Monday, 23 March 2015
Today we welcomed the rain. It has been hot and dry the last few weeks as the dry season winds down. Water has been scarce, and some enthusiastic people planted their little patch of ground weeks ago in anticipation of the rain.
They have been waiting, and today the rains arrived. They announced their arrival with a huge black cloud and strong winds. We brought in the still wet clothes from the clothesline and hung them wherever we could find space.
Christian came in just as the first drops started. The kids stopped painting and listening to the story I was reading and rushed to the windows to watch small rivers of water form outside. The rain came down hard and heavy, and splashed through the windows, forming pools on the floor. We ran to get some towels and sat in silence, conversation nearly impossible over the deafening roar of water on the tin roof.
And just as suddenly as they had arrived, the rains quieted into a gentle whisper. The kids got their rain clothes and gumboots on and went out to jump in the puddles and play beavers, building a dam with the off cuts of wood left lying around after Christian's last project. I drank coffee and enjoyed the brief moments of silence before I knew they'd come tumbling back in, cold and muddy and needing a bath.
This is how you'll find us the next few weeks, in our white house on muddy hillside, living and working around the downpours of the Rwandan rainy season.
Friday, 20 March 2015
After looking for somewhere close to Johannesburg, we stumbled across Go Safari, who organised the whole stay for us, including transport from Jo'burg to the game reserve. Perfect. They were really helpful, finding us an alternate safari when our first choice turned out to be fully booked. They arranged a stayover at the family friendly Cheetah Ridge Resort, in Nambiti Game Reserve, which is in the Kwa-Zulu Natal of South Africa.
We arrived in Johannesburg late at night, and Susan and Glen came to pick us up the next morning from our hotel. They told us all about the history of South Africa and the area while we drove through the most spectacular countryside. Low, rolling plains, punctuated with the amazing Drackensburg Mountains.
After a four hour drive, we arrived at Nambiti. There was time for lunch and a brief swim in the pool before heading out on our three hour game drive. We were the only guests there, and had the car and ranger to ourselves. It was perfect. Plenty of time to stop and look at the animals, without having to worry about disturbing other guests. We saw many of the most important animals on our list.
After driving around for about 2 hours, we stopped for an evening snack. We enjoyed some local delicacies, and headed back to the lodge, spotting some hippos on the way. The kids were a bit disappointed we didn't see any hyenas, but we agreed to have a good look the next day.
When we arrived back at the lodge, dinner was waiting for us. At Cheetah Lodge, they pride themselves on being family friendly. We felt really welcomed with our kids, and they didn't mind that the kids lay on the zebra skin rug playing with their schelich animals while we ate dinner (8.30pm is a little late for them to eat, and they stuffed themselves on snacks at 6.30pm!). We went to bed early, in anticipation of our 5.30am start the next day!
I'm looking forward to sharing day 2 of our safari next week!
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
She walked over to the pony, full of confidence, with a determined look on her face. Silently, she listened to everything her Auntie Shell said, giving only a slight occasional nod to acknowledge she'd heard and understood. She stood by his side, with a brush in hand, and with long, slow strokes, she brushed his matted hair until it shone in the already hot morning sun. She walked slowly around him, brushing everywhere, and finally crawling beneath his belly to brush him there.
My breath caught in my throat, and I was suddenly transported back in time. Another pony, but the same determined face and long brush strokes. I remembered the way I'd brushed my pony, Chicka, until she shone, crawling right under her to reach every part of her, while my own mother held her breath in fear.
She helped put the saddle on him, and adjusted her maroon helmet before leading him to the riding arena. Such a serious, determined face. She got up on his back, with some assistance, before assuring Auntie Shell that she could do it. She sat, straight back, squared shoulders, and slowly squeezed his sides.
"Walk on, Thunder".
Around and around they went, over the small jumps, and eventually she decided it was time for him to trot. She squeezed his sides, but he didn't agree. She gave him a sharp kick, and he leapt into action. The old pony trotted around, pulling her towards the gate every time he went past. And she pulled right back, trying to get him to stay on track. But old ponies are much stronger than five year olds, and they ended up by the gate, every time.
