Sunday, January 10, 2010

One Step Past One-Hundred

This is apparently my post #101, according to blogger!


Sunday morning, and the sun is shining through the volcanic dust that has marred our sky for a week. (Last night we found Pele’s Hair on our outdoor dining room table. It is crazy stuff, lava spun out by the wind until it is thin as a strand of your bangs and the color of amber resin.) Yesterday I inflated my new rowboat and today seemed the perfect opportunity to lift it (her – aren’t boats female?) up over the razor wire on our molten rock beach and take it (her) for a spin.

I had asked Santa Claus for a rowboat – $30 on – but Santa Claus had read that over-the-top New York Times article about the lake gases several months ago and thus said “Absolutely not!” to my request. This left me to arrange the logistics of the purchase myself. (Santa Claus, reading this, is not going to be happy with me, but luckily he is on a ski trip with some of his good friends right now, several continents away from me. Hopefully, they will buy him a beer and tell him that his worries are misplaced.) I got my boat, I got it/her back here – and I have just dragged it/her back up over our shoreline after a very satisfactory expedition.

Looking at our house – one of the two compounds that we spend our life traveling back-and-forth, back-and-forth between – from long meters out to sea, and seeing how small it looks, and how tropical/exotic, with the huge palm trees and multi-colored flowers, is bizarre. It made me wonder who lived there, because I couldn’t possibly, right?

Looking out at the rough shacks on the MONUC soldiers’ beach front – looking at MONUC as a whole from the other side – the side that is not all high metal walls and machine-gun guard towers – also was strange and worthwhile. What must it be like to wake up each morning and find yourself locked up there, when your family is in India or Columbia or South Africa?

A half-dozen little boys and their sister swam out to greet me in my little boat. We talked in French as they doggy-paddled and I struggled with my oars. They swam way out far to keep up with me, which made me nervous for them and made me keep closer to shore, but they were safe enough – not pretty swimmers, maybe, but very strong swimmers.

And then I lay back and felt the waves rocking me, like the light, bouncy turbulence in an airplane that is the best kind – or like a swing – or like a cuddle in a cushiony rocking chair.

I named my little boat bird-fish in Swahili – bird for her colors (yellow and blue, like a parrot), and fish for obvious reasons. Ndege-Samaki.

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