Often people tell me “I want your life”, they say it because they look at the dreamy and etherial pictures I post on IG but we all know that life behind our instagram pic looks nothing like that. My life, in fact, It’s often a total mess and here is a taste of it!
It’s 5.30 am and my eyes are wide open, staring at the ceiling through the mosquito net.
I’m gonna fucking kill that damn rooster!
He’s been crowing like a maniac—right under my window—for the last 40 minutes. If he doesn’t shut up, I swear I’m gonna cook him for dinner! (Ok, maybe I won’t, that wouldn’t be good Karma, I know.)
I’m particularly irritable when I’m in between jobs.
I try to go back to sleep but my feathery friend doesn’t think I deserve any rest and keeps his fucking cock-a-doodle-doo game strong, now joined by some annoying and agonizingly loud geese.
I give up, get up and put some water on the stove.
I need caffeine and I need it now!
It’s a rainy morning in Arusha. It’s humid out but the air is fresh, a good change considering I’ve been breathing heat and dust for the last two weeks.
I just finished a job with an ngo in Moshi and I’m about to start a new gig with a local safari company. Time seems to never be enough when I’m working: after shooting all day, I still have hours of work left at my computer once I get back in the evening, and that leaves very little room to rest or do anything else. I’m always tired and sleep deprived, my brain is fried and foggy, but I shouldn’t complain. I am blessed to get to live this kind of life and I chose it for myself.
I get back to the kitchen, my only option is some shitty instant coffee and Nestlè powder milk…I hate that shit! When I finally put some caffein into my body—maybe a placebo effect—I instantly feel better.
This apartment is dingy and dark—but there is hot running water and that’s not something to give for granted!—not my favorite conditions to write but I sit down and start typing. I go on for about an hour and I get interrupted by a knock on the door. It’s my driver, he’s early. I finish typing the sentence, pound down the rest of my, now cold, coffee, grab my bag and leave the compound.
While we sit in traffic I text my best friend, Natascia, and tell her about my last few days. Her answer is something along the lines of “You crazy bitch! you’re irresponsible as always, you’ll get yourself killed one day”.
She’s referring to the fact that I never met the guy I’m going to be working with. We exchanged some emails and spoke at the phone once. He said he’ll send a driver to pick me up in Moshi and bring me to Arusha, they have a company compound and I could stay there instead of getting a hotel room….sounded good to me! That’s actually the way I usually do business, I rarely meet the people I work with face to face before the gig, and by now I developed a pretty good bullshit radar and I can tell right away if I can trust someone or not. (My instinct just knows if they are legit or if they are potential Jeffrey Dahmers!)
I understand my friend’s concern though: she knows me and my degree of unsafeness way too well! I understand why for some people it would seem dodgy to jump in a car with a complete stranger that brings you to a compound in the middle of nowhere…but I know what I’m doing. My life is full of moments like these, it has been for years. Natascia makes me notice that most of the times no one on earth knows exactly where I am, so I agree that from now on I will always send her my location when I’m working alone in seemingly dodgy conditions. She seems happy about it!
I’m pulled off my virtual rimming by a banging noise. A guy on a bike just smashed into the side of our car. He keeps going like nothing happen though!
The traffic is crazy, cars and people stacked on each other, a motorbike zig zags through the line of cars ignoring any existing law of physics, a dala dala—the local version of a bus—comes straight at us on the wrong side of the road, men scream from their sidewalk stalls full of sunglasses and keychains to grab passerby’s attention, a lazy goat waits patiently to cross the street, whiffs of fried food and dried fish pierce through the car ventilation system enwrapping us while rain comes down like there’s no tomorrow. Oh Africa!
We finally get to the office and I meet the Boss. He’s younger than I had imagined him. Nice guy, not very talkative but definitely not the Jeffrey Dahmer type! We sit in a meeting and go through the content I’ll be creating for them, a few hours later we are on the same page and ready to leave for Serengeti tomorrow!
The office has pretty fast wifi so I stick around all afternoon to get some work done (always best to take advantage of those good wi-fi moments!).
After a few productive hours I start losing my focus. I should be answering emails and make my shot list for tomorrow but my stupid monkey mind starts wandering…from incredibly inappropriate sexual fantasies involving a guy I worked with a while back that had just texted me the night before, to stupid irrational performance fears about the work I’m here to do, to irrelevent to do lists of things I’ll never remember to do. I always feel a bit restless the day before starting a new gig but today I’m way more antsy than usual. (might be the goat blood I drank last week to please my Maasai hosts that kindly welcomed me to their village?!😂)
Fuck it, I can’t focus. I call it a day. My driver brings me to a nearby restaurant to get some take out dinner and drops me back at the compound. After eating I light up an incense—i always bring a box of incense with me when I travel, unless I’m going to India or Bali, they have amazing incense there!—I sit down cross legged on the floor, I close my eyes and meditate for 20 minutes.
Weird wordless feelings come up, I don’t give them a name, I just observe.
When I open my eyes again I feel much better and I realize: I am about to go back to the wild, that’s what I am scared about.
Last time I went on a Safari, I was in a transitional time of my life, I knew something had to change but I din’t know what. And then, out of nowhere, like a strong and unbearably painful slap in the face, while watching a giraffe running I caught a glimpse of what life really meant and I understood that my life in NYC wasn’t meant for me anymore…I had to leave my city, my love, my world. And a few months later I found myself donating almost all of my belongings to one of the East Village’s homeless shelter and buying a one way ticket to the world.
I, once again today, feel like something needs to change. What though, I have no fucking idea, but I have a feeling I might be about to find out.
Who knows what kind of magic the animals will work on me this time… ✨
I’ll keep you posted 😉