Her face was determined and serious, and she didn't return my smiles, but I could see the joy in her eyes. She loved it. After riding Thunder, she looked at Auntie Shell, my oldest sister.
"Can I ride Comet?"
And my heart was in my throat once again.
Family. memories. priceless.
Monday, 16 March 2015
...waiting for rain. the rainy season is due to start any day, and the ground is hard and dry. we haven't planted our little veggie patch yet, as the ground is like concrete, but we will after the first rains come and soften the ground a little.
...planning for next month's kcw (kids clothes week). the theme is wild things. i think i'll need to order fabric for this one.
...dusting off the sewing machine after a three month break and trying to remember how to sew.
...looking forward to chicken on the menu after receiving a rooster as a gift last week. a live one. that's going to be an experience!
...working on project life pages. i am already so behind this year, and i seem to have lost my groove. i'm hoping to get that back, as the "family books" are still the favourites around here. so many stories to be told.
...reading "peaceful parent, happy kids" and trying to change my approach.
...watching episodes of call the midwife, season 2. the best christmas present!
...chatting with my sisters in law after discovering what's app actually works here in the internet black hole. it's life changing.
...laughing at lucy's crazy three year old antics.
...playing blind man's bluff (blindebuk), camel cup and angry birds uno with the kids...on repeat!
what are you currently up to?
Friday, 13 March 2015
|a little reminder...|
as i've grown up and become older, i figured i should also start setting some goals for myself. i would read other blogs, fantastic goal setters, with all kinds of wonderful tips on how to make and achieve your goals. excellent stuff, really. only, i could never make it work for myself, and i'd invariably end up disappointed with myself.
by the end of the year, i had decided that this one little word business wasn't really for me. one day, i was feeling frustrated with myself over the lack of stories i have recorded. my family have always been wonderful story tellers, and there are never a lack of new (or sometimes old favourites) stories when we are gathered. i had stopped telling stories along the path of my life, and they were filling my head. that's when i realised that this was my word. story. i had just been choosing the wrong kind of words for myself.
this year, my focus word, my "one little word" is story. i have so many stories waiting to be told. i have a life full of stories, if only i will stop to recognise them. they beg to be shared, in one way or another. my desire for this year is to actively share my stories, to cultivate the art of storytelling in my life. and my hope is that by the end of the year, we will have many more of our family stories recorded.
i know it's customary to do these kind of posts first up in the new year, but i've never really been the type to follow conventional paths. even though it's already (mid) march, and i'm tempted to scrap the whole thing, i've given myself a little reminder.
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
I walk to the top of the street, and before long they see me. The moto drivers. I wave to one of them and he drives over to me. I tell him where I want to go, and we briefly negotiate price. It's easier when you know the going rate. I climb onto the back of the motorbike, and we head carefully out of the village. I think I picked a good driver. The mudbrick houses slowly give way to open landscape, and green rolling hills with small clusters of cows, and boys with sticks watching them. We pass people along the way, carrying bundles of firewood on their heads, pushing bike loads of green bananas, or carrying passengers on their bicycles. The landscape zooms past us, and I feel relaxed and free. We pass the low lying fields, where we once saw a family of baboons playing, and head into town. Although the traffic is heavier, it's still a quiet place, and we easily negotiate our way to my favourite place in town. The Demi-Sheraton. On my way in to my favourite hut, I call out the greeting, "mirriwe!". A waitress heads towards me, and I order a drink. I settle into my hut, dig out the laptop and mobile internet, and get to work.
We are settling back into our routine after the longest break. Two months in Australia with family, a week back in Rwanda, and two back to back weeks of visitors from Denmark have thrown routine out the window. But they have given us something else. A renewed desire to throw ourselves into life here. And, on the horizon, a new season for us, with both of us involved in making a difference in this community we call home.