All three of us are having registration issues with our Vodacom SIM cards. None of us can get onto the internet, and none of us can make outgoing phone calls. The timing is inconvenient, considering it is Saturday afternoon – we’ll all have to wait a couple days before we can do anything about it. We wish we had fixed it earlier, but it’s too late now. Turns out that even if you think you got something done right (we “registered” them at the Vodacom store before we left Arusha a month ago), things can still go wrong. Now we’ll all be sharing the single desktop for access to the internet.
After a week of gathering dirt, I finally bathed. Now that we are camping, the staff actually brings the water and dumps it into a big container that’s on a tree-platform. We pull on a handle and the water comes out of a showerhead above us. It is a brilliant luxury. But since our last shower, ants invaded the pipeline, where they then drowned. In the trickle of warm water, I gently brushed myself off, returning to the red earth a layer of skin, many strands of hair, and the dead bodies of ants.
The sunset was beautiful. Tuma set the patio with little lanterns around the edges, a warm fire in the pit, and a bright moon ahead casting its white flame upon us. For dinner, he made hamburger patties, baked buns, and even cooked French fries. Buddy grills the burgers and we chow down on the most delicious, fully-loaded cheeseburgers. It is a better than I’ve had in a long time, never mind whether deprivation has a hand in my appreciation of it. Halfway through dinner, the wind blows one of our plastic chairs into the fire, and the flames leap up with a roar. Buddy rushes out to perform damage control. No harm done but to the atmosphere, and the mornings of the staff tomorrow. No doubt they will be scrubbing plastic off the fire-pit walls. By the time we finish our meal, the fire has guttered out, and we are stuffed.
Ben calls me, and we speak for too-short minutes. It has been weeks since I last heard his voice, and the sound is as delightful and exotic as the appearance of hamburgers on tonight’s dinner table. It has been just a month here at Noloholo. The normal rhythms of my American life have already receded into hazy memory. How swiftly I change.