Sunday, July 5, 2015

Back in the Bush

Sunday 5th July

Yesterday was the start of the 4 day holiday – though some people decided that Sunday doesn't count and started it on Friday!!

After pottering on the computer in the morning for a bit, I decided it was high time I headed for the African bush. Being on the western edge of town the obvious thing to do was to carry on along the road outside and just keep going west. This road is being prepared for tarmac and it gives the impression of a major road. 50 metres from our house I reached a dead end!! I came across a wire fence – presumably the boundary of a farm. It seems that the government has decided to tarmac side roads in the urban areas in the belief that it will boost the economy. I returned a few paces and took a right turn. This small road led me to the dirt road – which stretched to the west as far as I could see. I therefore headed westward on this road. I was surprised to see the amount of building. A number of small estates, with decent houses, have sprung up along the road. After about ½ mile the housing thinned and eventually I was in the countryside ,with the occasional traditional homes to the South and mainly farms to the north.

It was refreshing to see the bush stretch out in front of me. Around Monze I haven't found dense bush or woodland. It is a mixture of a few scattered shrubs, small trees and a lot of sand! Here and there you find small copses and it is here that I often head. The trees give some shade and also attract a few birds. After a kilometre or so I found a path and headed for some trees for my first stop. The air was a pleasant temperature and most of the clouds had evaporated so it was good to sit down and rest a while. There were a few pigeons around but little else, the odd vehicle came along the road but otherwise it was silent! I had some water and a few biscuits then wandered back to the road. I decided to put another kilometre or two between me and the town before my next foray into the bush. This time I decided to go south from the road until I no longer heard the traffic, then gently head eastward back towards town. I stopped once or twice on the way and greeted a few people who were wondering how this white man had found himself in such a place. They made me feel very welcome and wished me well as I made my way. I stopped once or twice on the way but had difficulty in clearly identifying most of birds I saw. I did think I spotted a hornbill ahead of me, a couple of bulbils sat in a tree and a small flock of blue waxwings gathered in a hedge. The blue waxwing is a strange looking bird in my view. It reminds me of a Walt Disney cartoon because the male has a pale blue breast as if it had had an accident with a pot of paint. Somehow it doesn't seem quite real!

I was well on my way home when my phone rang. Diven had been about to buy some goods for his shop from the wholesaler, when he found that the money in his pocket had been stolen. He has been trying very hard to build up his stock - putting aside the days profits and being very careful with what he spends on food. In this incident he had lost the profits for 7-10 days. I know what is is like to have my pocket picked and apart from the loss it leaves you very upset and confused. Maybe I should have been more careful? Why did I have everything together? Shouldn't I have noticed what was happening etc. Diven was going through all these questions and naturally was very upset. He had intended going to the Gonde ceremony using some of the money. Now he decided that he wasn't going to entertain that idea, but would concentrate on building up his stock and preparing for the birth of his first child.

In the evening Raymond came around with Fr. Clement. I was interested to hear about how the lay parishioners had readily taken charge of much of the parish management and administration leaving him with more time to devote to the spiritual aspects. It seemed to me to be a very enlightened approach, and one we could learn from back home. There must be 60 – 100 people holding positions of authority at different levels within the parish of Our Lady of the Wayside. Fr. Clement has recently celebrated his tenth anniversary as a priest and wants to spend some time relaxing with the two others who were ordained at the same time. He is therefore going to Itezhi-Tezhi for a couple of days. Itezhi-Tezhi is meant to have some beautiful scenery and be good for game viewing it is some 250 km from Monze – though still within Monze Diocese! He left promising to arrange a game of pool when he returns.

I was a bit better with my timing this morning and arrived at Our Lady of the Wayside with 5 minutes to spare. Obert greeted me as did his mother. She is keen for me to visit her pre-school group while I am around. I agreed to make a date soon. She also told me that one of the children had recently died. Any death is difficult, young deaths here are too common, but the death of a child is a particular tragedy.

I tried to find a shorter route back home. On the way I met Robert. We first met some years back on the road to Hachanga dam. He was wheeling his bike and told me the difficulties he had bringing up 7 children on the little money he had from his work in the hospital. He has since retired, but has apparently not yet received his gratuity or pension and therefore still struggles to pay school fees etc. No doubt we will continue to meet in future years!!

I called on Diven to see if he was any happier. He invited me to sit down and said that Deliah was preparing some rice. He then surprised me by getting a packet of soya pieces from his shop to add to the meal. Deana has been using soya here and it is the first time that I have been aware of its existence in Monze. I was not expecting Diven to stock it!!

We chatted as usual and enjoyed a meal together.

On the way back home I met Edward who stopped his car to say hallo. Edward used to be the headmaster at Monze Basic School when I first met him. He retired a few years back and now he works in Lusaka, although his wife stays in Monze. We agreed to meet up tomorrow for a beer or two and to catch up.

It was already well into the afternoon when I made it back to the house.

Both power and water had returned, so I was able to catch up on the cups of tea I missed in the morning and enjoy a shower – though by this time water had stopped again! However we have a couple of drums and a few bottles of water to cope with such eventualities.

We have a good bath here, but I find that an improvised shower works best. There is no hot water and during this “the cold season” the water is cool. However, using a jug over the head it provides a refreshing shower – after the initial shock its fine!!

The sunsets here have a special magic. A deep golden glow, which unfortunately seems impossible to capture on my camera, leaves ne in no doubt that this is Africa.


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