Tuesday, July 26, 2011

back home on t' hill...

i love travelling and i hate it at the same time.
i hate saying good bye. i really really hate it.
i try very hard not to remember it when there are joyous reunions but there it sits like a ghoul, in the dark corner of embraces, hissing menacingly that this is is all going to end....with a desperate hug, rivers and lakes of tears and inevitability.
anyway. home now. and it ain't easy.

after a lightening edged trip to south africa, where i saw my sisters, their children, my father, who turned 80, my loved friends - it was onto plane after plane. i sat, dumb, staring out the window, watching the crinkled blue continent below me, taking me further and further away from everyone i love. . .oh. and second born found six bullets in his bag in jomo kenyatta airport. that'll teach him to borrow his father's safari bag....it was a tense moment. at least he discovered them BEFORE we went through security. and at least they were empty cartridges. still. a sweaty moment where i think i lost 5 kgs in one second from the adrenalin rush. i am a resourceful mother and dealt with the bullets swiftly over a cappuccino and croissant....

yet, when i stepped out into the tepid winter twilight of kilimanjaro, heard the crickets in the dark fields as we drove slowly home, saw the Southern Cross hanging sweetly, sadly in the sky and smelt the dust, i knew i was home. still. i haven't quite settled back 'in'... i'm hanging onto holiday polaroids in my head.

travelling gives you perspective. and steals it right back. it makes you see things differently. then hurls you back into how things were and are. with pictures in your mind. it's, well, unsettling. so. i'm still half in and half out, if ya know what i mean?

tanzania is still in the dark...and getting worse. there is no power left apparently. in 40 days we might be plummeted into total black out. . . it's a truly disgraceful situation. i loved being south, where you switch a switch, and 'bling!' a light comes on. hot water gushes out like victoria falls in flood, up to your chin if you like. AND you can drink the water straight out the tap. it's glorious. now i want that. i want all of that and some. all the cars are shiny. roads are straight and smooth as silk ribbons. sigh. and i know i am a snaggle toothed hill billy from the back countries, when it comes to paying for parking into a machine, buying a train ticket from a machine (where the children pretended not to know me), racing away from people on the dodge cars instead of into them, scared as a cat is from an enraged, fierce bull terrier. but still. what fun.

comin' home wasn't helped by my first shopping trip into town, where i drove straight into riots. all the dala dalas (the taxis) went on strike because the police keep on harassing the drivers. six or eight of them were thrown into jail. for parking offences? i noticed the roads were emptier than usual...the traffic actually flowed....on rounding the corner, i saw ahead of me, a mob of about 500 people, toy toying down the main drag of mbauda, straight towards us....i couldn't move anywhere....stuck. as they jogged past, people bashed my car, tried to open the doors, shouted things at me, ah, ya know, like "mzungu!" and shit, while i stared doggedly ahead with a stupid smile on my face.....yes. a smile...anyway. a gap appeared and i raced ahead and got the hell outta Dodge, not funny, just before the Field Force (government crack force) arrived. apparently lots of plastic bullets were fired, tear gas and stones were thrown. miranda took shelter in beate's ice cream parlour. not a bad place to hide in, mind.

and then two days ago, there was an horrific armed robbery at a nearby coffee estate. it was pay day. lots of cash to be had, you see. one of the managers was pangad (sp?) (attacked with a machete. google if you don't know what a machete is) so badly that they cut through a tendon in his leg. the other was axed on his head (52 stitches needed) and one man was shot dead. horrible.

but this is home. and mama paka (the cat) and bella the dog and the horses are happy to have us back, i think? and there are friends. and the mountains. and ridiculously beautiful twilights. and the wind blows at night while i lie cuddled under my hyrax rug (which c hates because he says it stinks and i look like a viking) and early in the morning, the owls land on the green tin roof and hoot in the dawn. things could be worse, i reckon. and, oh bestests, i'm still on holiday and i see zanzibar inside the crystal ball....

the sun keeps risin' and the world keeps spinnin' ....

