It’s a funny thing to reflect. It’s over two years now that I have been living in this hazy island jungle they call Bioko. And as I sit here on the Eve, Eve of Christmas, flicking the tiny ants from my desk – who don’t appear to particularly WANT anything, they just like cruising over my computer monitor from time to time – I find myself contemplating time’s fast flight. It is a basic truth – one cannot freeze time. Nor is it even possible to slow it up a little (though it may feel like it’s dragging its sweet ass all around the office sometimes).
Two years ago, I came here on a solo flight – feeling like an impostor in my business class seat – without a job or really any understanding of the place or the culture that I had agreed to live within. We left our four bedroom suburban house in chilly Victoria behind, packed up the husband’s old Mazda to choking point and said goodbye to our previous life. That last 24 hours was traumatic as it could be. I finished up at my old job only the day before we were scheduled to leave. We had already given away, or sold, those possessions that we didn’t want to put into storage – but the house was still chock-a-block with STUFF. The stuff that we figured we would probably want at some time in the future. And the stuff in the spare bedroom and the walk-in closet, that was to be put in boxes and shipped across the world to some country we had until recently never heard of.
That day was an absolute flurry of activity. The moving guys arrived early in the morning, and all around us, our stuff was being wrapped, packed, packed into boxes. I ran around the house like a headless hen (blood gushing from my finger following an accident with an exploding beer bottle) trying to deal with those last items that didn’t fit into either of the “Storage” or “Africa” groups. It seemed such a waste to throw out of all those unused cleaning products. Surely my sister could use them? And, uh oh, now the bin is full…. Looks like we’ll have to go find some public bins.
At one point it looked like the Mazda was not going to be able to accommodate all our suitcases as well as the things we were donating to people along the road trip north. Even my wedding dress was lying crumpled in the back seat underneath a bunch of who the hell knows what. But somehow, the husband’s 3 Dimensional Jigsaw skills arrived to save the day, and after taking photos to ensure we knew how to repack the car when stopping along the road, Mazzie the Mazda was ready and loaded.
At some point after 4pm, I stood in the front yard of our empty, but filthy, house, and begged the husband to stop fussing with the cleanliness of the yard so we could get the hell out of there. Clearly the anticipation was too much for me, and I found myself overwrought and bawling, which may have been the only thing that finally convinced the husband that we needed to go. Yes, moving house is always stressful.
But vacating a house within 24 hours to relocate overseas – I’d say it’s pretty messed up. The trauma is traumatising. Plus I’m sure having minimal sleep the night before (we had to sleep on a lilo because we’d sold our bed) did not help.
Fast forward two years later (two different jobs, two different apartments, too many holidays to count) and once again it’s a hazy, humid Christmas on the island. We managed to purchase some fabulously tacky decorations in town, and the fairy lights have been hung on our balcony railing. So, we are ready. Tomorrow night, among the mozzies, in the shadow of the Gas Plant, those of us who are here for yet another Christmas will share a few drinks and sample the dishes with culinary ties to all around the world.
2017 is just around the corner.
And behind the ham.
Or possibly through the beer…