Today I sit on my perch, on the outside looking in. On this particular day the white light of Mombasa frames the scene. Constant humming of foreign languages broken by tinkling glassware and spoons. Causal mounds of people sitting around, conversing, silence fills the space between the easy flow of travel plans, social plans and whatever plans. I am the soloist, also relaxed, watching, wondering, what fills their day? What brings them here? As I do the African Stare, the African’s are not bashful about looking squarely in the eyes from across the room, my mind softens and I smile at the little curious girl staring at me sipping at her soda while her elders sit back engaged, heads bobbing in agreement. We hold the moment for a few minutes. Black woman come and order Fanta. They wait, patiently for their next meal ticket. Expats smile and jovially join them. When I first found out that in Mombasa there were scores of expats, my mind filled scenes from James Bond movies. Slick hair, causally opened button shirts revealing a tanned toned frame, private jets taking off from the beach and eyes that could leave you hot, speechless and sweating. I envisioned these expats to look like Daniel Craig, Pierce Bronson and the young Sean Connery and of course me, the next Ms. Andress Bond girl…SCRATCH… not so much, these for real expats are weathered hairy beasts! Stagnant and complacent in their current lives and preferring the local flavor, re-living the salad days of their youth.
I notice the differences in the people at cafes here than in Vancouver. In Vancouver people walk through the doors of the trendiest local serving primo coffee like they would walk down a red carpet. Instantly composed, materialistically assured, closing the curtain to any glimmer of internal grace compassion or inspiration. The café at large already diligently self-consumed also intently pretending not notice those walking though the door.