Step off the plane and there is Dan smiling like a fool. I take a deep breath, breath deep the Kenyan sky and let out a small yell. The African sky has been worshiped for all time. Cliché and overused, the rumors hold true and its expanse still moves me. Laughing out loud, Dan grins and says, "it's good to be back on this continent man, I've been jonesin' for some Africa."
Jonesin'. Such an odd phenomenon. Still, the story keeps. I've yet to meet someone who could scrub the dirt of this land out from under their finger nails. Stuck inside it just don't move. And so Dan, like so many of us, is jonesin' for some Africa - like a drug causing my media marketed move too fast cant stop wont stop up down eyes...to pause. And for the first time in nearly a year, see.
Ah yes. The smell. I'd forgotten the smell. You only notice it for the first few days anyway, so my memory of it is long past. It's a smell common to the less developed parts of our world and reviled by the more. It's part of what makes everything here feel more...honest. It's the stench of human beings. Sweaty, smelly, unwashed, undeodorated, unprocessed human, human beings.
Walking in the lounge, there are men scattered like a fifth grade slumber party. Sleeping, lounging, laying, sitting, spread over chairs, tables, counters, couches, under jackets, nets, blankets...
Try try try and I can't imagine my dad, or anyone elses dad, ever sitting like these guys. Once again, I'm keenly aware of the structure of home. Sit up straight, close your mouth, keep your arms by your side, don't talk to strangers, stay by mom, stop asking questions, that's just the way it is, drop it, submit, conform, stay safe. To take a snap shot of JFK and compare it to a shot of Nairobi is to peer deep into the odd divisions from nothing more than foundations.
Coffee is my most immediate craving. Two ten hour flights and either I get caffeine or I collapse next to these men. For two dollars I get a burnt cup of blackness and for another three a premade omellette complete with "spicy and sweet sauce." Scruptuous.
Finishing the omelet, I'm hardly full. Oh yes, now I remember, travel eating. If I'll just a wait fifteen minutes, I'll be full. It's a healthy departure from the pre meal chips, eat every bite, two three sides, fork lowers at the precise moment I can just.eat.no.more. Wait fifteen minutes and I must take deep, satiated breaths. Here it feels just right.
Jonathan comes walking up from the restroom with tired eyes and a wide smile - behind him is the last of our team, Red.
Red, like Dav, is as genuine as they come. His camera pack strapped to his back, tripod in hand, good faded flannel, $30 Bass Pro Shop shoes on his freckled feet and the guy is all grins. This is his first time to Africa. Congo will be an interesting introduction. I have no idea what the next few weeks hold, only that I've been jonesin for the unknown.
Welcome to the rest of the world.
Sean D. Carasso
***please feel free to pass this on to anyone and everyone. you're the reason we exist.***