Back to Reality

So I left Nepal, more changed than I thought I would have been. I was humming the poems of Pablo Neruda to myself and have caught myself smiling at nothing in particular. I think I have found love!

A sea of clouds over Nairobi

Before I get carried away with that, I’ll tell you of my experience in Nairobi. This was the last leg of the flight back home. From Kathmandu to Dubai, then to Nairobi where I spent a night.  It had its own fun, with a Congolese man trying to pick me up. He saw me all alone in this hotel, and he probably mistook me for one of those unfortunate Asian girls who end up being trafficked to unknown parts of the world to “sell” themselves.
After all my “encounters” with African men (some offering me cows and hectares and hectares of land), I was not prepared for what this one was going to say or do, to be honest.  He nonchalantly asked for my phone number, and when I told him I don’t have it, he wrote his name and phone down on paper, shoved the paper to me, and said, “Call me. We are going to talk, only the two of us, and we are going to spend the whole night together in your room. What’s your room number?” And I was prepared to stab him with a knife if he was to so much as knock on my door. And someone did knock on my door at around 4 a.m., and when I asked the receptionist about it the next morning, she told me a “friend” had asked where my room is! 
The next day, I found myself at the airport. And would you believe, I got ripped off! You see, I had forgotten my Yellow Fever card back in Sudan, and these Kenyan airport officials were merciless. They knew I couldn’t get on the plane without that card, but they wanted to make a quick buck, obviously. What surprised me was that everyone I spoke to in the airport conspired with this thug to rip me off. They told me,  “Today, being a Sunday, the office that gives the yellow fever card is closed, but I can get it for you for 100 dollars. Normally, it’s 50 dollars, and takes a lot of time, but if you give me a 100, we cut all the BS and you get your card in time for your flight.” Or something to that effect.

Where I fell victim to a scam

I tried to complain, but whoever I went to simply said, “That man will help you get the card. Just give him some money and he’ll take care of it.” It’s a racquet. Why didn’t they just show me the office where I can get this card and. I was so mad, especially when the thug advised me not to say anything or pretend I don’t know how to speak English! The nerve! But my flight was soon taking off and I didn’t want to miss it, so I coughed up the 100 dollars, cursing them under my breath, wishing I’d not forgotten that card. Stupid, stupid me!

And now I’m back in Bor. Nepal seems so far away in the past. It’s like a dream, and Bor is the reality. I can’t believe the fun and romance I had there. The temples that were 500 years old, some thousands of years old, the snow-capped mountains that I only glimpsed at, the mesmerizing sunsets over the lake—hmmm, it all seemed a dream.

The dream that was Nepal.
The reality that is Bor.
And the reality that was Bor struck me real hard the other day, when two corpses showed up near our compound. A woman and her baby. They were shot dead. Word had it that the woman was trying to protect her eight-year-old girl from being kidnapped, and the kidnappers shot her, killing the baby in the process as well. I’d never seen a murder victim before. This sightly disheartened me. Scared me. For Bor is getting worse by the day. So many mysterious deaths. So many children kidnapped and sold to whoever knows where.

There is a rival tribe that has infiltrated the area, and is said to be responsible for most of these kidnappings. But generally, the area is awash with illegal guns, and though there is a disarmament process going on, too many bad people have guns with them.
Still, Bor is safer than Juba. At least in Bor, the only thing the thieves are after are cows and children, and lucky for us, we have neither in our compound. In Juba, NGO camps are being raided and looted by thugs. At least in Bor, they still don’t know the value of dollars and laptops and cameras, so they won’t be coming to steal from us anytime soon. I won’t stay in Juba during the declaration of independence. No other NGO is pulling out their staff, so we are going to stay as well, it being safer than Juba.
But all this talk of insecurity, of dead women and their babies turning up on my doorstep, make me wish for my next R and R—which is still weeks away! Too bad! And it makes me feel like Nepal was a distant dream. Luckily, it’s the kind of dream that can be recurrent. 

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5 Comment

  1. Great post. Keep them coming!

  2. admin says: Reply

    Thanks, Storycollector. I'm glad you enjoy blog. 🙂

  3. Sorry to hear about your experience in Kenya. I was fortunate not to experience any difficulties in East Africa when I was there about eight years ago. It's a beautiful part of the world and most of the people you meet there are very welcoming.

    Enjoyed your post and thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. admin says: Reply

    Hi Ritchie, East Africa is indeed beautiful and the people very friendly and accommodating. I've forged lasting friendships while here. It's just unfortunate that a few people do certain things to mar that good reputation. But overall, my experience has been really enriching.

    Thanks for following my blog.

  5. ZA says: Reply

    Love reading your journey. Keep up the good work;)

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