31 December 2006

And We're Back

I am now home, having returned safely from two weeks in Kenya. My friends up here in New Hampshire very kindly ordered a big snow storm for my return -- a few days ago, I was in the intense equatorial heat of Lamu Island, and yesterday I drove up from Boston and saw one car after another off the road, felled by snow and ice. (Indeed, a friend of mine was in a big pile-up that closed a section of the highway for two hours. He's not hurt, but his car was totalled.)

I've been trying to figure out how to write about all I did and saw and learned in Kenya, but right now it's such an undigested mass of experience in my head that I distrust much of anything I might say about it all, for fear of generalizing too much, for fear of blathering on, for fear of ranting. I've been dreading the inevitable questions such as, "How was your trip?" because there is no way to sum it up succinctly. The best thing to come up with is to say that if I were able to go back in a time machine and tell my earlier self if it was worth the time, expense, and anxiety, then I would certainly tell myself yes, go for it, do this. I would certainly warn myself of a few things, though -- be ready to be more outgoing than you are normally comfortable being, be ready for many hidden expenses, don't expect too much from the organized events (because "organized" is not what most of them were, and the best experiences were the most spontaneous, anyway), be prepared to be suspicious of everything anybody says, and though you won't regret not going on safari you may want to limit your time on Lamu more (the smell of donkey shit will become tiresome, as will the constant attention from locals wanting to offer their services for one thing or another -- they are friendly in a way that, for a lifelong New Englander, is both amazing and wearying).

I came home with a pile of books and magazines, and will report on them as much as I can, because one of the things I would like to do is find ways to bring more attention to some of the African literature that is difficult to find outside of Africa. A consortium of literary journals from Africa, the U.S., and elsewhere are working now to create ways to bring more of what has been published from Africa to readers throughout the world, and I hope be to be able to help bring more attention to these efforts as they progress.

Meanwhile, I have hundreds of emails to catch up with, various writing assignments to complete, jet-lag to get over, and that full-time teaching thing that I'm also supposed to be doing...

I'll be posting some links to various things that appeared while I was away, and I'm also moving this blog to the new version of Blogger -- no change in address or anything, but there will be some tweaks to the template and functions, and inevitably I'm sure there will be some moments when things look a little weird or out of place.