Our New Normal

We're biking along the savannah at Hell's Gate National Park. To our left are warthogs, to our right are a herd of zebras. We cruise along the dusty, rocky path with the sun beating down on our mzungu skins, but with the breeze whipping through our hair and cooling off our sweaty backs. It's a glorious moment, one of those "holy-shit-my-life-is-basically-a-movie-right-now-possibly-even-better" moments. I can't help but yell out a reminder, "guys, we're in Africa...this is your life right now!!!". A resounding "WOOHOOO!!!" with arms up in the air from the rest of the crew. This is real life, this is our normal.

I grab an orange Fanta after the long hike through the gorge. As I reach for the bottle, the man in military garb touches my arm with a quizzical look on his face. "Tattoo?", he asks me. l smile and reply. "It's a tree from my favorite book called The Giving Tree". I explain the story as briefly and simply as I can and its underlying message of unconditional love. I show him the initials of my parents that are engraved on the tree. He smiles and just nods his head. "Kwaheri", I wave goodbye. Did I ever think I'd be chatting with a Kenyan army man about The Giving Tree? Can't say I ever did. But I walked away and continued on sipping my Fanta like that interaction was the most normal encounter...

Yesterday morning, I was sitting on a stump in front of Lake Naivasha enjoying a moment's respite as I read The Dharma Bums. A baboon casually scampers on in front of me. I'm distracted for a second as my eyes follow to see where it runs off to. I snicker at myself and whisper under my breath with a combination of both amusement and annoyance, "pfffttt, baboons". So brief a moment and I'm back enveloped in my book.

All these crazy things that just a week ago I would never have imagined my life to be. And yet, here I am. And there it all is in front of me, around me. And it all just feels like the most normal, natural thing on Earth.

But then again...what is normal? Who defines "normal"? We all do. And today, sitting in the hot, humid air of Kisumu City in a cyber cafe is my normal.