Sunday, November 16, 2008

Then and now - same same sugar same

Every morning at about quarter to five the baboons jump on my roof. There is about 3 millimetres of tin roof between me and the thudding of baboon, dropping from where they roost a few metres up in the tree above the roof. And I swear to god it sounds like they are dropping a piano or a cast-iron bath onto the roof. And then they spend the next 40 minutes full of the joys of dawn running up and down the roof. Right above my head. Up and down, up and down, wearing massive big cement boots. You know it’s coming but every morning its heart-leaping-onto-the-pillow fright at the sound. Man. So needless to say it’s been early mornings for me since I’ve been here.

The rains have started, the cicadas are so loud they sound like they’ll vibrate your ears off, and it’s the beginning of 5 months of rain rain rain. Mud mud mud.

My mother showed me an e-mail I sent to her in mid December 2002. It went like this:

“How is it that our poor little human brains always forget about the rains and all she brings. It surprises me every time. So everyone is gasping in horror that five cars slipped off Jake’s new road into the mud axle deep (to Jake’s particular horror – just as he fixed it up) and that salt doesn’t come out of the salt cellar and that Georgina got bitten by a scorpion THREE times in bed, and that mosquito bites are starting to fester and that the Chipata road has been washed away with the BP and Christmas supply trucks lined up behind the washed away bit and wondering what the bollocks to do NOW. And that the toilet seats are always wet and you’re never sure if its wee or rain water. And that the cat looks PERMANENTLY bedraggled and PISSED OFF. And the phones? Why on earth don’t THE PHONES FUCKING WORK??? Oh and the rotting flying ants in the light fittings. Oh, you know it all, you’ve been there too (but do you REALLY remember or is it blocked from your memory like it seems to be from mine.)

“…………everyone is discussing turkey carols over the phone constantly over the radio. Along with ‘so-and-so is stuck in the mud’ please send help.

“There is the hugest croc lurking in the mud in the lagoon. Eeeeee”

So compared to this year (one month earlier):

-Haven’t heard of anyone slipping off the road yet but will start happening soon, though. One more big storm.
- Salt – yes
- Scorpion. The Phiri family, who live a few hundred metres from us had scorpion encounter. Gideon came over to my mother’s house night before last in a small panic saying that his wife, Esnat has just been bitten by something, they think it may be a snake. We rush over - quick torch sweeps looking for hippos or eles in the path - and at first it looks really bad. Her foot is black. Shit. My mother dashes off to get the car so we can take her to the nearest hospital (an hour’s drive away) but before she goes I have another look and realise that’s it’s a combination of herbs and charcoal (“traditional medicine’, says Gideon) that’s been rubbed on her foot. We wash off the charcoal and look for fang marks; nothing. She is in SO much pain. “If it’s really really painful” we tell her “it’s a scorpion, not a snake. And if it was a snake the site of the bite would be higher.” She calms down a bit. We’d probably tell her this anyway to try and stem the panic. The family looks visibly relieved. They have 7 children and they’re all sitting in the shadows looking terrified. I go and see her the next day and she’s fine. But exhausted. She didn’t sleep and is breast-feeding twins on top of that. Ah, man!
- Rain on the loo seats. Uh huh. Big storm a few nights ago. Stood in the middle of my mothers house and got DRENCHED! Wind blew the blinds right off. And blew over a tree in my uncle’s garden – which we only noticed a couple of days later!
- And the phones? Well, there were no cell phones in those days so the land-lines must have been down. Now the land-lines work, I think, but not the cell phones. How quickly we come to rely on these things.
- Oh and power cuts power cuts power cuts.

Aaaaanyway, bla bla bla! Having fun but hectic crazy busy. Great to be reunited with the actors here for a couple of weeks although everyone porridgey and lethargic in this heat.

Miss ya’ll but don’t have much time on internet – stolen computer time – so will have to catch up properly on your lives when I get back.

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spacedlaw said...

It's amazing that you might have computer time at all!
Take care.

Val said...

hey glad you had time for this! and that the snake bite was a scorpion after all...
sorry bout the toilet seats :-)
you are so right about the short term memory loss - keeps everything fresh and new i suppose..
hope everyone well? heading outa here tomorrow so will email your ma from sa. lots of love to her and you and all xx

fush and chips said...

Great post miranda,
Took me back to Transkei in the 70s. No phones, roads became swollen brown rivers, tractors tried to pull cars out of the mud, and no school if you couldn't get through the river. Yay!

fush and chips said...

PS. All this would make a great book. Your writing's evocative, exotic- just marvelous.

Dumdad said...

That's just too much weather for me!

Lori ann said...

Right,the book Miranda.It's facinating to read,your life is so different than mine, I can't imagine.You have a such a wonderful outlook and sense of humor,good luck with your work,i hope it cools down enough.

Wandering Jay said...

I live on a different jungle, it is in the middle of a city. It'll be nice to trade places, to hear the singing cicadas after the rain, and maybe the crocs will be a fun sight too but at a good safe distance. And rain, most especially the rain, we need it here in Los Angeles to douse our raging fire.

Mud in the City said...

Great to have you back! And bringing a cartoonish vision of cement boot-wearing baboons with you.

Sending dry thoughts your way!

Reya Mellicker said...

Everything about your life there in Africa is so EXTREME. Extreme drought followed by rains so hard that your toilet seats are dripping.

And scorpions! Yikes!! Ya'll are mighty, really you are!

Miranda said...

Spacedlaw - yes it is!

Val - passed on yr greetings to Pam. She says hi and wants a visit

Tim - sounds about right. And thanks for writing compliment - gee wow thanks! Really!

Dumdad - yip - for me too!

Lori Ann - thanks for kind comments...cools down for a wee bit after the rain but....

Wandering Jay - oooh thanks for the visit - I'm off to yours now...

Mud - good to BE back. And sometimes I want to push those baboons into the river, cement boots and all.

Reya - haha, naaa not really!

tam said...

ah. phones out too explains the sms silence. ah well. Give a round of back thumps and secret seka handshakes to one and all. xxx

word veri - adown. y'see? Cooome, adown here.....

Ernest de Cugnac said...

those baboons - they sound fabulous except for the time of day! And stolen computer time - good phrase and oh-so-true for me right now.

Angela said...

Hi Miranda - and PAM!! We have snow storms here today, shall we trade? Pam, how have you been?? No news for ages, but good to hear you`re alive, even if your house is wet. Thinking of you both!!
Love from Geli (and Pam, congratulations for your birth annniversary today - it should always be the mum who gets the congratulations! And the sister, of course!)

Miranda said...

Tam - will do. They all say hi. And I WILL come adown soon!

Ernest - hope your stolen computer time gets longer. If it does have a look at this post to get an idea of my neverending war with the baboons.

Geli - Snow, wow!