If you are sixty years old and you don’t feel your age, the best thing to do is to keep on and up with life. I peep through the blinds and see that spring is here. It is a good time as any to get my act together. I have just retired from my work as a marketing specialist for a US NGO that works on projects in Africa. But retirement is over rated for someone who has spent the last thirty years abroad, working with various organizations that help alleviate the plight of the poorest communities in Africa.
I look back to life in that continent and smile. Despite the harsh conditions, the heat mainly, I would say that I have made a home in a country where comfort is having a roof over one’s head, food on the table, and clean water to drink.
Weekends were spent lazily in our home there. The missus would draw the shades up during the day, to let the sun shine through. And there was plenty of that, the sun, in that part of the world. The beauty and tranquility was a sight to behold. Even after living there for three decades, with just the annual trip back home for the holidays as our respite from work, the sight, sound, and smell still held me in awe of the splendor of it all.
It was all that I ever imagined it to be, and more. My wife, at first missed the comforts of life in the US, where the comforts that we took for granted were absolute luxuries in Africa. Imagine our luggage each time we came back from our holidays, it was full of ingredients for food that she wanted to cook at home. But the country charmed her, and I always made sure that the home we lived in, had a good kitchen. In a way, it helped us stave off feeling homesick each time. But eventually, the apple pies were replaced with pies made with fruits in season in the region, and then we started cooking local food tweaked to our taste. A compromise most of the time, but it was a good one.
Now that we’re home for good, I would sometimes find her looking through the shutters of the windows in our kitchen and I know that she somehow misses the life we had in that faraway continent. Sure, we have our comforts here, but Africa woos you into submission, and the love you develop for it, just never goes away.
Most of our friends and family think that we must be relieved to be back for good and enjoying retirement. We are. But the longing to go back is there, will always be there. It is not a matter of just comfort really, but living in a place where time runs slower than the rest of the world, and the people are quite happy and friendly, despite the difficulties of living there, just transforms you. We went there to make a change. What we did not know was that Africa would change us too.