Refugees on their way to America
Jan 29, 2005
Today, it's a rest day. My only goal is to make plans for my birthday tomorrow. I decide that tomorrow I'll head down to Kalikol on Lake Turkana and try to hook up with that Mark guy from New Zealand.
I write a note for him letting him know that I'm coming. I find a minivan heading for Kalikol and give the driver the note to deliver. Hopefully the note will make it. There shouldn't be more than one white guy in Kalikol.
For my birthday, I need booze. That's no problem. I can buy a bottle of whiskey at the "supermarket". But, since it's a birthday I want to do something special. A nice dinner is pretty traditional but there won't be any nice restaurants in Kalikol so I start thinking about buying a whole goat for dinner. Then I wonder if I can eat a goat that I've seen alive and watched slaughtered. I'm pretty sure that I could, but a better question is "is that how I want to remember my birthday?"
But, that's a question for tomorrow. Tonight, I went back to my favorite restaurant for spaghetti. I arrived and found the restaurant overfull of people, which was strange as it's never this full, particularly not at this late hour. I actually had trouble finding a place to sit.
Suddenly, just as my spaghetti arrives, the restaurant empties and everyone piles into a bus. As I start eating, I notice my friend, Abdi Salama, and his mother who owns the restaurant standing on the patio and watching the bus. I get up, join them, and ask what's going on. They tell me that the bus is full of Somalis from the refugee camp that I passed yesterday. The bus is heading to Nairobi, and then they're all flying on to America.
It's very strange being in a hot dusty backwater town like this and meeting people on their way to start a new life in your home. It's also not too different from the trip that my grandparents and great-grandparents took long ago - though neither buses nor planes existed back then. I wish that I had a chance to talk to them to learn their hopes and expectations were. But the bus was getting ready to leave.
I'm filled with a range of emotions. Thinking of America has made me a little bit homesick. I'm very excited for them and their new opportunities. I'm also very amused by the little girl staring wide-eyed at me, the white person - she's in for a huge shock when she arrives in Cincinnati, or where ever she's going. And this doesn't happen very often, but I was very proud to be an American -- "bring me your hungry" and all that.
Tomorrow, perhaps a birthday party.
The trip from Nairobi to Addis Ababa was interesting enough that I wrote it up as a daily log. If you'd like to read it from the beginning click here: [ Leaving Nairobi ]
Leave a comment! I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading.
Wow Adam, just when I thought you were becoming too cynical. Best journal yet, by far!!!!
Mwahija says hi!
Tim and Mwahija
I have gotten cynical. But that doesn't mean that I can't be occasionally emotionally touched by something.
Bob Eson - Apr 18, 2005
Yeah, this is good stuff!
Jlio - Apr 23, 2005
Happy B'day man! I little late but just you know I am reading.