An African's Anecdotes and Accoutrements
|Whenever I go back to Zimbabwe my parents drive up from Bulawayo to see me. Mum always says it’s easier to be the party leaving, because at least they can look forward to returning to their home and their pets. For those left behind there’s a bit of an emptiness... a restlessness that takes a few days to dissipate. For the past six and a half years Zimbabwe has not been my physical home, so this is perhaps why I've not really understood what Mum means.
I always felt Mum said this to try and make me feel better about saying goodbye. I know when I go down to Bulawayo to see them she takes a few days to settle down after I leave. I used to put this down to her soft Piscean character, and tried not to feel sad when she told me about her dogs looking for me in my old bedroom. After having said goodbye to the Malawian contingent of our family after a three week visit that ended last Friday I can now empathise with Mum – it’s more difficult staying behind as the host/ess than leaving as the visitor/s.
In the six years we’ve been in Thessaloniki and Izmir we’ve hosted and eclectic bunch of family and friends at our home. During our three years in Izmir my brother Bryan and his family, our nephew Nigel and his wife Sian, Ivan’s brother Denis and his partner Denise, our friends Roy and Victoria and now Ivan’s sister Heather, her husband Dermot and our niece Courtney have visited us. Each time I’ve played tour guide, showing them the sites in and around Izmir. And each time I’ve seen each place through their eyes, which in turn has helped me gain a new perspective on places like Ephesus, Saint John’s Basilica, Virgin Mary’s house and Pamukkale. Even the Izmir Bazaar has now given me a few more shops to visit whenever I venture there.
We ate seafood next to the Aegean Sea at the port of Kuşadasi , discovered pomegranate syrup (delicious!) at Şirençe, toured Ephesus and Saint John’s Basilica, visited Virgin Mary’s house, took the ferry across the Bay of Izmir to Konak, lost the Malawians in the Bazaar (found them an hour later!), bought the most glorious bath towels I have ever seen in a massive shopping complex next to Izmir’s newest hotel (forgot the name ), toured Aphrodisias, watched the Malawians swimming among the Grecian pillars in the warm waters of Pamukkale’s antique pool and laughed as they tentatively walked onto the site’s world-famous calcified shelves that look so much like snow. We ate plenty of traditional Turkish food and finished more than a few bottles of red wine. Some evenings we drank Malawi gin with bitter lemon (my favourite) or tonic (Heather’s favourite) for a change.
Heather cooked and glazed a delicious Christmas ham. We bought fresh seafood at the fish market; I served baked salmon with dill on a bed of onions and rice, Heather grilled delicious prawns. We watched ten minutes of fireworks explode over the waterfront at New Year, after a lovely dinner at Izmir’s Chinese restaurant. We went to see “Avatar” – the first time I’ve ever watched a 3D movie. We all loved it – a fantastic film. I took my Malawians to Manisa, and after driving to the summit of Mount Spil and discovering some lovely Alpine-style cottages at the peak we saw Niobe, the rock from Greek mythology representing a weeping woman’s face...
So on Friday Ivan and I found ourselves at Izmir’s domestic terminal waving goodbye to our family. We returned to a quiet house and Jabba hurried to the car to greet our guests. The look on his face when only Ivan and I emerged reflected our own sense of sadness. Mum was right – it is lousy being the ones left behind.
The Malawians got home safely, and have settled back into their routine. I’ve had to add some pretty intense exercising to my routine – all the wining and dining piled on a couple of kilograms! But it was worth it. I’d do it all over again in a flash if I could. The next big thing in our lives is a trip back to Zim towards the end of March... and I need to get back into my writing groove again. One month off has been good for me – this is the second piece I’ve written this year! So a belated Happy New Year to you all, and I hope your inspiration and love of writing thrives in 2010.