An expedition in Kenya was 10 weeks long. After which many of my friends would head home. So at week 9, we made sure to party like it was our last days on earth.
It was Friday. It felt like the last day of school. The air was filled with a palpable hue of excitement and anticipation. Everyone was looking forward to the weekend where I was promised a party of great magnitude, a drunken, no-holds-bared sloshfest with only one rule, Drink like you mean it! I kept hearing stories of how epic the last one was. Think Animal House goes on safari.
My spirit couldn’t get there fast enough! I could feel that part of me, full of anxiety and excitement to start drinking immediately to absorb every second of good times the weekend had to offer. My body and mind however, were shattered. I was emotionally overwhelmed for unknown reasons with muscles like Jello and feeling beyond tired. I needed rest. I needed time to myself to collect my thoughts. But the excitement of this chapter in my life trumped every intuitive sign I received about my health.
“I’m not dealing with this right now. I am living my dream in Africa and nothing will stop me from having the best time ever!”
A short two hour ride in a matatu to the coastal tourist town of Diani, Kenya had us at the supermarket buying supplies for the weekend. Mostly booze. We would then split into groups and proceed to our prospective hostels and start drinking. Later we would regroup for dinner and then hit the clubs!
When I think of Kenya and my time there, this image always come to mind. Of my favorite club, a place on the beach called Forty Thieves. It was amazing! It was a bar where the whole back side was open to the ocean and the sound of music would carry for miles. My favorite people and I would laugh, drink wine, get crazy and dance barefoot on the sandy, brick floor till our feet hurt. We went there almost every weekend and in that place, the passage of time eluded us all. Every time, without fail, I would dance all night, a drink in my hand and eventually be stunned to find the sun coming up!
This is one of the most uplifting experiences of my life, dancing barefoot in the sand, all night without a care in the world. To this day I still request Beautiful People by Chris Brown, a popular song then, when I’m at a wedding or club. No one ever plays it though… bummer.Dance till the sun comes up! No matter what! #Kenya #Party Click To Tweet
The weekend of the week 9 party though was a shit show. My friends were barfing in the sand, stepping on broken glass, hooking up with each other, you name it. And that monkey stole my sangria…
The pressure I felt to keep going was a little much for me however.
I inhale another drag of my Safari Blue and hum quietly to myself. The smoky heat from the cigarette rises in the air, close to my face and burns my eyes, so I close them. I exhale and open my eyes to suddenly realize the sun was coming up. Morning was upon me. “I’ve been drinking all night.” Everyone else passed out hours ago, but I stayed awake, to keep the party going, alone and sitting on a throne of empty wine bottles, mud and a scattered deck of cards. I try to clear my head as I look about me and piece together the depravity of recent events. But I’m in a fog. I can barely hold a sentence together. I finally stand up, defeated yet comforted by the sleep soon to come. But just then, I sense movement in my shared room. My friends were waking up! I shake off the need for sleep and join them for morning cocktails. I couldn’t miss out on this.
That weekend I stayed awake for 40 hours, drinking most of the time. I felt sick, and lightheaded but wouldn’t allow myself to skip any of the party to rest. I couldn’t handle the thought of being left out.
This was a paradox I still don’t quite get. How I knew I needed time to myself, while at the same time fighting to be around everyone too?! It was tearing me apart, and I could feel it in my bones. But without knowing how to describe these emotions much less release them, I drank instead. I guess I was hoping it would drown out any discomfort I was feeling, and replace it with a cloudy, numbness where I didn’t feel anything at all.
On Sunday, the silent, hungover and awkward ride back to our village was a long one. I felt like death. We slept the rest of the day, roused ourselves briefly to eat dinner then collapse into bed once more. Mission accomplished.
One more week of wildlife conservation work led to the end of the expedition. There was a wrap up party, similar to the one described above, but tamed down due to nostalgia and heartfelt goodbyes because we were losing many of our friends. Their time in Kenya was over. Mine on the other hand, was only half way!