Thursday, July 30, 2015

Snake Park Surrealism

Went to the snake park the other day.

To ride the camels.

As you do.

And there was a gospel choir making a music video. On camelback.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Veranda Views

So moved in to a new house... well almost a year ago now! It's only about 300m from our old house so still up on da hill with some awesome views. So this means no more picture window, but I'll take some veranda views instead. Here are some for now!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Flashbacks

Lunch at Kimemo today. Big deep green sea of a lawn that the kids roll around on like nutters, sinking up to their knees in the prickly softness. Makes a change from our scrubby acacia hill. The Mountain smack bang in the middle of your view. An elegant French couple complete with very small and very loved puppy were there having lunch. The kids took a great shine to said beloved dog and decided to (gently) prod and play much to the nervous glances of EFC - Elegant French Couple. Then Tom and Lara started running around with the teeny tiny puppy chasing them. 

If this were a movie we'd now have a flashback to me as a ten year old girl. Grubby, gangly, big kneed. Legs and face streaked with dirt. Feral creature that I was. My friend Luke and I are going to Caro's house in the cropping compound not far from camp. Luke is quite a few years younger than me but we are fast and firm friends. We walk along the bank of the ox-bow lagoon, the hippos grunting below munching past the nile cabbage. We pass the baobab tree where we munch on the fruit when it's in season; crack open the furry green shell and eat the pulpy white powder inside until our teeth go all furry. We pass the wildlife offices with the room filled with rhino skulls. And on to Caro's house.

Caro is Luke's nanny and we often go to her place and hang out, play with the other kids in the compound. The cropping compound is where the game scouts mostly live. Its a collection of small brick houses, red polished floors. That funny knobbled cement finish on the outside that seemed to be the trend in the '70s in that part of the world. There are a couple of small smokey grass cooking huts, dark and eye stingy when you go inside. On the far edge is a little makeshift veggie garden with a few scraggy greens pushing their way through the soil. Its surrounded by a grass fence to keep the elephants and baboons out...not that it does. In the middle of the compound is a water pump. The kind that you need to pump a handle up and down until the water comes gushing out.          

Caro is not from here, I think she feels like a bit of an outsider. She's from town, she wears jeans. Looking back on it now I think she was probably quite lonely, I don't think she was very popular. But Luke and I adore her.  Her house is like all the others but is special to us because it's hers. She has a couple of old rusty milk powder tins outside with elephant ears growing in them and a couple of hardy creepers clinging to her wall.  

She keeps ducks. They hiss and waddle about the place chattering up bits of whatever they can find in the skanky water. Her ducks have babies. They are soft and downy and very very cute. She gives Luke and I one each that we keep at her place and visit when we're over. Mine is brown and yellow and fluffy and adorable. 

One day we're playing by the water pump. Running around and around the cement base chasing each other. The game is fun and we're laughing that belly laugh that kids can do so well. I'm running away or maybe I'm chasing, I forget. Suddenly I tread on something and I slip. I skid for a good couple of metres (it seems) on my baby duck. Squashed. Red, raw and slippery. I can still feel that moment now, the absolute horror of what I'd just done. Slapstick and tragedy in one fell swoop.

If this were the movies there's be some profound reason for this flashback, cleverly linking in to the story as a whole. But it's not and it doesn't. Except maybe that its one other little experience that's made me me. 

I'm glad Tom and Lara didn't repeat this little incident on EFC beloved little puppy. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Holey novel, holey road

I'm sure most of us have got an unwritten or half finished novel itching under our skin. I know I am not unique in this. I should take heed of that thing that was going around Facebook a while ago. Rules for writing a novel. 
Think of an idea for a novel.
Write it
 or summin like that anyway. 

Mine is very much like the road that is being built near our house at the moment. They started off with great enthusiasm and gusto. All the equipment, the planning - with their funny little dumpie levels and lumo jackets. They made diversions and brought in lorry loads of gravel and cement and tar. And then it all started crumbling. The enthusiasm lagged. The diversions got so waterlogged people had to drive on the half finished road, buggering up all the work that had been done so far. They've done some very good sections (even tidied up the sides of the road when they've finished) yet there are stretches that are still muddy and bumpy and all dug up. They're getting there though, soon it will be finished I'm sure. I'm not sure what they're going to do when they get to our turn off, right by a karongo where they can't make a diversion. Maybe they have a plan. Maybe it'll come to them at the last minute. 

I'm hoping the same can be said for my very unfinished book (with a couple of completed sections somewhere in the middle). I am reminded of it every time I drive the road tho, so maybe that's the impetus I need to keep going. We'll see. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tidying Procrastinations

Tidy tidy tidy.

Long overdue.

When we first moved here 6 years ago we had so little. It all fitted in the back of our Land Rover.

And now we have so much Stuff, spilling out the seams of our little pink adobe house. We move into a bigger house in July and no doubt we'll have even more Stuff to fill that house too.

