so we're back from the beach. it was well, simply perfect. tati said i would meet someone inspirational. i never did. i looked. but no-one strolled past in shiny white robes with a halo. or in bell bottoms holding a guitar. in fact no-one strolled past at all. apart from the odd fisherman. and two maasai who came to bury the dead cow which washed up, all salted, onto the beach. maybe it fell out of a dhow between zanzibar and pemba.
nevertheless. it didn't matter. i knew it was going to be like this. . .i sure found time to sit and stare and think. and watch the children run wild up the empty beach. watching them being dumped by little vicious waves, which made me smile. chin in hands, elbows on bent knees. watching. and i managed to pen two new songs. which was extremely pleasing. i love the process. and i'm even happier, when waking up slowly, seeing the light filter through the palms outside, still between dreams and waking, and i hear a riff, and the words float past and i suddenly remember this is a new song. it has stuck. it has begun. god. i love that. loads don't hang about. so when they hook, it's so much more than a bingo moment.
i also managed to successfully deliver an 171kg generator to the camp on the beach. this was no easy feat, oh bestest beloveds, i can tell you. it's a very long drive from arusha to pangani. a beautiful road which goes on and on and ooooooooooon, winding its way between the pares (say it like paarez )mountains, the usambara mountains and the great deserty plains to the right. we drove most of the way into a steady wind. (there are signs warning you against strong winds along the way. i mean what do they think? the sign writing people? that the wind will blow me and the old green land cruiser with an 171kg generator and three children in the back OFF THE ROAD? ) because of the hefty, unwieldy generator our top speed was max 90kms an hour. when the going was good. there was only one thing for it: donn the stetson, plug in the iPod (with the best soundtrack in the world. picture Going Mobile by The Who - keep me movin' over 50, keep me movin' like a hippy gypsy) and cruise. between 40 (up hills into the wind) and 90 (down hills into the wind). every now and then doing blind swipes into the back seat to maintain law and order amongst the three little baboons being all territorial about space on the back seat and who every now and then chorused in that sing song voice:
" Are we nearly there, ma?"
ma: (snatching head phone out of ear and snapping) whatTT??
"are we nearly there maaaa?maaaaa?"
ma: of course we aren't. we're only going to get there like in another six hours. have another boiled egg darling. (and plugged her head phone back in and thought of the open road and other things).
the secret to travelling with three children under the age of twelve and above the age of 6 is lashings of hard boiled eggs, saamies,the odd mis judged smack and an iPod with good music which will last at least 8 hours.
if your children are younger than 5 there really isn't a single positive point to long road trips. children under 5 are irrational and hungry. and they eat beach sand. and upon arrival have a sudden fever of 42. they only do this when there are no doctors around and you forgot to pack the suppository panadols. so you end up insane at 4 in the morning, pinning child to bed forcing the syrup version down their throat, most of which ends up all over your pillow and bed. the rest gets vomited up seconds later. all over the pillow and bed.
we eventually arrived at the pangani river. hours, days, years later, unfrazzeled but egged out. pangani is an almost forgotten outpost, perched on the edge of the river and the sea. it seeps history and ghosts...it's just well, so forgotten and old.
as i said previously, the ferry/pontoon was out of order. and there isn't a bridge. so this meant heaving the yellow effing generator (who, i now noticed, had ungenerously flattened the wheel arch of my car. completely) out of the car and into a rickety old wooden boat. thomas was there to direct operations. cool. calm. collected.
along with abu. and five or seven other strong men. they neeeearly dropped it into the river, from the sheer shocking weight of the bastard. i watched aghast. open mouthed. but they didn't.
then the kids and i clambered bravely into the same old rickety boat and pootled across the river. we went through the same clumsy process on the other side. some kind soul tried to carry my guitar. i sharply wrapped his knuckles saying NO ONE touches this guitar. abu held open the passenger door of the old blue landrover pick up for me, clearly held together with spit and shoe strings (really it was held together with legging - stripped inner tube), which i thought was entirely gentlemanly of him. he firmly told me to hold it while he drives because, well, it doesn't shut. i love a man true to his word. and we were off. sort of coughing into a start, bamboozling our way along a windy red dust road, through the old sisal estate, into the dark green jungle before bursting out into the coconut plantations with glinting sea and beach behind. flapping doors and the effing generator.. . .
and guess what? it never worked. bastard thing. after all that. but who cares. i've two new songs.
and tommorrow i have to go to the dentist. again. if tam's latest post http://fleeingmuses.blogspot.com/2009/07/root-of-all-evil.html) is anything to go by all i want to do is lie foetally curled on the floor, hands over my ears and blubber no no no. but i cannot continue popping neurofens like smarties, washing them down with good whisky. no. this will bite me soon enough. a very kind friend suggested the swill and spit brandy trick. i ordered the cheapest. and the biggest. result: tanzanian brandy which i suspect tastes most similar to meths or brake fluid or paint stripper. anyway. it seems to do the trick. after stripping my gums from my bones, the steady throb of tooth pain seems to abate a little while. only for a little while. so it's tommorrow folks. dee day, yes sirree.