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Published: March 28th 2015
During my first couple of weeks here, one of the most common questions I was asked was ‘Where are you from?’ On replying ‘England’ (or ‘the UK’ or ‘Britain’ or ‘Great Britain’ - why does such a small place have so many names?) I was promptly hailed with suggestions of exactly whereabouts in England I lived. Unfortunately, I am not from Manchester, Liverpool or Chelsea, which for obvious reasons were the most frequently guessed places. Many of the locals here haven’t heard of even Leeds or Newcastle, so trying to explain where York is results in a very vague geographical explanation, usually going something like: ‘It’s in the North ... no, not Scotland ... not that close to Scotland really ... but not close to London either ... or on the coast ... sort of opposite Manchester?’ ‘Ah Manchester!’
However, the precise geographical location of my birthplace is ultimately not very important in my relationships here. A more representative description of the people here would be that they are friendly, open, and enthusiastic. My boyfriend has already established a playful and friendly rapport with the majority of the staff we work with, and I also feel generally accepted and welcome.
I’m not sure whether it’s a cultural respect which keeps some of the guys from fist-bumping me like they do my boyfriend, or my natural shyness - it’s probably a bit of both. However, the restraints are gradually relaxing, and the personalities of the people I meet on a daily basis are starting to shine through.
A particularly lovely girl named Harriet who waitresses at the hotel was recently off sick, and I saw her again for the first time today. I rushed over, practically tossing my plate of toast out of my hands, and gave her a hug. She hugged and kissed me back, calling me ‘wifi’ (pronounced wee fee), which is an affectionate Swahili term translating (as I understand it) to ‘sister-in-law’. The reason I was so happy to see her well again was because she has a beautiful smile for everyone, and one of the sweetest temperaments I have ever seen. She also calls me ‘beauty-face’, which is definitely one way to get into my good books, despite the fact that she is in fact extremely beautiful herself. Another waitress is a lady named Grace, who has a similarly glowing, ear-to-ear smile. Both Grace and Harriet came and sang and danced with us on the beach one night after dinner, throwing their hearts and souls into it and making us feel genuinely loved.
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