09 March 2006

who needs money?

Oh, that's me. I need money. The beauty of money, you see, is that you can call a travel agent and tell them, "I need a flight that gets me into Monrovia, Liberia on this day." and they buy it for you and you get on a plane and you get there on that day. When you don't have money, you are left investigating charter flights into Accra and Freetown or gasping aloud in shock in the middle of class when you learn that a return flight from Brussels to Monrovia is 1700 euros. EUROS! My little summer grant cannot cover such ridiculousity.

Meanwhile, I could almost forgive New York for not being Africa if the weather were always like today. If I had been thinking when I moved back from Rwanda, which clearly I was not because I came straight to New York, I would have spent a winter in Michigan first and then, oh, then I would have appreciated New York. I mean, first of all, it's colder and cloudier in Michigan, so I would even have appreciated the weather here. But I also would have appreciated the crowds and the languages and the learning so much more.

At the time, you see, when I was planning my departure from Rwanda, I thought it would be better to come straight to New York.

You know, in New York you have to shop at several grocery stores to get what you need, just like Africa. Or not just exactly like Africa, because you can get what you need in one store unless you want particular brands.

You walk everywhere in New York, like most people in Africa. Well, okay, I had the baby Land Cruiser in Rwanda. About which I often felt guilty, because who am I to be driving a Prado when that 80 year old man is hobbling along with a cane? As Uzzie said when I lamented about it to him, "Everyone can't have a car." Erm, strictly environmentally speaking, that's probably right, but it's the principle of the thing. Of my feelings of guilt.

But I still thought New York would be better than Michigan, like something of a middle ground between Africa and the Midwest. And it probably is a bit better than Michigan.

There are, however, days when I hear the workmen tearing up the street and the taxis honking and the music of the man standing next to me at the stoplight and the crash of the garbage truck and I remember that when it rained hard at night in Kibuye, when the rain on the metal roof was all I could hear, I would wake up sometimes and wonder idly, "What if it rains so hard that the hill falls down on me?" and then I would drift off to sleep, not really caring if it did come down. And sometimes in the evening, out at the end of the peninsula, I would watch the sun tumble into the clouds over Igwi and realize that no other human being could hear or see me.

I used to stand looking over the lake and think to myself: remember, when you go back to the US, that this is more beautiful than anywhere else you've ever been.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Come on, the Midwest ain't that bad! ;-) As far as the money thing, it sucks how expensive plane tickets to Africa are, and I spent several days researching before I found a cheap transatlantic flight and now I'm about to start searching for my London-to-Nairobi flight which I know will be a nightmare. But hey, I've got a budget to keep. Anyway, I will be in Rwanda as part of the 10wks total that I am spending in Africa, so that's why I've been browsing the blogosphere to get an idea about that country. Cool that you get to go to Africa on a regular basis!