A year ago, I flew from Los Cabos to Ottawa, saw in Halloween at Liam’s house (one helluva party, nephew), then took a bus to New York City. A fortnight later, I returned to Kenya for an indefinite stay, or as long as I could get away with it. I ran a backpackers hostel out of Joe Bennie’s oceanfront villa and spent the rest of my time either at Driftwood or Fishing Club, getting tanked with the locals. I wrote a lot, too, in this drinking village with a fishing problem.
Then, in April, the money ran out. So, I decided to return to Canada.
The emotional journey, too, was a roller coaster. When I left Cabo at the end of October I believed I was saying farewell to my father for the very last time. He’d suffered a stroke and an infection. “It’s probably the last time you’ll see me,” he said when I hugged and kissed him goodbye. “I sure as hell hope so!” he added.
A month later, I was eating focaccia at Rosada restaurant in Malindi when in walked Roberta Romeo, a Sicilian goddess of rare charm and beauty. It all happened so quickly, like Appalonia and Michael in The Godfather: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; Michael, andiamo... BOOM!”
“Careful,” said Barry, when he saw the two of us together at Driftwood, “she’s Sicilian, she’ll cut your throat.”
“No,” said Roberta, flashing me a gap-toothed smile, “I smash on your face.” And so began our whirlwind romance, which lasted through the New Year until the money ran out. Roberta returned to Sicily while I stayed on in Kenya for a bit, prevaricating about my future. But we couldn’t bear being apart and six weeks later we were reunited on Vancouver Island. We’ve been there ever since, putting down roots and building a future. Last month we got married.
I now understand how Fifties Cinema let curvy Italian brunettes like Lollobrigida and Loren steal the limelight from curvy American blondes like Munro and Mansfield. It’s all in their attitude. When my mambo-Italiano bombshell wife spouts forth her hilarious one-liners peppered with pithy Sicilian maledictions, it can sometimes feel like I’m living in a hit sitcom. Pass the pasta!
I’ve grown up fast in these past few months. I did not expect to start a whole new life in my fifties. Repatriating to my home and native land after thirty three years an émigré was in itself a stretch. It helped that just six weeks later I landed such a sweet job: fundraising for Providence Farm. It's been a while since I had a steady job. And now to start the blindingly bureaucratic procedure of sponsoring Roberta so she can freely live and work in Canada, too. Vaffanqulo!
“Am I glad to see you,” said my dad, when Roberta and I stopped by his care home on the way in from the airport. We had just arrived in Los Cabos. Though still bedridden, he’s in pretty good health. And his mind is sound. “Welcome to the family,” he told Roberta.
It’s a year to the day since I left Los Cabos. So, in a manner of speaking, I’ve made ends meet, book-ended my chronospatial trajectory. Wonder where serendipity will take me next? Hold on!