Sunday, February 28, 2010
Appraisals of African Adventures
Well this was a long time coming. I don’t think I have ever taken such a long sabbatical from the Sugar Dandy Diary, but then again, I have never taken such a long trip.
I so wish I was back in Africa. You have no idea. Really. Coming home to the chaos of fashion week, covering 35 events, dealing with winter weather, with friends, family, bills, bugger it all. Of course I missed everyone and not talking to my mother for a month was terribly frustrating. But to have a month JUST for yourself. In ones own bubble, with no newspaper, phone, TV, internet, f****ing Facebook. You know what, I really don’t need to know so and so just ate a sandwich on a profile update. And I don’t care if it was good.
I certainly hope this doesn’t sound cermudgion-y. But I had a taste of what I feel like life is supposed to be, ideally of course. So many of us on the trip mentioned the word ‘Human’ almost daily. Yes, I felt human.
I would wake up at 6am every day, save the day after the wedding (that day was about noon!). I went to bed almost every night by 10. And I never had an alarm clock. The most incredible sound I have ever heard was at 6am every morning. It was that perfect moment when the night animals sing their last song and the morning animals wake and begin their melody. For just several minutes, when all the animals were at fever pitch, it was the loudest, most magical orchestra I have ever heard. It’s hard to not wake up with a smile on your face when you hear such sounds.
Most mornings I would bath in our outdoor shower. In Mozambique it was fancy and had running water. I would wash myself up while a massive monitor lizard sat and watched in the already intense heat. But in Botswana I would bath by filling up a bucket, hoisting it up a tree and turning the spigot to have a fresh cold shower outside. The most memorable shower was on my last day at Mena a Kwena when I was showering and heard massive plunges in the distance. I looked out and saw the elephants had decided to join me in my morning ritual.
Days would consist of delightful meals with friends, quick chats with locals and in Mozambique a constant ‘Buondia!’ to any local you may run into. That’s a variation of Portuguese that means- Good day! We would then take a hike up a mountain taking paths that had been forged by Arab slave traders thousands of years ago to majestic peaks or local villages.
Interesting fact- Of course America was not the first country to take slaves from Africa, but do you know why there are no Africans in the Arab world even though they brought thousands of slaves over? They castrated all the men.
The rest of the day woulnd’t consist of much but what we fancied. Taking a mokoro out in Lake Niassa or grazing at the bar for hours with friends imbibing gin, champagne, tequila or whatever suited our fancy. Even though it was the rainy season (it only rained one day in 25) we did see a fair amount of game. On safari in Botswana we saw a giraffe and her baby, a heard of zebra, a lonely old bull elephant, vultures, loads of spring bok, whart hogs and a very rare sighting of the great eagle owl. Sadly no lions were seen, but we heard them roar late at night.
Evenings were always consumed in amazing food and an abundance of drink. No wild drunken nights (save for the wedding!) but just cozy times with friends and sometimes all alone. I made sure to have me time at least once or twice a day. I would venture into the wild and just sit. Sometimes I would hang out on the river in the Okavango, sometimes on the beaches of Lake Niassa and sometimes in a canoe, alone with the water lapping and my paddle idle. And you know what? I didn’t think of a damn thing. I asked Chloe at the end of the trip if I sounded shallow that I didn’t think about one thing for a month. She smiled, patted my arm and said, “That’s Africa.” She admitted to being asked some in depth question and giving the most mundane response. It’s not a place to think or do, just to be. I should clarify. I did think. A lot. I thought about what that Vervey monkey was doing in the tree. I thought about where that hippo was going when he plunged under water. I thought about the millinea of migrations of these animals that white people came along and fenced, off, destroyed, and ruined not even 100 years ago. I thought of the amount of racism that is still such a part of South Africa and I thought about a life as simple as the one’s lead in many of these small towns we saw. It’s the kind of thinking one should do more often.
Since the trip was such a long one, such an intense one and so life changing I don’t think I can really transcribe my diary all onto this blog. Half of it wouldn’t make sense probably and it would take weeks to do. If only I could go back to Africa just to have the time to do it! Instead, I hope this gives a little insight of what Africa was and is to me. Yes, I have put on the rose tinted glasses. I have become a total stoner hippy and when fashion week got too wild, the wind beat to hard and my body was about to fall apart I just closed my eyes and thought of that elegant boat ride we had on Lake Niassa after a three hour hike gazing at the hills dotted with rondavels, drinking an ice cold Coca Cola, barefoot while my river soaked shoes dried. And I think of wonderful and amazing Francis, our guide and our friend who in the thick of the bush, turned on his phone to play Michael Jackson’s best hits as we trampled past ancient Baobab trees and dodged massive spider webs and simply felt alive.