there's always something wickedly exciting about packing the car and headin' west. out of town, past the airport, past the sunflowers and seeing kilimanjaro loom ahead of you, towering and glinting in the clouds. take a left turn just past sanya, where the road becomes narrow and quiet, winding and climbing between dry maize fields and lush forests. before you know it, you're on dirt red roads, listening to a stretched cassette of michelle shocked singing memories of east texas....everyone singing (well. actually just me) "i learnt to drive on those east texas red clay back roads...". the wind hurls the dust through the open windows. brushing hair is a thing of the past and our hearts float crazily and happily outside the car.
we were on our way to woodstock in the bush. a groovy hippy wedding, out on the windswept plains of ndarakwai, a wild ranch beneath the western breech of kilimanjaro.
flags fluttered prettily around the campsite, announcing ceremony and place.
as night fell, a massive bonfire was lit to ward off tendrils of cold and night monsters. the bride's sister, from australia, danced with her "fire balls"....(like fire dancing except with balls lit up by lead lights which changed colour all the time - orange, blue, green, pink, purple, red, whirling colour dervishes which really hurt when they smack you on the mouth or the head if the swirling gets out of control, as i discovered)...under the stars. glacial winds off kili kept the fire fairies spinning up to the moon whilst i chatted to the groom's mother all the way from moscow. i also saw my first ghost. a pale faced woman. with long dark hair, a high collared white shirt and a black long jacket. she floated out from the tree line, out of the silver star speckled night, straight behind irene. the mother said, " who are you looking at?" and before i knew it, the ghost had gone. i said, "i've just seen a ghost." she said " vat huff you been smoking?" but she saw it on my face. her dark russian eyes don't miss a thing. she took another sip of her stolichnaya vodka as a cloud slipped over the moon. i know a goddess when i see one so i followed suite and drank like a russian. (must learn not to peak so early.)
the groom arrived on a black horse called storm. they cut a dashing pair, prancing across the plain, towards the circle of friends, who were being "cleaned" by shaman rani with specially concocted incense, whisked up with guinea fowl feathers. my boys were terrible. giggling and wrinkling their nose at the smells of india and whispering things like " who's that witch mama?" with deepest respect, oh best beloveds, seeing they know one already. their mother. i sternly looked my long nose at them. they shut up smartly.
last born was a flower girl of sorts. she was perfect for the part. she wandered around the circle, handing out roses, her tangled hair, knotted with bougainvillia. a flower fairy to boot.
the black horse stamped his feet and held his head high, neighing. we stared across the plain and there came the bride, side saddle on a white princess arab mare, haling from the royal stables in spain. she sat perfectly on the horse, her dust orange silk veil, blowing prettily around her, being lead by my friend and vaquero par excellence, carlos. who looked ever so handsome. and from a safe distance, a herd of eland stood eloquently etched.
as she stepped so sweetly off her steed and gathered up her silks, i sang angel from montgomery with baab strummin' an out of tune guitar. it didn't matter. the wind tangled up the music.
my neighbour, bram, acted as the priest or guru or ceremony master or nini hii. (we kept some konyagi hidden in the basket just in case he needed to settle his guru nerves). but, i must confess, he was rather good at it. he married the man to the man initially. he really is rather a lovely guru, though. i'd let him marry me if i did it all over again. the shaman had to "clean" him, or probably bless him, with her smoke and feathers.
i sort of sniggered and thought golly, she'll have to do a lot of cleaning there. don't get me wrong. i'm mad about bram. completely. anyway. the exchanging of vows was beautiful. moving. and made me believe all over again in love, baby, love. the best kind. bram made us all do more oms. my boys embarrassed me again, snorting with giggles when everyone was supposed to be omming. it does tickle the lips though, i find. louise was excellent at it. at one point i thought he'd holler," and one for holland!" (he loves his football).
horses. love. spikey stars. a full moon of magic. smudgy sunsets. smoky fires. guitars. feathers. ghosts. music. mountain winds. russian vodka. fire dancers. what more could a cowgal ask for, eh?
you tell me.
toodely toot, oh bestests, bisous X.X.X. blazing red hot poker off the saddle ones. x j