Sunday, 28 January 2018

The House at Pooh Corner.

It’s a Sunday afternoon , January 2018. I’m sitting on the veranda, at 4:30pm. I think it must be about 28 degrees. In between hot flushes, the gentle breeze makes it feel quite pleasantly warm.
Basically, it’s a very ordinary day. I have been pondering lately, how much the extra-ordinary can become very much the ordinary in quite a short space of time. The cause of my pondering has been the fact that 2018 promises the arrival of three visitors. Not since 2013 have I had any visitors from my ‘home’ to my life here in Burundi. I have to confess to still thinking that, I’m not going to believe until I see said visitors walking through the doors at Arrivals in Bujumbura Airport.
The prospect of visitors has brought back memories of how things looked and felt to me when I first arrived over 5 years ago.
Today (or last night) though an event happened that still feels exciting. One of the hippos from the lake came for a walk all the way up the roads from the lake, across the main road and up our road and passed our house. What’s really exciting ? It pooed all up our wall, just beside the gate! Hippo’s have an awesome system of muck spreading their poo. So it’s splattered up a bush and onto the wall. It then proceeded to leave some great footprints and move onto eating all the sweet potatoes and maize, our Worker, Mariko was growing on the verges outside the compound. Mariko, is not quite as excited as us! We are thinking we will have to pay him compensation, so he doesn’t take any drastic action against the perpetrator.  Even after 5 years, hippo foot prints in the mud make me feel privileged to live in this country.
Look carefully, for the dark streak through the bush!
Another thing that amazed me when I first came were the bamboo stands. I’d be out walking and suddenly there would be these giant stands of bamboo. It felt like I’d become a character in the film ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids.’ Last, year about this time we planted a bunch of bamboo roots. Now a year later we have our own beginnings of a huge bamboo stand. One of my favourite relaxation activities is to wander round the garden and just look at how much the bamboo has grown. Standing under it listening to the distinct rustle of the leaves and watching how the stems wave in the breeze, costs nothing, sounds quite dull on paper, but so satisfying in reality.
Veranda View
As I write, not so great things – the flies that keep landing on my face, legs and any area of skin revealed. Together with the oh soooo irritating pang of itchiness, which lets me know a mosquito has just left the restaurant! But more positively, the Weaver birds twittering on the bush beside the veranda. Mouse birds chattering in the Ox-heart tree and the swallows swooping in the palm tree. There is really no need for a TV, I still love that I can sit here and just listen and watch the world go by.
Wall Splatter.
New and Old transport.
After nearly 3 years riding a scooter, I have almost graduated to a car. I say almost, because I am having just a few issues with the paperwork to get my car properly on the road! Again it made me think back to my first  experience of the roads here. I remember quite clearly, thinking, ‘I shall never drive in this country!’ It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.  I couldn’t process all the information flying at me. Bikes piled high with grass, tables and chairs, bricks, you name it.. Little yellow, three wheeled vehicles (Tuk Tuks) weaving in and out of all the traffic, apparently exempt from all adherence to any Highway code or thought of rules of the road.  Motos and motorbikes, helmetless riders, stacked with anything up to three passengers. Buses (of the mini bus variety) looking like veterans of many Stock car races. Clearly, no such thing as an MOT here, I thought. Trucks, hanging together with string and sellotape. Then all these Prados and Terranos and other monstrosities, ploughing through the lesser species, with a honk of horn and total disregard for room to pass by.
I was definitely NEVER getting behind a steering wheel in this country. Now I am the proud owner of a Suzuki Jeep. Still getting used to getting in the passenger side, even though I’m the driver.  Trying to stop groping around the door handle to find the gear stick. But it’s awesome to be dry and not spitting flies and dust out of my mouth whilst I’m getting from A to B.
But what I’m really looking forward to, is taking one of my prospective visitors out for a spin. This particular visitor has a bit of an issue with driving in the UK. I am thinking that once she has experience the utter chaos here, the UK roads will feel much less harrowing. Or maybe she will just have a heart attack!
I am so looking forward to sharing all this with the visitors. Being able to look at it all with fresh eyes again. Seeing it all with that sense of awe and wonder. (Well maybe not the

Pzzzzzzffffffttttttttt of the wretched mosquito in the middle of the night!) But so many other things.
One year old Bamboo
I live in a country where I don’t have to get upset about dog mess on the pavement or in the park. I live in a country where I can be oh so proud that a hippo swished his tail and spread muck up the wall outside my house. As I step out of the gate, I can smell the sweet aroma of hippo dung.
I live in a city where you can tell it is 6:23pm , because the giant fruit bats leave their roosting trees in the centre and silently glide across the city and out to their feeding grounds. That sight never ceases to fill me with awe. Where I can see the sunset over the Congo mountains if I walk to end of the street.
I’m so glad the prospect of visitors has given me opportunity already to look at life with fresh eyes again.

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