I’ve packed. There isn’t room for so much as a whisper inside my case. I bought a new roly one with four wheels, if you don’t mind, in a loud red, when my first case decided to fall apart on arrival in Africa. It happens. However, my clever and resourceful son managed to repair it, to re-join the main business to the extending handle, thus giving me the chance to donate it to the Community. The Community is black. Farmers, schools and other educational programmes are the people this project works to help. Volunteers come to hoe weeds, plants seeds in the dry earth and in the children’s minds. I remember, last time I was here, joining the group at one of the schools. I watched the big African mamas, colourful as Christmas trees, and wearing as many baubles, cook lunch for the children under a thatched canopy for shade. Huge pots sat on woodfires bubbling invitingly and sending out glorious smells into the day. The children, equally colourful, stood quietly in a polite line holding their tin plates. As each one came to the front, the cooks laughed and joshed with them, all white teeth and belly laughs. A very happy moment to witness. Yes, they are poor. Yes, they have little and live in shanty huts all higgeldy-piggeldy and with no inside water supply, nor loo. No, they don’t think they are badly off. Everything they have, is more than enough. Food, shelter, mamas and papas, school, clothing. It is a humbling thought.
Last night, the staff laid on a boma night for me. The boma is an area for barbecue (braai) and a gathering. The cooks served up their usual delicious food, and we queued, like the children did, plates in hand. Then came the music. The head groundsman is a musician and a Zulu. He sang to an exciting beat, and, before long, I was up and dancing. The volunteers come here from many countries, and this night, Greek music was requested. Thank goodness for Spotify and a good speaker. As the darkness fell, bringing with it the sounds of an African night, and we watched the lights twinkle like fireflies, a line of Greek dancing began. Then the Zulu showed us his magical and energetic dance. It was wild and it was scary in its power. I get that a line of Zulu warriors on the brow of a hill overlooking a British fort would have been terrifying. The Zulus are warriors after all.
Now…..Scotland! I called out, and we were off into a completely made up spin, barefoot on the sand, skirts whirling like Catherine wheels.
I thank them all for making me so welcome. For naming me Mama Bear, for trusting me with secrets and fears, for the delicious food, the fun, the clean room, the laughs and the genuine sadness at my departure. To feel so connected, so valued and appreciated is, indeed, a gift, one I will always treasure. There are things I didn’t do this time, animals I didn’t see, trips I didn’t make, but I am returning in 20/20, if not before, because this Africa is inside my heart. Although my roots are on the island, I have found another place that sings to me, that makes me dance, that challenges me and that feels like home.
I am a traveler in life, a pilgrim, an adventurer. Being here, staying this long has opened my eyes to what could lie ahead. 3 months ago I didn’t see anything beyond my caring job. What fools are we to allow ourselves to go blind with eyes that can still see! What fools to just survive, and not to live, live, live, right up to the moment we die. The most regretful people are those who allow their innate creativity to starve and who stand before Death wondering what happened. I was heading there fast.
But not now. Now I see what I just did and it served me not at all. Even in circumstances that are un-changeable I can still sing and dance and look until I see. I make my limitations, not my circumstances. Someone said that the best adventures are all inside our heads and, when the cold of a day bites my skin and ruffles my feathers, I will go forward just knowing that I am the light in any darkness.
Just like you.
And it only takes one candle to turn night into day.