Listening to the music!
Im not exactly sure how to best recap the past few months other than saying they have been quite eventful and fabulous. The annual Soucie family ‘Cookie Party’ made its African debut successfully – only with a slight delay due to the usual power outages. There were 9 of us who hit the frosting and sprinkles and definitely devoured more than we preserved for the poor blokes who weren't there.
My Christmas Vacation to Malawi was wonderfully relaxing and primarily consisted of Katie and I lounging on boats and beaches reading. It didn’t really feel like the holidays being stuck on a secluded beach in sweltering heat, but no complaints here! We met some wonderful people from all around the world - and were even able to crash with some of them for a couple days - long enough to have our fill of gin and tonics, good food, and the use of a washing machine!
I did head back to the village for the month of January and have continued to organize the Lifeskills training for local teachers, beekeeping workshops, agroforestry workshops, and have a ½ lima of crops sprouting (maize, soya, groundnuts, bombara nuts, velvet beans, cow peas, and sunflowers alley cropped with leguminous trees – gliricidia, sesbania, lushina, ngolyolyo, etc).
I did have one interesting night in the village (Aunt Sue – stop reading now!)… I got up at around 02 in the morning to use the icimbusu so I was stumbling around near the door to put my shoes on when I look up to be staring face to face with a little slithering creature – probably about a foot or two from me, resting on the door frame – illuminated by my headlamp. Needless to say it scared the #$%& out of me…though it was only about a finger width wide and two feet long. I grabbed my ulukasu (hoe), which was hanging next to the door, and stood in a swarm of mosquitoes for a good forty minutes trying to come up with a plan. Normally snakes wouldn’t really bother me too much – a result of growing up in an area with only the occasional garder snake. However we had just had a snake session at training in December and basically learned that getting bit in the village by many of these guys is often fatal (partly due to how far away antivenom is kept (South Africa) – and how many kms you would have to ride to get to an airlift). Anyway…so as I was griping my hoe I was mentally trying to urge the snake to go into the thatch roof or move to the outside so I wouldn’t feel the need to take action – an unsuccessful attempt unfortunately, for then he decided to start slithering down the wall into my kitchen. At this point I chose, against all my prior morals, to decapitate the poor guy…in which I missed on the first two swings…and had to watch the snake’s back end continue squirming long after the actual event (5 hours to be exact). It was aweful and I was mad paranoid for a few days there – very uneasy walking around in the dark.
It is now the third week in February. I just returned from an amazing vacation in Zanzibar – off the coast of Tanzania. We took a two day train ride to the coast, cruising past elephants, zebra, giraffe, antelope, hippos, bufallos, and warthogs…past massai herding their animals, and through some amazingly beautiful countryside. We then hopped on a ferry and crossed a bit of the Indian Ocean to the Island where we spent a week listening to a crazy mix of musicians at the Sauti Za Busara music festival. Artists from around Tanzania, Senegal, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Kenya, etc flooded the soundwaves…and it wasn’t uncommon to be dancing in a crowd of mzungus, rastas, muslims, massai, and many more ethnicities and cultures. Truly an amazing experience which was only heightened by the fact that we were enjoying it on an island surrounded by fresh juice and fish, beautiful beaches, and some good diving. Though I do think that the colors of Mexicos diving were more vibrant with a greater diversity of corals and anemones it was fabulous to be under the water again, to see octopus, turtles, lionfish, angel fish, lobsters, sea cucumbers, nudibrancs, and many more. It was hard to leave the sea again and return to the landlocked heart of Africa…and I am procrastinating taking another shower and removing the last remaining sandy salty stickiness of my hair that reminds me of the oceans I miss so much. Oh well though…I think I will be heading back there next year…it was that fabulous – so if any of you all want to meet me there…start saving now!
Well…It is back to the village tomorrow I think. I promise I am doing some work over here! Miss and love you all.