The cold weather, the Christmas music I brought (to keep my co-worker from singing on her own – again) and the impatient angst I have waiting to hear from my spouse that he is in country and ready to be picked up for R&R got me to thinking about Christmas three years ago. Well actually it was “All come all ye faithful” ala Shaggy style that got me to thinking about Christmas in Africa.
Three Christmases ago we peeved off his parents and spent two weeks in Africa (Tanzania) instead of flying home to see them. His mom was ticket at us for I don’t know I think at least two weeks. We left his phone at home and only Top had my cell phone should there be a recall or true emergency. The flight was eight hours long, with a little problem along the way. One of our bags was a whopping 2 kilos overweight. The KLM check in girl was nasty and said we either pay the fine or pull clothes out and put it in with another passenger’s. They wouldn’t let us just “count” it as the other lady’s who was underweight. That incident was funny to look at now but was an ugly start to the holiday at the time.
The Tanzanian people were wonderful. Everyone we met, regardless of status were so friendly, kind and greeted you with a gigantic smile. I had seen poverty before in other countries but here was different. Most whom I saw or met, would have still given me the shirt off their back if I had asked for it. If not that, then they would have offered to break bread with us and invite a complete stranger into their home. My husband and I found that you sometimes get a better or richer experience when you spend a little time with the guide or the drivers when they aren’t on the clock. This trip was the same.
On Christmas day, the resort we were at served a feast that would impress Wolfgang Puck himself. Some of the plate presentations and buffet designs were spectacular. Of course we both tried almost all of the traditional dishes while many others stuck with what was “safe”. We ate and laughed and talked amongst our group as well as some other Americans who were there. One couple had brought their parents over from the states and worked in the Foreign Service. As things began to quiet down the employees started filtering into the bar area where a live band was playing.
The guys were pretty good doing cover tunes of different genres and generations. Most folks seemed to really be enjoying themselves and you could even catch the bartenders softly swaying and moving to the music. Our nature guide had wandered in and we asked to buy him a beer. More and more the room started to get crowded with resort staff all listening or dancing to the music. As the evening went on they started to play Marley. Tune after tune he sang the words of freedom and the voice of the people who desired nothing more than to end apartheid and give back to the people. I’ve listened to Bob Marley since I was probably 15, maybe it’s a California thing, maybe it was a surfer thing but I knew and sang every word swaying and grooving atop my barstool.
I guess a few of the women were watching me, when the band started to play “No Woman No cry” they swooped in grabbed my hands and drug me to the dance floor. So here I am, this little (5’4”) American chick, sunburned twice over, out on the floor in the middle of all these Africans (most much taller than I) singing, dancing and feeling the song. This is my favourtie Marley tune, and it has special meaning for me as my spouse has always provided for me, for my mental or physical well being. I always think of this line and what he has done for me and our marriage:
"Then we would cook cornmeal porridge,
Of which I'll share with you;
My feet is my only carriage,
So I've got to push on through.
But while I'm gone, I mean:
Everything's gonna be all right! "
I think I spent a half an hour out there dancing to the rest of what Marley tunes they knew. Finally the guys took a break in their set. As we started to walk off the floor several of the women gave me a hug (more like a bear hug) and wished me a Happy Christmas. The love and kindness, the karmic good feeling permeated every corner of the bar, it would have been impossible to not leave there feeling happy.
This time of year has always been the best time of year. It was (and is) always the time for family in our house. If we couldn’t afford to come home at Thanksgiving while in college, we always made it for Christmas. Being in Europe sometimes has made it a little harder for us to get home, I can’t always get leave and he isn’t always in country. But even through the miles I know that “everything’s gonna be all right” and he’ll be here soon. Now if I could only concentrate for more than a minute at work I might actually forget to check my phone 90 times an hour to see if he called.