On Monday I went with Eliud Ngumi (of Mama Darlene’s) to visit his house. This was my second trip away from the tarmac.
I felt a few weeks ago that the time had come for me to venture away from the tarmac. Its not quite that bad: I have been on un-made-up roads since I’ve been here, but I stick to a fairly simple route to and fro and around Tala market. These trips went way off into the hedges and fences of the land beyond the road.
It’s not wild here. Off the road you’re basically in someone’s shamba. We weaved this way and that, round fields and hedges, accross chambers… over bridges, under bridges, through articulation (just kidding) … We took the “short cut” from college, cross country. On the way back we went “direct” to the road which still involved quite a lot of weaving around peoples homes (which sit randomly in their fields) and goats, etc. I kept looking back to get a snapshot of the trees and hedges and stuff so that I might have a hope in hell of navigating that route again. It’s funny, there is plenty of stuff to navigate by. The non-uniform nature of the fields and hedges and fences, the fact that every tree is unique, means there are plenty of landmarks. But I’m accustomed to navigating in towns where the landmarks are … well, pubs right? And houses, with numbers, and street signs and such.
I spoke to Johnson (the Sister’s cook who came by my house last weekend) about post. I’ve a photo of a london post box. He didn’t know which way up to hold it, but that was not the supprising thing for him, the supprising thing was that we get our post delivered to our houses, through a special hole in the door. Here that would simply not work! The houses don’t have addresses. Most aren’t even **near** roads. Denise commented that we (we in the UK that is) get upset if the post doesn’t come for a day or two, but out here (moves self to Kenya) we (we in Kenya, that is) it has never even happened.
Anyway, my trip on monday went on quite late; Eliud and I visited Jackson, his VSO volunteer. I walked home past 7pm! It was dark. It gets dark here promptly at 6.30. (Eliud had been to Suffolk in November last year. He commented on how early it gets dark. I told him what happens in the summer as nobody seemed to have explained that and I got the impression he through I woke and slept in darkness all year round.) The moon was just less than half-full (or is it half-empty? Depends if you are an optimist or a lunatic) but the night was clear, and light enough for me to keep my Petzl off most of the way. Millions of stars that I recognise neither as constalations nor as individuals. A big insect, one of those whose wings make a noise like a WW1 biplane, buzzed out of the darkenes and bounced off my neck, making me jump. But it was a lovely evening. How beautiful the skies are here sometimes. And, despite the noise of frogs, gekos and grasshoppers, how peaceful the night.