My parents-in-law were in the army and had to move every 2 years. Get rid of what they needed, pack up and move on. My side of the family don't have much truck for Stuff either. My grandfather lived in a little wooden house with very little. My parents are the same. And we don't have anything fancy. Au contraire. But somehow we have a collection of Things. Broken torches, bits of old tap, pens that don't work. I'm doing a big cleanout right now and it feels gooood. (Actually right now I'm writing a blog. Procrastinating. It's a strength of mine).

Any clothes that I haven't worn for a few months. Out! Out! Out! (I have a mitumba* problem though, so my clothes seem to just multiply, like amoebas or something. Or like those exotic plants that you cut back and they just grow back twofold, with more vigour).

Tidying up the office now and I find papers and files from when I gave birth. Remembering the squished purpleness of those little sausages. Thinking they were so very perfect and adorable at the time. And you look at pictures of their newborness now and realise how damn ugly and last-tomato-in-the-fridge they were. Still perfect and adorable but ugly-perfect and adorable! Midwife reports, vaccination certificates. New life admin.

And I find a notebook. Big and black and sturdy. I peel back the cover and feel a stab in my solar plexis. Lots of little notes and drawings and plans. Some in my hand, some in Musa's. Drawings on how to make a lifesize elephant with two actors inside. Scrawled notes in Musa's hand on human-wildlife conflict plays that we performed. Parts of a radio drama script we wrote. Scribbled actor IOUs and little mini budgets and timetables. I miss him so.

This one I shall keep.

And now it's time to get back to it. Lets see what other little treasures I can find.


*mitumba - second hand clothes from the market

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ode to Jesse




Katete river picnic

Warning: over-sentimental gush coming your way. Humour me will ya? (or just skip to the pictures, that's also fine).



















Pontoon over the Luangwa River

Jesse and I were meant to be. I first saw her parked in the dusty carpark at Kapani and I said to the person I was with 'I want that car'. She was nothing special, really, but I fell in love immediately. An ex army series III landrover  that a pilot had recently imported from the UK. She was painted matt black with white squares on the door. I coveted her for a moment, sighed, and moved on.

My grandfather - who was such an anchor in my life - was dying at the time. He had recently been flown to South Africa for treatment and a couple of days later I caught a lift to Joburg in a little aeroplane to see him and, as it turns out, to be with him when he died. It was a little eight seater plane or even smaller, I forget. When I got to the airport I saw the car again, parked under the shade of the flamboyant tree, all smart and proud. Turned out one of the pilots who was flying us to Joburg was the owner.

I bumped into him again a few months later, after my grandfather had died, and mentioned his car - he told me he was selling it.

And so my life with Jesse began. I scraped together my earnings from working a season in safaris and, with a little help from my dad (Thanks Ray. He's actually called Vic but when it comes to money he calls himself Ray. Ray will pay!) I managed to buy her. For the first few months I polished that car til she shone like an alien spaceship. I was like a ninja with those rags n polish. Wax on wax off. Oh no, that's something else. You know what I mean though, right?

I went to the capital to pick her up. We met at McGuinty’s to hand over the papers and keys. McGinty’s, as the name suggests, was one of those pretend Irish bars at the Holiday Inn, complete with leprechaun and 4 leaf clover deco. What is it with that? Anyway, watering holes were fairly few and far between back then, so it was something of the local hang out. Huw, my boyfriend at the time, and I got into a major messy public fight that night. I look back on it with a mixture of red-cheeked awe with a twist of cringe. There were accusations, there was shouting, tussling and falling over. None of it my fault, of course! And yes, all compounded by copious amounts of booze. Getting that car was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Huw. We’d been together since I was 18 or 19 and I guess the car symbolised my new found freedom, in more ways than one.

We drove her from Lusaka back home. I named her Jesse. As in Jesse a boy's name but somehow with time she morphed into a girl. It happens to the best of us.



She was with me through the labour pains of setting up my theatre company. Piled high with actors and bumping along the rough roads of Nsefu, Kakumbi, Masumba and Jumbe. She worked overtime. We all did. Sleeping in dusty back-of-beyond villages, researching, rehearsing, performing. She was a changing room, a backstage, our transport. Everything.





She was also the perfect sundowners vehicle. The gameviewing seats were part of my payment working a season as a safari guide .I look through my photos now and every single one of them has a bottle of beer or wine on the dashboard. If it's not visible then I'll bet you my life savings (you'll be RICH!) that there's a cooler box in the back filled to the brim.

Spot the beer







Dodgy, DODGY pose, and for that I apologise!

And that, my dear lone and  patient reader, is my life with Jesse. And now I'm looking to sell her. Ouuuuoooooccchhhh. Rip her from my sweaty clutches. Hey it's okay, the car will go but the memories will not. (unless I get a severe knock on the head and find myself in a soap opera with amnesia. In which case I'll have this blogpost to remind me)....

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Stuck Record

Yes I'm still here.

Yes I plan to blog more.

No maybe not right now.

I'll be back tho, I promise!