My mind often strolls through time back to my stay in the Horn of Africa as a volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya. Like many volunteers, I had the pleasure of living with a family whose hospitality was remarkably gracious.
Their generosity especially touched me after I went through the scary, if not comedic, the experience of being locked in their European-styled bathroom while they were shopping at the local market. I walked into the washroom to enjoy a somewhat rare shower. Upon closing the door the handle to the Chinese-made door fell off, locking me in.
To make matters worse I had bolted the internal lock on the front door thereby preventing the family’s reentry into the middle-class apartment. Needless to say, at that point I was more than terrified, believing I would starve to death in a bathroom in Africa. I worked to escape the confined space without much luck. I tried climbing out of the makeshift transom only to lose my way and fall directly into the plastic toilet, breaking it into what seemed to be a million pieces. After having broken several other parts of the bathroom I managed to escape my confinement. But I had lived to tell my host-family what I had done; destroy their bathroom. Luckily they were extremely forgiving. After a few hours, I had managed to “remodel” their bathroom for less than the cost of a car battery. Thankfully, the evening ended with a bit of debauchery with my local friends over a few Tuskers.
Finally, as an additional aside and as I was about to depart Kenya on the return flight home, after having demolished the washroom of my host family, I was honored to receive a parting gift from the local friends I’d met along the way. I assume for my idealistic, if not ill-fated attempt to change the world. They presented me with a hand-painted canvas. On it was a lion painted to resemble the Kenyan Shilling, spear and all. However, replacing the face of the lion was my image; one I assume they had hijacked from my Facebook page.
Despite the difficulties of traveling around with world with a delicate painting such as this, I was undeniably touched by their attempt to ensure I wouldn’t forget my time with them. Something that’s in no danger of ever happening.
Upon returning home from my extended travels my “painting” was an immediate hit with friends, family, and colleagues. The latter seemed to especially enjoy it as they plastered photos of it around my office to the bemusement of many I’m sure.