Africa can at times be such an assault to the senses. Don’t get me wrong, I love Africa. In fact I was born here and have lived most of my life here. But still, outside of my own country, way down in the South and my own culture, it can be quite pleasant but up here?? Up here, Africa attacks the senses.
Take this morning for instance. We live in a very small village in the North of this country. The police do not even know the name of our village. Immigration has no idea of our village’s name and we just put our place of abode as the larger one of these small villages which they might have heard of but never have visited. Even our road running through the village only connects us to other smaller villages going nowhere. Actually the road ends after 2 hours of driving. In two words; small village.
So you would think Peace and Quiet. Nope. Wrong. No Peace and no Quiet. Lots of noise and shouts and screams, parties and what-nots. Sometimes All Night long!
This morning I was listening to the just-returned swallows as I was opening my Bible for my Quiet time, when suddenly extremely Loud Music filled the air. Ah, Campaigning!! And this at 6 o’ clock! Loud music screaming in my ears about going all over the world and I think something to do with an ache in the back and there was also a mother in there somewhere…..an attack on my ears for sure! Haha my Y sure has improved if I can hear some words in the songs they play! But be that as it may, it wasn’t encouraging to me at the time.
Smells, people bustling all around without any thought to a personal space, bright light and strange tasting food. They go all out for all 5 senses!
So this wonderful Tuesday morning we are trying to do school with surround sound!! Oh and did I mention there are now two sets of songs going on at the same time?? Try and do Math or Science or even fill in a cross word puzzle with all this going on! My youngest actually made his Math way more complicated than was ever asked for!
Here is another example for you….some might feel a bit homesick for Africa right about now, I guess, but I long for clean lines, quiet, orderly dust free surroundings. But back to my example….
We went on this adventure, where we used a huge ferry boat on Lake Malawi going to an island. An island without a dock. Boarding was quite uneventful. We just walked up the gangplank. No problem. It was getting back to shore where the problem lay. In Africa they do things quite strange at times. This is how it is done - the life boats are lowered , on which it says very clearly, only 22 persons (sic) and then everyone jumps as fast as they can onto it with 50kg bags of corn, dried fish, flattened cardboard (for more fish) bread, drinks of various flavours and alcoholic percentages, suitcases etc. When the lifeboat is quite filled up with people and stuff (many more than 22) they make for shore. Just above water level. Don’t rock the boat gets new meaning.
When the ferry’s own boat leaves all kinds of little boats pull up to the side of the rocking ferry and whoever is either dumb enough or desperate enough can then jump on and are rowed to shore for a price, of course! But to get into the boats there lays the trick – even the ones you need to pay you have to be strong and definitely NOT claustrophobic as I found out! You push your way down a small staircase with people going up and down sometimes over your head!! Then onwards to a tiny opening, climbing over bags of rice, corn and fish down a hanging swinging ladder fighting your way through the owners of said corn, rice and fish. Frantically hoping I will not lose a child in all of this pushing, shoving and jumping and maneuvering into small spaces. Oh and of course you have to do all this with your backpack and stuff in your arms (food mostly, as adventures in Africa always require food). Luckily for me, my children are quite tall, so one formed the front and with a tall frame opened up a way for us while the other tall one covered the rear and the youngest talked me through it all. A party of 4 weary travelers. I was totally freaked out by the time we reached shore with all the shouting, shoving and people sitting kind of on top of me. But it was not over yet. On shore we had to all jump on the back of a small pick-up truck with 10 other people and all our stuff, bumping along the road to our destination. I was lucky here as I sat in the front listening to the scratching of gears and feeling how the poor vehicle scrapes the bottom of many rocks. So many attacks on one’s senses.
But I guess therein lies the beauty of Africa. On a good day when I drive through our largest town and see all the confusion, dust and dirt it looks kind of nice. Nothing is ever predictable here. Rules are there but no-one really adheres to them. The sun shines with extreme brilliance. There is little order except in endless paperwork (probably left over from the West in any case). People come and go at all hours in and in all manners of transport – inside and outside of the minibus. Shops are everywhere – markets are held mostly on the main roads with no regard to cars. Laws of nature are mostly disregarded but it seems many do survive this despite really dangerous contraptions – like in the case of electricity or extra diesel tanks feeding the truck while driving from the back……I can go on, but I guess you get the point!
Too much of a good thing …. I long for order, neatness, quietness and cleanliness. J But I live in Africa. And it is Wild here. Loud and noisy. And I guess I like it, even if it does tries my nerves at times to the extreme! :) Africa, somehow or the other, it gets under your skin and you can’t get rid of it even if it is a pesky thing.
Bella, I think I might plug my ears for a bit and close my eyes too and sit far from anyone. :)