Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Africa Part 11

Taught poetry at Thusanang Trust as a continuing education program for preschool teachers. The unit was on communication, and I hope I communicated the emotional reservoirs that are poems, and poets and people. We read Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, and if I had my way I would have assigned them poems to write about their parents as well, following our discussions. How beautiful that morning was, wondrous and humming with life.

How fast its been, 3 months that sprinted by. I had one last Sundowners with a Franschhoek merlot up in the clouds on my flight. Parting and its sweet sorrow made my heart heavy, especially when Tani, the lady who runs the little goodies shop across from Bjatladi Youth Center, pressed into my hands a little cake. "For the road." So I meet to part, and part to meet, and am reminded of that Kerouac quote: "But no matter, the road is life"
Life life life. I seem to have used the word quite a bit in all these postings, but most obviously in this one. Recently as I was about to leave, I felt the appropriateness of S&G-funk's line, "I'm empty and aching and I dont know why"-- But I think now I do. It could be that with the end of this time in SA, I felt that I couldn't change these kids' lives, but they have changed mine more than they may know. What I have done I suppose is change their days, challenged them with anatomy lessons and dance: a departure from doing nothing. And a day qualifies as life, I suppose. For this I feel a little..."remorseful" isnt the right word. "Bad" is too elementary. "Guilty"? Maybe. But really, what I am is grateful.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Africa Part 10

This weekend, I slept under Orion's belt, sword, and other belongings, twinkling in the pitch. Waking up in the middle of the night was wondrous--I had always known intellectually that the stars moved, but 3 hours later, discovering that really they had, was an awakening. If nothing else, being in South Africa has fired up a desire to camp and hike, and invite myself outdoors much more. Hiked up Blouberg Mountain today, and I must say the experience has been trying and triumphant, exhausting and exonerating. Probably obvious is the former word in each set, but freeing in the sense that I had never spent a night outside like this before, and that I helped welcome the sun with salutations at dawn. The gushes of wind atop the rock were strong enough to lift the hair off my shoulders and back-- making me feel lighter.

I can't imagine not writing in journals, blogs, on napkins and receipts. Looking for ways to aptly describe the shades of green and terra cotta on this mountain--depending on time of day-- is a mental challenge that engages me as much as hiking, and rock climbing. The latter-- almost like a dance, negotiation and placement of weight, speed.. I'll definitely do it more when I'm back. The day long hike on our 2nd day on the mountain ended with a breath-arresting sunset, but before then a view that practically went into Zimbabwe. And what else do I remember?
-butterflies like white confetti on and about the cliffs.
-the mindfulness of hiking
-seeing from the top villages where it was cloudy that day, and villages where it was not, so high up that the clouds seemed attainable. Where does the sky begin? Meaning, how high up is considered sky? I think we were there.

Sometimes during these hikes I would wonder where all the balance I garnered from tango went. I am not a fast, nor graceful hiker, but I enjoyed it. Even falling flat on my backside was strangely comforting to me, in tat I didnt care how good I was supposed to look. It was freeing even, to be able to just slip and sit on the ground, like a child.

I think really what I love about hiking and camping, is that the whole time is a big grand opportunity to take care of those around you, in different ways, or the best way you know how to. Some of us cooked, and cleaned, others made tea, and campfires. Sometimes it's really just waiting for someone on the trail, or lighting their way during a night walk. It is just so human.