I tried to blog about my big adventure in Africa, but I soon realised that not only did I not have enough time, but there were way too many emotions, events, sweat, tears and laughs to write about. I simply couldn’t digest it all in time to write about it, before there was something new going on. Now I’m sat in a coffee shop in Stockholm and everything feels so normal and still so weird. I’m not even sure how to write about my summer in a way that makes any sense to anybody, but I will do my best.
In the beginning I was very confused and exhausted. There was so much to learn and so many impressions. I felt stupid sometimes, like I could never learn it all in time to do a good job. I tried to stay in the background and learn, but at the same time I had to get right in there, because the other girls needed my help. It took me 3 to 4 weeks to feel like I knew what I was doing. One thing that didn’t change, was the feeling of being tired like ALL THE TIME. I was prepared to work a lot and I usually don’t have any problems doing so, but I never realised how important it is for me to have some alone time. To have long breaks every now and again and be able to hang out with myself. There was not much of that and it started tearing me apart. After moving rooms two times I ended up sharing one with my Teddy Bärli, which was amazing, it finally felt like I had a home in Tunisia. But no matter how much I love her and loved our little home, I still didn’t get much alone time and this is just one of 1000000 things I’ve learnt about myself this summer, now I know that I need to consider this for any future adventures.
I was so excited to go to Tunisia. I had some sort of dreamt up “1000 and one nights” Arabian fantasy expectation that soon was smashed down with the power of Ali Baba and all of his 40 thieves. This country has the possibility of being so beautiful, but I get the feeling that no one cares enough to make it happen. It’s dirty, empty and stinky and I find that so sad. The people are over all very friendly, as long as you are friendly to them. But one of the things that really put me off and that also was one of the reasons I decided to leave earlier (more on that later) is the way you are treated there, as a young foreign woman. Never mind the cat calling and looks that you can sometimes get from random men in Europe, this is a completely other level. As soon as we left the secure walls of the 5 star resort we called our home, (but literally AS SOON AS, you didn’t even have time to count to 10) we had one or more men talking to us,trying to touch us, whistling at us, following us and for some reason they all want to know where we’re from (Greece was not an acceptable answer, they wouldn’t believe me). Inside the hotel I felt like a prisoner, who either had to stay in my room or represent a company and be overly friendly and talk to everybody all the time, and outside the hotel I never felt safe. Adding to that there was literally nothing to do and nowhere to go except for a couple of shops and one or two nice restaurants and on my short breaks I prioritised sleeping or at least just breathing a little in my room.
At the end of July however, I started having troubles breathing. It all became way too much for me and even though I did like my actual work, in the Mungo Club with the kiddos, I couldn’t even do a good enough job there. I was going through everything in my head. Back and forth. Forth and back. A bit sideways. Twisting it around. Going crazy. I didn’t talk to many people about it, because I knew that I needed to make this decision by myself. There was a constant plea to myself in my brain: “Darling, you’ve got to let me know, should I stay or should I go!?”. What you need know about me is that I’ve never quit ANYTHING in my life. In my teenage years I wanted to do everything and learn everything and go everywhere so much that I had stress fits almost every night. I had some activity every afternoon after school and added homework and meeting friends to that.
I have had jobs that I didn’t feel 100% satisfied at before, but I’ve fought through them seeing the future, counting the days, trying to focus on the positive things. This time however, for the first time ever, I didn’t feel like there was enough reason for me to continue. I had seen it, I had realised it wasn’t for me, I had already learnt so many things and I felt so unhealthy, unhappy and given up, falling apart. I needed to go. Making the decision to quit and go home earlier than planned was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but also one of the most rewarding, freeing and important ones. I am so proud of myself for finally having done something for me. When i finally made my decision and went through with it, the process was longer than I’d excepted and added more stress to the situation, the first half of August was just a blur of trying to get through the situation, but when it was all finalised and I had my Confirmation of Termination e-mail in my inbox, I could finally breath and do a good job for the rest of my stay. And even though I couldn’t wait to leave and go home, the closer to the end it got, the harder it was to leave it all behind. This place had become my home away from (all my other) home(s). You get used to places and people so easily.
Talking about people, the main reason I didn’t go completely bonkers, is my beloved Africana family. I will cherish you all in my heart forever! I have met so many people this summer and they have all given me so much, taught me so much about myself, themselves and life in general. I have had good and bad confrontations with people, but in the end I want to thank every single soul that I’ve met this summer. From the people who became my family and closest friends, to the people that I never got to know deeply, but always were there for me and showed me a good time, to the people that showed me that I don’t need to like everybody and keep everybody close to me, that I cannot click with everyone and that that’s ok, to the people that made a very short appearance in the play that is my life, but certainly all brought something to the mix and last but absolutely not least, to all the children that I’ve had the honour and privilege to meet and hang out with this summer, you gave me so much and it will stay with me forever. Thank you for everything! (Of course a special thank you to the whole Club Magic Life Africana Imperial Team of summer 2014, to you who were there from the beginning, to you who left halfway in, to you who joined in the middle and at the end, i will never forget any of you!)
Now, I’m sat in a coffee shop in central Stockholm, looking out the window and seeing the beautiful swedish architecture, cars with swedish number plates, people rushing by and the tip of my nose is cold for the first time in a very long time. As much as I enjoy it, it’s also a very weird feeling being here. It feels like I never was gone, like it was all just a dream. At the same time I am a changed person, I’ve had so many lessons for life and I’ve added so many people to my extended family. I don’t regret anything that happened this summer. From all the bad things to all the amazing, they were all a part of the big picture. Part of the lesson of life that will one day make me who I am.
I am going to stop rambling and go meet my best friend now. Hope to make writing into a routine again, now that I have more time on my hands.
Lots of love to all my friends around the world,