We feed Tuma rice pudding in the morning, and he makes us what we call “pankekis” – not true pancakes, but a type of Tanzanian crepe. Apparently it’s all Sam and Emily had to eat for breakfast last summer. Sam grew to hate their crisp flatness, the impossibility of devising new ways of consuming the day-in-day-out breakfast item. Since then, the repertoire has expanded…such that the crepes are a treat when they do finally appear.
Christy reminded me that this would probably be the last time I’d ever eat pankekis. The knowledge startles me. “No! I can’t handle this!” I cry melodramatically. She laughs. And yet only part of the drama is feigned. Of course, I can’t wait to see Ben in Johannesburg. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Sahal, and we’ll reunite in Durban. I’ll stay in Durham for a while and then sally forth into all my other autumnal plans. But I’ve gone through enough summer internships now to know that this time at Noloholo is consequential and singular. I can never come back to this.
Elvis arrives back at camp around 10 today, with his human-wildlife conflict team in tow. It’s nice to see them here for a second day in a row – three out of the four had never been to Noloholo before. They are a bright group, hard-working and insightful: Julius, Lamoini, Lukas and Seruni. Christy walks them through a new conflict incident report (a single form to replace the three separate AWELY (www.awely.org) booklets they used to use). By noon, they are wandering around Noloholo while Christy walks them through the basics of their new GPS units.
The clouds finally lift around noon, giving way to a pretty blue sky. On the breeze now drifts not dust, but the heady scent of perfume as the flowers open up their petals to the sudden energy of butterflies. Whole ant colonies have abandoned their orderly, everyday lines, to instead scatter across the dirt. Already, the red soil relinquishes its moisture to the sun and an air so crystal-clear that I can see mile-away mountains.
We come down to lunch and Tuma is sitting in a corner, grinning at us. For lunch he has made ugali (corn mash), mboga (boiled greens) and dega (salted, dried fish in a creamy sauce). I guess he took Kelly seriously when she told him we wanted to eat more traditional food while Buddy and Laly are away. Kelly and I chow down, but poor Christy ends up just having a bowl of soup and the one leftover pankeki, and Andrew refuses the dega.
Work proceeds apace, and before I know it is night. As a thank-you gift for Tuma and Maxi’s care over the past months, we make them dinner – pasta bake and Kelly’s famous garlic toast (which they LOVE). Afterwards we just hang out together, shooting the proverbial s-word, and laughing a lot. We clean up the kitchen, and then we're off to bed (or back to work, if you are Andrew). Tomorrow is an early start to catch the game counts car into the village, that way we can be there in time for Wildlife Clubs. In the afternoon - business plan training with our Kangala women’s group, and then patronizing the Maasai women’s jewelry group.