Monday, December 24, 2012

-- "Retrospecticus" (as seen on The Simpsons) --

Another year went by. A friend of mine had me thinking about my blog for the past days and how everything started in here as she is thinking about pursuing the same dream, she has got the Traveling bug now.

I am at work with not many things to do and decided to give my blog a big browse, one of those browses you almost never allow yourself to do because you are afraid of what you might remember or what you might miss.

I have read each post I have written in here for the past three and a half years now. A naive 22-year old who started writing about the world he was seeing in the most clueless way. A painful good-bye. A change of setting to a place that not only embraced me as a resident, but a place I now call home.

2012 will be remember as an extremely intense year (and a year when I finally broke the "even numbered-years curse"). A 365-days time frame in which I experimented intense feelings of love, tears of happiness included, towards my family and friends when I saw them after a long two-year gap, excitement about the discovery of new iconic places in the Americas and Europe, a bitter awareness of the world that surrounds us and the willing of doing something to help in Africa, and the most important one, feelings of gratitude towards God for allowing me to experience all of this in order to develop as a person.

I look back at my last Christmas in 2011, it was a time of hope. Today , I look into the year standing in front of me as an opportunity to keep on growing and sharing. In the end, the world did not finish in 2012 so I will take it as a sign.



Also, for the first time , my travel articles will be published. A Tourism-oriented magazine in the tropical lands of Bolivia, South America called "Yvi Pora" will feature a section on my overseas adventures (in Spanish), meaning the "Flying Camba" is being officially recorded in physical tangible material.

To keep it short, I want to wish all of my readers a Happy Christmas and an excellent 2013.Also, I want to thank each one of you because you are the fuel that motivated me into writing and discover yet another one of my passions. This piece of website full with apparently "fun and interesting rubbish" and a step on the goal I have set myself to reach: 100 visited countries before I am thirty years-old.

From Dublin in the green island of Ireland and with the background song of one of my Christmas favourites,  best wishes and a big thank you.

The Pogues - Fairytale of New York





Flying Camba.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

-- Asante Africa! See you soon. --

The good-bye mood had already been set yesterday and today I woke up with a feeling of tiredness and somehow the anxiety of finishing a journey and the desire of arriving home invades my body.

I find myself wandering around Stone Town for the last time, just as the sun comes out of its night lethargy on the other side of the world. I hadn`t manage to sleep overnight thanks to a rather dodgy dog howling outside my window all night long.
For the first time, Stone Town becomes my private playground as stores are closed, tourists are still asleep and only a few vendors are around the street preparing their carts and stalls with a variety of products. As I walk around Forodhani Park , I see a numerous amount of fishing boats unloading their lucrative load of different types of fish and sea food.
I rush back through the narrow empty streets into the market for a last look and nobody is around. I find a place to buy chapatti from and for seconds, I am immersed in a typical Zanzibarian scene when a woman, covered in a colourful burkha, cooks the chapatti in a worn out steel pan set above an open fire in an old house. Other women around her, vigorously wash colourful pieces of garment in buckets full of water and just stare at me as I purchase these African delicatessens which are enjoyed a few minutes later with some Tanzanian coffee and water by the Port.

 
 

The first ferry of the day is seeing arriving and that is my final cue for grabbing my backpack and leaving the island. At this point I am in no point, interested in seeing the city anymore. My mind is tired of the hassling, the haggling, the stalking.
I leave the house/lodge and quickly rush through the now busy streets of Zanzibar Town. I witness a fight between the driver and a passenger when boarding the dalla-dalla. Luckly enough, it only takes us 20 minutes to clear the distance between the messy main market and the International Airport.
My flight leaves in over four hours but I just do not care. At this point, I feel the airport is the only safe place for my mind. It is fresh , sheltered from the heat and the fly-catchers.
For some reason the hours do fly-by as I watch the dynamic of a place featuring all sorts of passengers. From overly tanned Italians and Spanish, to group of British students, to simple backpackers and rich Omani families on holiday. They all enjoyed their time in this little piece of paradise and are now ready to leave. Memories, tans and smiles all around, it is the first airport in the world where I can not seem to spot a sad good-bye.
Right in the end of the afternoon, my little flight is finally called for check-in. Takes no more than five minutes to clear up the check-in formalities and enjoy the ‘privilege’ of using the air conditioned boarding room until we are called to the hot tarmac and into our little 14-seater Cessna.
The flight is full this time and just before I notice, the same feeling of rushing in a car and suddenly float in the air repeats as we fly off the Spice Island.
The sun is setting and colours the sea in a beautiful tone of silver. The Zanzibar Strait underneath our plane looks busy and we start our descent only ten minutes after take-off. This one is particularly bumpy due to late afternoon winds.

 

Dar Es Salaam looks intimidating through my window. I don’t have time nor intention to see it. We touchdown and notice we are one of the last flights of the day. The sun finally sets and the temperature becomes milder.

 
I walk from the domestic terminal to the main Julius Nyerere International Airport watching the dynamics of the busiest city in Tanzania. Kids leaving school, cramped old buses with people hanging off their doors and rickshaws fighting their way around with boda-bodas.
I find shelter (and a free phone charger) in the main terminal. Around me, only tourists are awaiting for their flights. A Qatar Airways plane leaving for Doha brings back memories and I proceed to check-in where I avoid overpaying an imposed airport tax which I had already paid when purchasing my ticket, teaching me how important it is to check the "Tax and Surcharges" part of all e-tickets, and immigration which surprisingly takes no time.
The old-fashioned open ceiling terminal becomes my shelter for a couple of hours while our plane lands from Zurich via Nairobi and turns around.
Only around 30 people take the flight along with me and we are soon on our way to nearby Nairobi. We land around an hour and a half later and the plane crowds with people. It is a full house back to Europe.
Congested traffic in one of the busiest airports in Africa, we take-off late at night leaving the oldest continent in the world behind and ending an epic three-week adventure.
Zurich follows with the early rays of sunshine. Queue here, escalator there, SkyTrain somewhere and I find a nice place to have a lay down and unsuccessfully try to find some free wi-fi.


My flight to Dublin is full as well and as a Swiss Airlines statement we depart on schedule. It is cold and sunny in the Alps. The landscape reminds me I am going back to face to cold winter season. I see the White Cliffs of Dover, Wales, Southern Ireland and a thick layer of black rainy clouds welcome me back as we fly over Dublin City Centre and the Northside.



Three weeks ago , I left Ireland with an idea of the things I was going to find and experience in this new adventure. I had a brief idea of what the experience was going to be like but absolutely nothing could prepare me for the amount of places, the amount of people and most importantly, the amount of experiences I had in Africa.
It was a trip completely different from the rest; my comfort zone was clearly violated and expanded in many levels. I felt sad, alone, worried, happy, stoked, amazed and most importantly, thankful for what I have.
 Africa changed the way I now look at many things in life and that’s what traveling is all about. I clear immigration and customs and a breeze of cold and wet weather strikes my tanned skin. I am back in Dublin, I am home.