far far away
We only know a few people that have been to
Africa. Obviously, Africa attracts a lot of travelers, but for
us, Africa represents a significant departure from our previous
experiences. Even after a lot of reading, the prospect of visiting
Africa (beginning with Uganda, no less) is somewhat frightening,
and supremely… um… foreign.
It begins, oddly enough, in the London airport.
There is a psychological barrier that one crosses when entering
any airport, especially a large international airport like Heathrow.
We experience this, emphasized by the change in sound, as the
outside doors close behind us and we are enveloped by the familiar
airport environment, making us feel a bit safer. We become one
of a million deliveries making its way from one hub to another.
Things change again as we make the transition
to the international terminal. The signs are multilingual and
I can overhear conversations in a variety of languages, many of
which I don’t even recognize. I see saris and expensive
suits and big jewelry, even convertible pants and hiking boots.
We sit down next to a man with earlobes so long that he has wrapped
them around the tops of his ears in a complicated twisted knot.
I wonder if this is to make them less conspicuous during his business
transactions in England, or maybe it’s for comfort or fashion,
or maybe he just likes it that way. Other people in our vicinity
(mostly men) are dressed smartly in bright colors. All available
evidence supports the guess that they’ll be joining us on
our flight to Nairobi.