First impressions

There’s the heat. You step off the plane and it submerges you, dresses you in a second and just like that the cool freshness of the North is gone forever.

There are the nocturnal sounds, always surprising to hear on your first night somewhere new. Traffic on the main road not far away; crickets and the buzz of insects; something that sounds like birds’ wings flapping (or are they the rats in the ceiling?), a scrape and a squeak, perhaps of the metal gate outside.

My street


There’s the people: an expat bubble that makes Brussels seem huge. The Africans, warmly welcoming as colleagues, deferential and softly-spoken as waiters. But why do I feel like it’s hard to communicate with them? Many are happier in Swahili, or another language, than English. And even when we speak English, I still don’t understand them, or I don’t manage to get an answer to an apparently simple question.


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