I had never really wanted to go to Berlin, funny really. It didn’t stand high on my list next to Rome or Madrid or Amsterdam. So I was gently surprised and impressed. Yes it was chilly, in both senses of the word, I certainly saw no German warmth from any bus drivers or waiters, and yes everything was in German, a language I cannot comprehend so I was in the dark a fair bit, but it hardly mattered. Brushing my hand along a fragment of the Berlin wall one moment and peeking behind it to see a huge temple of Capitalism where the East once stood was simply extraordinary. How this city has transformed, rebuilt and redefined itself in the past 20 years is impressive to say the least. Not only does everything work but it works well. The architecture is brave and startling, modern and fit for a new Germany. The shops sparkle and the people click their beautiful boots with purpose. The food was excellent and tasted fresh, not in the least bit processed or fixed in a speedy and lazy microwave. In fact every bite I ate and every sip of divine coffee seemed made for a discerning and picky clientele with high standards. The city was extremely clean and easy to walk; after eating their curried sausage people actually put the rubbish in the bins provided. Yes I am amazed by the obvious because for the past 4 years I have seen more than enough simple folk treat the sidewalk and street as their own personal bin.
Here are some photos taken from my trip. My only regret is that I took the tiny Leica point and shoot and not my lovely big Canon.
It turns out I missed this iconic little green guy’s 50th birthday by three days!
This time a year ago I was walking through the snowy streets of London filled with the expectation of a new life unfolding before me. I had just signed on the dotted line and accepted this post and this life here in Kampala. It was an exciting and crazy leap but one that I still had months to digest. After a week in London I returned home to Trinidad for the final 6 months of our stay. When it came time to leave Trinidad it was absolutely heart wrenching, both because we were leaving a place and people we had grown to love and because we were jumping into the unknown. And now here we are, we have made the leap, we are surviving and those snowy walks through London, trying to imagine Africa, are but a memory. It is funny when, what once we couldn’t even imagine is now something we live everyday.
I had no idea what it would be, I just held my breath and jumped.
People have ideas about Africa. Some think it will be full of men in skins ready to dance or spin around a village, many can’t even imagine what an African city is like. I was one of those people. It defies the imagination, there is no way to know what an assault it will be, how the poverty will hit you, a little less everyday, but still hit with a pungent punch all the same. The things that were so strange at first slowly start to become normal and in this week, when I am looking back to those days at the job fair, I am trying to remember what the picture in my mind was. Did I even have a picture in my head or was I just hooked on the idea of adventure? Trying something different? Exploring another corner of this world I had never seen?
In two weeks, on Valentine’s Day, in fact, we will celebrate our 6 month anniversary here. I use the word celebrate intentionally, it has been hard but there is a lot to celebrate; what started out as a hand shake in the ballroom of a London hotel has ended up being a life.