Friday, 2 March 2012

Amarula Camp

My life at Amarula camp is idyllic. Each morning the light wakes me with enough time to dress, walk to the Banda and take a few pictures of the rising sun. The Banda is a large octagon open shelter with a conical high thatch roof. It provides shade, a meeting place and an impromptu office. Often the breeze blows through, keeping it a cool space to hang out in during the hottest part of the day.
 The birds too, don't hesitate to pass through or stop to pick up a bug or bit of dropped food. Bird song/calls are constant. Beside the Banda there is a red and white bird building a nest on the tip of a branch, an enclosed ball of woven grass and twigs, like an upside down igloo.
 I stood underneath and watched him moving around inside, setting up the boudoir. Apparently he will soon woo a wife who inspects his work by shaking it as hard as a bird can. If it survives, they make babies together.
There are flocks of little yellow birds, single bigger bright yellow birds and pairs of black and white birds with long tails, all  flying back and forth from the many trees on this meadowed slope. I saw  a strange one flying over the tent,  long, black and thin with a bent yellow beak.
 Our night watchman Mohamed has been cutting the grass with the Chinese made African weed whacker. He swings his arms back and forth with such force the grass flies high in the air above his head. The aroma of the African Basil, now sliced and diced is wonderfully fragrant. We've been harvesting it almost daily for our meals. Strangely the locals don't use it.
 After the hay dries, I rake it up and spread it in the garden for mulch, and around our newly planted bananas.

The vistas here are marvellous, across the way to the South, above the river, Kolo/Mnenia mountain covered in the Miombo (forested hillside). Then to the south East more bushy mountains, the Irangi Hills, above the savannah spread out across central Tanzania as far as the eye can see East and North.  Many people are living down there along the rivers, seasonal as they may be. Everyone grows food, so beside the roads, onto the plain and up toward the mountains are fields and fields. Corn, sorghum, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, beans and squash, an occasional plot of tobacco, cassava and many more "vegetables" I'm unfamiliar with.

 Our sleeping room, a safari tent, sits on the Eastern edge of the ridge, and  sounds of the village are carried up by the wind. The call to prayer from the mosque is much more pleasant than the horns of the bus to Arusha at 5:30 am. At that time  we hear the dhikiri- recitations of the 99 names of Allah, hauntingly beautiful.

On the Western horizon more Miombo as the Irangi Hills continue West and North. There is old decrepit rock everywhere here, crumbling granite, some black mix of iron and mica with flecks of green. We drop it and it falls apart. Some seems integral enough for foundation building though.

Our cob cottage is coming along. After a couple of work parties with the "Mamas" from the village we are almost ready to start cobbing. Our glassless windows are ready to be installed along with the doorframe, once the mud starts piling onto the rocks. It is exciting to be building a space we can call our own, even temporarily. I take pictures as it progresses, help where I can and imagine the final product, making (I think) helpful suggestions on some esthetic touches.
We'll see eh?

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