Well, that goes on record as the weirdest Christmas of my life. Was going to spend it by the pool with friends, but it was a grey, cold day, rained most of it, so stayed tucked up at home. Spoke to no one, saw no one. Oddly quite enjoyed myself. Ate gingerbread and chocolate sent from home, drank a beer and had a Game of Thrones marathon.
I gave my housekeeper leave for a week so that he could spend it with his family who live out of town (wife and baby boy named The Best - which seems a little risky. What if he's the worst at something?).
Anyway. That night I was violently sick. 3:20 in the morning, head down the toilet. Blessedly I had running water the entire night. It's no fun at all throwing up into a toilet you can't flush. Scratch: it's no fun at all throwing up.
Fine the next two nights.
Christiane and her husband Bhaj came to stay. They were in town buying a car. Went out for a lovely Chinese meal.
3:20 (on the dot, again) head down the toilet.
Thankfully I'd digested that lovely meal so it wasn't a waste of money. Yet my body still felt there was something to be ejected. Judging from a Google search of 'the colour of vomit,' mostly just bile.
The only two things I can link to having eaten on those days were chocolate from home and a little alcohol. I wasn't drunk or anything. Now I'm terrified of touching chocolate or alcohol - at Christmas!
Cruel, Fate. Very cruel.
It's New Year tonight and I had promised to go out with friends but I have cancelled. Cold sweats and fairly sure I'm likely to have another rough night. I have a really vague recollection of something like this years before. A bug of some sort where you generally feel absolutely fine, then randomly chuck up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Passes after a week or two. Nothing serious.
So, it's just me and the internet for New Year.
Hardly left the house in a week. Spent the past three days wearing the same clothes. Water came on last night and filled up the butts, so gave myself a proper scrub down earlier and used some nice smelling stuff... which isn't helping with that queasy sensation.
I don't think I have ever spent the festive season so sober or so alone.
You may not believe me, but - apart from the vomiting - it's been blissful. I've always secretly wondered what it would be like to be alone on Christmas. I guess you're suppose to do it once in your life, just for the experience. And I think the experience would be very different if it wasn't through choice. But it was interesting. None of the food and drink overdose of normal Christmases, no family, no comedy repeats on TV, no preparations and present opening. With Damascene away I was free to wander round in my underwear, scratch my arse and slob in the sunshine.
How much of a special day is special because of the day itself, and how much just because we say it should be so? Apparently it's all because we say so. Christmas doesn't happen in Rwanda. We've got one lame tree on the roundabout in town, sponsored by Coca-Cola and tackily decorated with cola bottles. No carols, no real decorations to speak of, nothing you'd recognise as Christmas or even New Year celebrations, even in comparison to Kampala or Freetown. Rwanda is just not a particularly celebratory sort of place.
So that, minus an overabundance of food, minus trash TV = any other day of the year.
"Do they know it's Christmastime?" - Well, yes, but nobody's all that fussed to be honest.
I'm glad I got to experience that. Like I'm glad to have experience Pii Mai in Laos earlier this year. Laos' New Year is basically a giant water fight in the streets, yet in every other part of the world it means absolutely nothing.
Definitely the strangest and most solitary Christmas/New Year of my life. I certainly haven't minded it, but I don't think I'll do it again - health allowing. This time next year I think I'd like to be in a position to fly home and do the traditional knees-up. Though I currently shiver when it's below 17c. I'd probably die of hypothermia in the UK.
Still, better festively freezing than bored. We have a limited number of truly festive days in our lives, seems a shame to waste them.
I've been working on a presentation to do with Disability and Human Rights which I need to deliver on Friday. Went for a Country Director position with a Human Rights organisation. A title that's good for the CV, and an area I'm interested in, but their projects only run a few weeks of the year and it comes with a lot of logistical stuff I don't feel particularly qualified for or enthusiastic about. Won't decide for sure until I've done my presentation and had a proper look at what's involved.
Went out with a friend the other day who is a big reader. She'd been reading some of my stuff and was extremely complimentary. Not because she's a friend, but because she felt I had talent. She told me that if writing is what I really want to do, I should pursue it. Which I am. In lieu of going out tonight, I'm chipping away at my next novel. Almost 3,000 words down already. I can't help feeling that if I'm still writing at midnight the Muse might bless me for the rest of the year.
The more I think about it, the more I know I need to set myself up in such a way that I can work and write, or work to write.
I'm not sure how yet, but hopefully I'll figure it out as the year progresses. I listen to friends working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I hear about how bored they get being confined to their compounds and put on 'lockdown', and all I can think is - you get locked in a room on your own with a computer for hours on end?
Maybe that's the kind of job I need to improve my concentration?
Just thinking out loud.
I'm throwing the dice on a few applications, local and international, and I'll see what crops up.
For now, farewell 2014. It's been a mad, mad year: Belgium, Laos, Kenya, Rwanda... I certainly got to do a lot of travelling. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from 2015, because there isn't really much I want. Time to micromanage the little things and let the bigger things take care of themselves.
Happy New Year!