"

I'm standing in the bathroom at the hotel in town where I'll catch my shuttle to Nairobi and OH MY GOODNESS, I'm totally beige! I'm wearing a light brown t-shirt and skirt, which both kind of weirdly match my hair and skin. I've never noticed before that i look all one color. I glance down and see my black sandals. Phew! I've broken up the beigeness with a bold and daring... black? Boring. I am one big blob of medium bland. But maybe that's not so bad. As my dear Mindy has famously said before, "Might as well start out with khaki in Africa because it will all be khaki soon enough."

Well, the bus ride unfolds into 6 hours of travel, alternating between a few scenarios. We have bumps and potholes. We have crazy lorries that we have to swerve away from. We have the counter-swerve to keep us on the road after we miss the lorry. We have the clouds of dust that are billowing through the bus, and the tourists who are yelling at people to close their windows. We have the stifling heat when the windows are closed too long and the tourists who are now instructing people to open their windows. Bossy tourists, I note. We have the shady characters who want to change my money at the border. We have the tired looking customs officials whom I don't want to cross.

We have quite a lot going on.

Besides all this, we have the growing panic in my chest that this might finally be the trip when I do actually miss my plane because the shuttle is taking longer and longer these days. We have my desperate repetitive and somewhat ridiculous prayers asking the Lord to get me there and to chill me out.

I would have liked to listen to music but ha ha! I can't see what's written on the tiny screen of my iPod when I can't hold the thing anywhere close to still. I opt to just observe my fellow travelers and fret a little.

Did I already mention it was 6 hours of this?

So, we get there... The lovely Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In time, too. I pull off my dusty sandals and change into proper closed toe shoes for (cold) England. I stuff the Chacos into my case as I wait to check in.

Through security and upstairs, I make my way to the cafe. A large cup of hot Kenyan tea soothes and comforts and I feel better, even in the crowded and stuffy departure area. I'm here.

OK, we're going to have to clean up a little. In the ladies room, I find that my comb can't actually get through my (beige) hair. It's crusted over... Become crunchy with the sweat and frequent powderings of dust. I kind of scrape the comb around a little and clip my hair up again. Crunch, crunch. I pull on jeans and shove my skirt in my carry-on.

I'll wash my face--even though the signs tell me to only wash my hands. The attendant is there, annoyed with some women in long burkhas who don't know how to flush the loos. It's not their fault. It's not her fault. And we don't need to be annoyed. I wash my face anyway, figuring it's pretty obvious I'm not preparing for prayers and I'm not going to splash everywhere.

I also wash my sunglasses which are black, but are covered in a thick coat of beige. However did that happen?

I'm finally on-board and we're taking off around midnight. I usually like the chance to watch some films I haven't seen. I like to clean out my in-box and maybe read. But no, not tonight.

I'm out. I wake up for a few mins to eat dinner and then again for my breakfast. The nice steward is serving me tea and it's not as good or as hot as my Kenyan brew last night, but that's ok. I've got Houston's Three Feet From Gold on my headphones and I'm soon going to land in London. I'll have time to shower and pop round to the shops before making some final notes for my teaching time that night.

I come to a pleasant little realization. I really love my friends in 24-7. Why else would I put myself through this? :-)


Pellava Smith said...

Thank you Lisa for travelling,
it was so lovely and inspiring
to have you talk to us
and spend time with us "boarders"
last week!


lisa said...

It was a pleasure, Ella! xx

Jenelle said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the recounting of this story. (Particularly the crunchy hair part.) But I do wish those shuttle rides would be less ridiculously frightening.

Sue said...

Oh, Lisa, you are so very cute, even in beige! Wishing I had been in London catching your teaching talks and prayers. :)

Abril said...

i can't imagine getting on a plane for that long after a ride like that. makes the hour jaunt on the metro look a bit ridiculous! although, i have to admit I would still like to experience it if meant we got to come hang out with all of you :)