|Title:||love, live and death|
|Location:||nairobi, kenya (1746m)|
|Text:||53 194 kilometres on the road
did you ever see two birds so much in love, and so distanced from the rest of the world, that they prefer to be swinging head down from a cable, side by side, rather than sitting on it?
they first caught my attention when i observed them from the kitchen window as they were chasing each other in their mating ritual: teasing, offering, then withdrawing, jumping and escaping from one electricity cable to another, only to attract attention again by dancing up and down while showing off their beautiful, long tail feathers.
now they are close together, quiet and side by side, head down while their long tail feather point high into the sky. they are showing the rest of the world that up is to where their heads points while everyone else is standing on their heads.
that was yesterday. today i went back to the kitchen from where i saw them still hanging there, motionless, their feathers now dull and ugly, swinging stiffly in the wind. they were dead.
a rush of utter disappointment came over me and i felt like a little boy who realizes for the first time that there is no man in the moon, that his mother is filling the socks on christmas, and that grandfather will never return from his long trip.
they must have been dead all the time while i thought them to be showing off their affection for each other and their indifference to the rest of the world. they must have received a shock when they touched two electricity cables at same time, dying immediately in the middle of their mating game; true love until death.
there are no guarantees in live and security is a myth. death is always luring around the corner, teasing us into his traps and surprising us when we least expect it. in europe we fight death; we exclude it from our lives, cover it up immediately where it occurs and ban it from our thoughts. about death we only whisper. we dismiss it into the corner of high age, hospitals and distant battlefields.
it has no place in a society that regards death before seventy as premature and that wraps itself into a virtual safety of insurance policies, vitamin tablets and esoteric exercises. our dead disappear immediately from the scene of an accident, only to be seen later in a morgue, hands folded, make-up applied and with a stitched-in smile. the real face of death, to us, is unnatural, distant and strange.
in africa death is everywhere. it's visible in its true, ugly but honest form; it lives in the houses of the people who consult their deceased ancestors for advice; here death is a fact of everyday life. the cycle of birth, live and death is normal and the rapid natural 'turnover', due to high birthrates and low live expectancy lead to a natural feeling of mortality and personal insignificance.
travelling on my motorbike i am potentially shortening my life. but, at the same time, i am also living more intensely and therefore longer – longer than most people. on my trip i am moving in a different realm, where time has another meaning altogether. here i am acquiring an enormous wealth of experience, friendships, knowledge and memories. and every day on the road brings new challenges, fears and joys.
would i return to switzerland now, people would tell me that nothing had changed since my departure, that it felt 'like yesterday' when i had said goodbye and that it was unbelievable how fast time is passing. "oh, but yes! anna has gotten married, peter is now director at the bank, and the little italian restaurant, down at the corner, is now a mc-donald's".
there is more to the world of adventure that what you can ever find on discovery channel: an unlimited richness of things to learn and see, open only to the one who is willing to take the risks and who is prepared to give up his so-called safety at home. the richness of the 'westerner' is less defined by material advantages than by the free choice of how we want to live our lives.