I’m back. After leaving Tanzania, I flew into Newcastle and stayed there for a few days – for sleeping and for laundry and for reminding my family what I look like. And then on Sunday evening, I boarded the train that brought me the last few hundred of my journey of ten thousand miles and I came home.
It’s strange, being back. It’s better, now that I’m adjusting to what might best be described as reverse culture shock. I have a newfound appreciation for washing machines and a reliable hot water supply, and I found myself in a fracture clinic last week and couldn’t get over how clean it all was. And then there are the negatives, too: I spent an inordinately long time this week staring blankly at different kinds of shower gel and eventually concluded that we have too much stuff in this country, I’d never noticed before that Newcastle must surely be one of the whitest cities in the world (and that says as much about me as it does about it), and, yes, I have been watching the English riots and my opinion of them is probably influenced by memories of where I’ve just been and what I know of the riots that did take place while I was there. It’s strange. I haven’t finished processing it all. Something happened to me when I was in Tanzania, and it may be many months or even years before I fully appreciate what that means.
My life is going back to normal.
I look at the map, sometimes. I see in my mind’s eye the invisible line that connects us with East Africa and I wonder.