I’ve always loved rainy mornings. There’s something about waking up to the patter of raindrops on the roof which I find incredibly refreshing and relaxing, and it’s definitely something I got used to living in England. This morning we woke to the sound of rain, and while it’s a familiar sound it’s also quite different. The sound of the rain is magnified on our metal roofs and is often punctuated by incredible claps of thunder. Its also substantially heavier than the endless days of drizzle I remember. Even the smell of it is different; desperately desired water falling on the dusty ground of Africa creates a different scent to droplets falling on tarmac and well laid lawns.
A lot of things we encounter here are like that – familiar but different.
I just recovered from a 24-hour stomach bug and found myself craving something familiar to eat, a pizza from Dominos, chips from the chip shop we used to live near, a favourite pasta sauce. There’s Pizza Hut here, and KFC, but they don’t taste the same as what I’d grown accustomed to (no gravy!).
It got me thinking about whether there is anything at all which is exactly the same as what I was used to for the first 30 years of my life. Bed, that’s the same, but we sleep under a net to keep out the mosquitos. We still have movies to watch, but no TV, so it’s a laptop screen or a projector. Bananas are sweeter, lemons are green (if they’re yellow they’re overripe), and no one knows what a kiwi fruit looks like. Lettuce tastes much the same, but we tend to wash it in a very diluted bleach solution to kill any nasties, so the preparation is really different. We have electricity and internet and water, but the services aren’t always reliable. We have hot water, but it’s solar generated so on a rainy day there’s no guarantee of a hot shower… All in all, everything is familiar but different.
Last night I settled on a homemade pizza. It satisfied my hunger, even if a little part of me was still craving a Pepperoni Passion.
I wonder if we’ll return to England one day, and crave something familiar from Africa. A juicy pineapple, strangers who will always greet you on the street, sunshine! At what point will everything here become familiar, and the things of our birth home different? I expect we’ll become people of two nations, enjoying different things from each, and missing other things when we’re away.
For now, we are learning to love the differences and the place where we are.