Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Noloholo, Day 25: Walking on in the dust of what has ended

Clear, clean light all day. It sparkles in the tree branches, and sets our windows aglow with the criss-crossed lace of cobwebs and water spots. At 2pm, a bird slams into one of our windows. We wrap him in a towel and hope for recovery, but he does not wake, only stiffens in death. I lay him under an acacia tree, knowing the ants will find him soon. All life returns to the dust from which it came, but it seems the cycle moves faster here where every nutrient is scarce and therefore, precious. When the sun sets, it is a puddle of pure honey, drenching the wrinkle of every bark peel, every seeded tuft of grass, every grain of red dirt, in golden amber liquid. I go out to take photos of the sweetened acacia thorns, and a dikdik runs from me just below my campsite. Last night, hyenas visited Noloholo and left their prints all the way between Laly’s cottage and the program office.

I pass the final draft of my income survey to Shayo, who begins to translate it into Swahili. I finish a grant, and catch up on long-lost emails, little motes filled with news and tidings, gliding off to China, Cyprus, Baltimore, California, Dar es Salaam, Adelaide, Arusha, Seattle.

Today I start a second grant proposal. I like these, perhaps because more than anything, they’ve given me insight into how Laly sees her programs and the potential of her programs. There is so much complexity and deep thought behind everything that is happening here. There is so much to learn. I write. Laly reviews. We discuss her comments. I write again. And everything I do and see here finds its way to my writing, my short experience here wrapping its smoky tendrils into my view of APW.

I went to read, in the evening, what I was doing this time last year. I’d been six weeks in Hunchun already, instead of my Noloholo three. I was just about to wrap up my surveys, and had just made hamburgers and French fries from scratch ingredients that I mustered from the local market. There was so much converging in those days, so much change and so much transition, and myself on the verge of learning everything about myself that I never knew.

When the sun sets here, I absorb the slow falling of the light as if watching the tail of a long parade. The clouds lie tumbled on the horizon like a long, low bruise. The last birds of the day, so alive, flicker like memories in the cooling air. And when I breathe out, I let go of my long-held anger about things I did not do. I forgive myself. There is a Swahili saying that was written on a “kanga” (a traditional East African women’s dress), “Nimekisaliti kidole na jiwe, liwalo na liwe,” which translates roughly to “I have betrayed a toe on a stone, let it be!” I may feel that I made mistakes, but I will accept them with grace. It is time to walk on.

Tags: about cs, travel - tanzania
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