I’m back at school, I’m tired, I’ve got a cold coming on but otherwise things are good.
After my Christmas trip to Kenya I was quite drained, sunburnt and altogether dreading going back to work. Having a break of a month is not necessarily a good thing for me. (Yes, I know, boo hoo, poor me, I’m sure you would love a month off for Christmas – I’m not bemoaning that, I just recognise that I need more structure than all that time to my own devices.)
I was almost panicking about going back into the classroom as I have deep levels of disbelief in myself. This is, after all, my first year teaching full time and so far it’s been very disrupted, but hopefully that is behind me and I can settle in and get better at what I do essentially enjoy doing.
The trip to Kenya was a good one and I’m very grateful to Rob, Sarah and Millie, who put up with me for the three weeks that we went for and transported me everywhere. I’ve now seen vast swathes of Tanzanian and Kenyan countryside, driven through the Rift Valley* for miles and miles, fed giraffes, stroked orphaned baby elephants and had one tickle my foot with it’s trunk. I’ve eaten at Planet Yoghurt, Carnivore where I tried ostrich and crocodile, stayed in a Lodge on the outskirts of Tsavo National Park, stayed in a pink house in Watamu, seen a 69 year old in a mankini (thankfully no pictures exist), snorkelled in the Indian Ocean, been very sunburnt (even when sitting in the shade!!) and eaten octopus caught from the beach. I’ve sat in Tanga Yacht Club and read ‘Snuff’, ‘Cinnamon Gardens’, ‘That’s Not My Monster’, ‘Dave Gorman vs. The World’ and re-read ‘American Gods’. I’ve been to the Gede Ruins and sat watching monkeys play for half an hour. I’ve left birthday cards in Nairobi and bought a Bird of Paradise flower made of beads. I’ve played drinking games, Mancala and peek-a-boo.
I’ve also been a bit sad, missed Dad and my family, particularly Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, so I’ve probably been a shit company at times and so I apologise to those I was with on those days, but I think they understood. They were the firsts. There will be more firsts, my birthday in about 6 weeks, Dad’s 65th in May… I don’t expect to be fine straight away, there will always be something to remind me, but I don’t want to keep having ‘lost days’ – I was almost catatonic in the last days of December, driving long distances tires me anyway but the others went out for the day, I was nursing the sunburn, reading a book and probably wouldn’t have eaten if they hadn’t come back and cooked dinner. I’m sure they were annoyed by the lack of help I was offering, but I just physically couldn’t get up from the chair to do anything useful. Luckily it passed relatively shortly, within a couple of days. The last time I was like that I was given a week off from university during the PGCE to write an essay. After 6 months of non stop work, getting up at 6 and going to bed at midnight I just couldn’t cope without a routine. We had moved house, had no furniture, the cat had been moved to Oxford to live with Dad, I’d lost tough with many of my friends and had realised that I couldn’t stay with my boyfriend. At that point I couldn’t break up with him though because I couldn’t have completed my course on my own. I was still another 8 months until I felt strong enough to leave.
Even two days before term started I really didn’t want to go in, but 17 of us (mostly teachers with a few additions) went to the restaurant at the beach and I started to feel at home again. It has helped that many of my class are still in America or India, I’m now teaching 4 secondary classes, starting work on the Junior school production and starting the Secondary Choir. And now I’m getting more positive about things as I’m settling back in. I’ve been swimming twice this week and intend to make it to the pool 3 times a week. Days will be busy, but I need busy at the moment. It gives me an excuse to try and get myself organised (it won’t happen, but it’s worth a try). I’ve made some decisions too. They may change, probably will, but I like to have a plan, it makes me feel like I can deviate from it if I need to but I’m not just ambling through life lost. I may stay a third year here and then do a year elsewhere. If I get some inheritance money through in the next year or two then I may use some of it to travel for a year or so. Then I’m going to move back to England. Probably Sheffield. I don’t want to miss too much of my nieces and nephews growing up. But in the meantime there’s plenty to do, including Zanzibar in 6 weeks….
*Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania is where the oldest tool made by humanoids – a stone axe around 1.5 million years old – was discovered, so the Rift Valley can be seen as the cradle of humanity as well as the site of the Great Valley from The Land Before Time film series.