Kitchen Board: July 31 2011: Ngorobob Hill House: goddamn Monday.

toodely toot, y'all and bisous X.X.X. riotous ones just where your neck meets your shoulders x j


Bill said...

Ah, how many people have had disagreements and grumpy moments at the conclusion of a vacation?

And, reading your words made me think about how our human world has become most fearsome. Too many people, too few resources and a long history of squandering those things precious. Why so many machetes and guns and primitive violence? Is paradise an illusion? Are we destined for selfish extinction or can we side-step into an alternate and kinder existence?

Anyway, welcome back and glad you're writing again ...

Robyn said...

Post holiday blues... Well I'm glad you are back to writing-and telling me stories about safari bags and bullets found at NBO airport-how funny-made my morning. Did you actually stuff the croissants I wonder...? Welcome home.

Elizabeth said...

Oh dear, Janelle
you do live in a wild neck of the woods
and with its attendant wonders come the full complement of woes.
Yes, isn't it love
ly when you can drink the water from the faucet and turn on the light switch.
I remember in Maroc when they used to dim all the lights in the medina in the evening and sometimes the whole thing when kaput
but not nearly as much as you.

Your world is rich and magical indeed. Here I sit in silly Manhattan looking out at the Empire State Building with my dishwasher that works and feel
that I need a little frisson of..............something.

That said, riots alarm me no end since groups of people do things that individuals wouldn't.

Anyway a super duper post, poetic and wonderful as ever.

toomuchaugust said...

when two unlike properties meet up (water level inside a wooden tank) (wood against water) (motion against nonmotion) such edges are where we find (or feel)corrosion. coming home from being back home = that edge. you reach into your bag of giving+courage and find the way to still the edge.

gosh i love reading your blog. you give me courage to deal with the edges in my own world.

also we write lists in the dust of my truck's window.


Val said...

oh i do understand that torn feeling, and then coming home to your own space - with its beauties and challenges. That riot sounds awful - glad you are safely out of it, and miranda found cover in the ice cream shop. take good care xx

JoeinVegas said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Janelle - some time ago I read a comment on someone's blog (was it Not Enough Mud perhaps?) which mentioned where your grandfather was from in Natal - mine also came from there, and my father played polo for the local team (there is a cup in his name) and, as it is a fairly small place, I thought it would be interesting to know if our families knew each other. Is it possible to have your e-mail address as I don't have a blog and do not want to invade your privacy in the comments section. If you would rather not, I will not be offended, promise! I now live in Europe but was raised in SA. Incidentally I enjoy reading your blog, but don't let that influence your decision!

Angela said...

I want the world to be good and kind and abundant with electric and other energy, and people refraining from violence, and no malaria or mean bugs around, and no separation of loved ones. And happiness and laughter, and the Southern Cross hanging from the sky, and spotted horses content.
How can I make the world such a place?

Lori ann said...

geli,that is so lovely. if only all the world were like you.

janelle, sending lots of love and best wishes, and wishing most that it were more. i have so much respect for you (miranda too). well done in the airport too, eish.

Reya Mellicker said...

Welcome home, Janelle. I want everything for you - drinkable tap water, light on demand, the smell of the dust of your own hill and home, and all your loved ones around you. I wish I could compress time/space to make it all available to you.

The life you live ... whoa.

You were in my dream last night. I'll send you an email on FB. Love to you.

Heather said...

pure poetry, as always.

your home is what it means to travel to many of us. wild and beautiful. though i believe everyone would wish for you power (all kinds, but in this instance I mean the electric variety) and peace. less violence....or none at all. {I love that you were smiling through the riot... }

"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars make me dream." ~ Van Gogh

Mark said...

the sun keeps risin' and the world keeps spinnin' ....

family Affairs said...

I expect you've heard we get those scary riots in London too these days! Welcome back and so know what you mean about holidays being good and bad L x