As the program office bathrooms are off-limits, I find myself enjoying the walk to the bathroom by the dorms. It is surprisingly pleasant to get out of the office for the 10 minute trip. My eyes are so often focused on the rock-strewn path beneath my feet that I sometimes forget to look up at the ridgelines around me. They startle me, and I know by this that I am still a newcomer.
Christy goes on the game count drive this morning with some visiting field staff from WCS. She brings back a half-shell baobab pod the size of a Nerf football, fuzzy as a boy’s first pale beard, edamame-green. The crumbled yellow innards faintly resemble bad wall insulation, and contain twenty or more seeds. It tastes vaguely of lemon sour and strawberries. The feel on my tongue is fuzzy, crumbly, and so foreign that my skin shivers; my body unable to determine whether or not to spit or swallow. I leave it in my mouth, and it melts away to reveal squat kidney-shaped beans. I think about planting them, but for the fact that it would probably take a baobab tree 40 years just to sprout.
Laly finds leopard prints behind her office and a startled Serval appears on one of our camera traps. I find the insects adoptable in such context, despite their nightmarish shapes and proportions.
I love sitting on the patio in the late afternoon, when the shadows lengthen and the serin birds seem particularly incensed (or delighted, one can never quite tell). By day Noloholo desiccates slowly and becomes steadily more covered in the red dust of the earth here. Tobiko (one of our guards, and Maasai yoga master) found and patched a large old pottery bowl – he’s been stealing water from the staff tank to fill it. The serins perch on the edge, and unfazed by the enormity of the watery surface before them, dip their faces to the water, looking not unlike the bobble of mechanical birds at Disneyland. Clouds cast their inconstant gray across the wooded plains below, and I watch an aphid the color of fresh spring buds meander along the length of my foot. Such a tiny thing in all this expansiveness. Much like myself.
My rhythm has returned – I complete two tasks for Laly and finish up the day by reviewing some Peace Corps materials that Kelly gave me. I never realized before how much experience the PC has doing small-scale development projects, although in theory I knew about it. As a program, they know what failure looks like from thousands of different viewpoints, and it seems they are now quite strict about forcing their volunteers to learn from past peoples’ mistakes before allowing them to embark on their own. Today I benefit from some of the reports and training manuals they’ve developed.
Dinner is delicious again – tagliatelle with a mushroom red sauce. Buddy and Christy are still out on a anti-poaching demonstration and so it’s just me, Kelly, Andrew and Laly for dinner. The group feels bonded, and I relax at last.
|From Arusha & Noloholo, Tanzania|