Sunday, March 30, 2008
MY GOD!! Half of Mto Wa Mbu is under water, massive wretched flooding!! 100s of people have been left homeless - the whole north side of the village, and all the way out for about five kil. is submerged. Took a cab north slogging and weaving through sweeping rolling water waves across the highway all the way up to the the bottom of the car door...people loaded down with mattresses, furniture, tv sets, computers, all their worldly goods en masse holding them high and carrying onto any dry spots they can find on the road, you see full families with hoardes of children sitting on soaking wet sofas, on top of matresses propped high on top of bureaus right on the road surrounded by hundreds of people on bikes, on foot out to see the damage - it is horrible.
The Sunlight internet cafe is underwater, Josef has stacked huge bags of gravel and sand at the door trying to keep the water out..the massive cement troughs flanking and running along each side of the highway, measuring about 12 feet deep, 8 feet across - the one of the north side full of water, the one on the south emptly. A sea of water, you can't tell at all where the trough is, and gawd help the poor soul who slogs across a front lawn soaking wet all the way up to his unfortunate bottom - no kidding, the poor sod who mistakes where in earth this huge ditche is and strides right into disappearing under the weight of his worldly belongings..besides the fact that most can't swim! Someone drowned last night. Had dinner with a guy from the Cultural Centre who was awakened at 6am with water pouring into his room through the space under his door. By 7 it had climbed all the way up past the point where the mattress had been on its springs....he'd propped it up atop the wall between his bathroom and bed, along with the tv, computer, clothes, shoes, kitchen cooker....everything and anything he could save....crazy...helicopters flying overhead surveying the news, it hasn't let up for the last three nights.
BIG RAINS..every spring through til May....it starts in the evening sometime after midnight with a sort of restlessness stirring in the air, the wind coming up, trees and branches blowing, a feeling that something is about to happen....around 4am it begins, pounding down seemingly out of the blue like a herd of stampeding buffalo, each hoof heavier and more insistant than the one before, the crashing and beating against the tin roofs and always the dripping like a Chinese torture test of some pipe or other out there banging amd clanging on top of all this noise..the whole raging scenerio doesn't let up for two hours or so, and then just as suddenly as it came now becoming quiet, softly diminishing in size and in volume and in its own way silently moving on. Next, the high pitched singing of frogs gleefully celebrating all this new rain, just next door, shrieking like a chorus of school girls practicing for a Xmas concert, relentlessly and never ceasing until this over all this commotion comes the first awaking of the roosters who also crow with glee as morning breaks. One after the other, they don't shut up, the frogs, the roosters, and finally the drivers of the huge safari trucks parked right outside my window, stomp on outside and banging doors all of this around 7am, they jump into their trucks and rev up their engines, pollution spewing from the back. they rev and rev, the engines screaming now, louder and with each rev, with more force. These guys, they can't just turn the damn things on when they are ready to go and take off. No, they seem to like to activate all this nonsense and sit in their trucks laughing and talking for a good fifteen minutes until one by one for some reason, they move away..
My morning began this way. Where after the excitement of the storm subsided, the, the singing and croaking of the frog medly, and then the roosters and finally, as Charles predicted last night, the huge truck right outside my window reved into full activation. Ten minutes later, I swing at the mosquito netting which reminds me each morning of a bridal veil, grab a towel, wrap it around my waist and wrench open the front door, ranting and shouting at this idiot to turn the wretched thing OFF!!
Sorry for bothering you about this little story but is an occurance repeated almost daily which drives me mad and this morning i did something about it. Of course to no avail...the driver and his passenger looked at me, this crazy white woman shouting and waving wildly...the security boy standing on the porch gossiping and passing the time with them, his mouth now open in a sort of awe shape, staring, and nothing happens of course, nothing. They sit in their truck and just look. Finally, in their own sweet time, they gun it up one more time, and move slowly down the road. As i climb back into bed, I can hear this truck making each corner through the village and on out to the main road, no doubt sludging its way through the floodwaters out of town, the sound subsiding slowly, a good long way before blessed silence descended, once again...
I write of the excitement here, the intensity of the projects, the sweet children, the big jovial woman, my friend who is HIV POSITIVE sitting on a bucket on the side of the road eaking out a few shillings everyday selling bananas, cheerful enough, calling jambo, hello! Life here in Mto WA Mbu. But I want to write too, it isn't always easy...is anything? Ever? Unlikely. Lonely nights without electricity by the light of a diminishing flashlight heading out to Mi Casa for a handful of french fries mixed with a dribble of tomato sauce and salt and wrapped in an old newspaper to stave off hunger and quickly back home - tedious hours before sleep under said bridal net with flashlight and a book. Not great. A friend lures you into a meeting and then pounces for money, the feeling of not being a person - just some sort of white becon out there with a black purse seemingly filled with shillings, the endless greetings from across the street, demanding that you turn around, stop, say hello, when some days you just don't feel like it. Plans changed. REarranged. Waiting. Inability to talk, to understand. To know what's going on. Feeling very alone...all part of being so far away from home, away from the security of friends, family...of routine, there is none here.
One week to go, a lot of loose ends to tie up...my Swedish friends left with great plans to purchase a building for the orphanage; Meetings with the orphanage board, varying opinions...understandings and misunderstandings, language mishaps, but we push forth for those incredible little kids and hope to move on...the kids amazing as always. Marva from Israel returned after a bit of a rest in Zanzibar and it's great to have her back - as Seanna, Sierra, all the volunteers and the Swedes cleared out of town all on the same weekend.
Charles and i have to head out to one more Masai village for a last round of filming and interviewing with four more girls selected into Secondary School...and on to a the Manyara school to interview a class of high school kids about HIV AIDS..we should have done this weeks ago, but time flies by..
Am thinking about coming back home, once in awhile these days, and how this will be, how it will feel leaving Africa, leaving my little kids here, saying goodbye and moving away from this life of feeling especially such a strong sense of meaning, of purpose, of a trying to make a bit of difference, of care. I asked someone once, is there anyone here, any family free of helping, free of looking after others?...And she said no...our lives back home, with so many free to come and go as we please, on our own, or busy in our own little families, without a care for others, vacations, lunching, dinnering, lingering, relaxing, massage, a life seemingly of great leisure, and for many with little anxiety beyond the stress of what to do with themselves that day. But here everyone, literally every single person has someone in their family, or a relative or close friend in serious trouble, in terrible need, sick, dying, or starving and trying to make ends meet, its straight on survival every day, every night, where to get the next shilling, how to get together a meal for their family, simply, how just to live.
Seanna wrote a couple of days after returning, not only of the immense snow, and ice, and cold, the bland greyness of that land, but of the isolation, the lack of community, the fierce individualism, nuclear families buried deeply into singular lives, the lack of people together on the streets, of colour, activity, sound, the lack of smell..animals - goats, cows and chickens, people with sticks, Masai purple, red and blue..puddles in pock market mudways - yesterday a man walking into one purposefully cleaning his flip flops one by one....and even, tho i am a little tired of it sometime, always, everywhere you go, that great welcoming exhuberant JAMBO!!