This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 5/7/2019
Do you remember that one family that you stayed with and you decided to never ever stay at someone’s home again? Or perhaps that one warm family that treated you too well this one time you visited, you now have a permanent suitcase at their home ‘in case’ you need a bed for the night. I bet we all have memories of the places we’ve been to and the different kinds of hosts we’ve met. Some are pretty lovely, some are weird, disgusting, and entertaining…the list is endless. Here are a few examples of the kind of hosts you’re most likely to meet:
1. PANIC MODE:
From the moment you make that phone call on your visit, they become on a panic mode. An emergency general clean-up of the house will be done even when the house was already clean enough. They will over-stock the fridge with all kind of groceries because ‘how will I know what they love?’ They will stress over the ‘master piece’ drawings on the walls done by the children. They will worry about the seemingly old bed sheets. They will overcook for your entire stay. Ask you a hundred times in the least if ‘you need anything’. They will be on their feet as early as 4 a.m. in the morning to ensure breakfast is ready by the time you’re up. It doesn’t matter if you’re a very close family member, a friend or even a colleague, they’ll still overstretch themselves to ensure you have a comfortable stay.
2. VISITORS MEANS FEASTING:
They are the literal example of ‘mgeni aje, mwenyeji apone’ because now that we have visitors, we have the perfect reason to over-spend and over-eat. They will break their piggy banks, pull out the hidden money under the mattress, and withdraw all their savings from the bank just to make the best out of the situation. They will put a pause to their diet and FEAST on all that they couldn’t eat in the past year because now ‘I can’t leave the visitor eat different food. It doesn’t seem good.’ They will go for fancy shopping sprees, spoil the visitor thoroughly while spoiling themselves too. ‘You Only Live Once’ becomes their new daily mantra till the stay is over and they’re left with an empty pocket, debts and some extra kilos of body fat. ‘Welcome back to reality pal!’
3. YOU ARE NOT A VISITOR:
It doesn’t matter what your relationship is with the host or how long you plan to stay but you must play a role in the house chores. They will ensure you help around whether it is by washing the dishes after meals or even picking their child from the day-care in the evening. So long as you eat and sleep in this house, you won’t be favoured in any way. Keep working!
4. THE INTRUDER:
Don’t leave your phone for a second and they’re already deep in the photo gallery, or even worse, replying your messages. They will randomly open your suitcase to peep at your clothes, or use your laptop without your permission. They have no idea whatsoever on how to give one their personal space.
5. THE WARM HOME:
They will make you feel very welcome and ensure that you have the best time at their home. They will entertain you and feed you well. They will sacrifice their time and energy to give you company whenever they can. They ensure you’re comfortable enough to feel free and do as you please in their house.
6. FOOD AND ROOF ONLY:
It is like you’re in a hotel but only difference is you have some ‘company’. They’re present but it’s like you’re non-existent to them. Everyone in the house is busy doing something of their own and the only time anyone talks to you is to call you for a painfully silent meal. Pretty much like those boring hostel roommates at college. You can’t expect anything more from them apart from food and roof. But at least you have that, can you complain really?!
7. AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY
These people will not pretend to be jolly when they’re not. They won’t wear plastered smiles to please you. As long as you’re in the house, you’re in it. You will hear them shouting to each other, throwing abusive words, as you stand by your room door with your mouth agape. You will hear something heavy fall. Someone screaming. Perhaps a chair or the small wooden stool has been thrown. Becomes even worse when it is not just a couple but a family and now everyone is throwing words at everyone and you have absolutely no idea what to do. Should you stay in your room and pretend you see nothing, you hear nothing? Or should you walk out and try calming them down? What do you do at the dinner table when it is all tense and extremely quiet? You have an entire two weeks to figure that out. All the best with your stay though!
8. HINT DROPPER:
‘So when are you planning to go to the City?’
‘When did you say your friend will be picking you up?’
‘My sister has been waiting for me so we travel to Dubai together. I am just here because of you. Ni sawa lakini.’
Your hosts will not fail to drop you hints that it is high time you leave because well, isn’t it high time? They say ‘akufukuzaye hakuambii toka’. So please get the hints and find another place to crash in.
Reflecting back, what kind of host are you? Have you ever thought whether your visitors would ever want to stay with you again or are you the nightmare that made someone’s child despise visiting any home entirely?!