Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The long night

There is a realization that my two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer is gonna be more about a dog, and a village, rather than about HIV, and Life Skills. Needless to say, Keoki and the village are getting under my skin, but in ways that I can't comprehend, nor am I gonna question yet. What I do know is that more and more, waves of deep peacefulness are streaming through me, and as much as that has been a foreign feeling in the past few years, I'm beginning to find it nourishing. Sitting on my porch, watching Keoki lying happily and proudly after herding cows out of the yard, he is blending into the red African dirt as dusk descends upon us. It's a sight I soon won't forget....and then night time comes. Sometimes I hate the night here, it's filled with bugs, strange noises, people out in the wee hours, and I worry that someone can just take or harm Keoki, or try to scare me. This isn't always the case obviously, but on this particular night, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did neither---instead I just froze. So much for the wave of peacefulness that was just felt a few hours ago!

The noises started, Keoki is barking his head off, cows are mooing, donkeys honking, bats are screaching and flying into my window, owls are doing their thing, the strange birds that habitat my roof are screaming, bugs are buzzing, and now every dog in the vicinity is barking. If I were to record the sounds, it would not make the top ten of meditation CD's.

I get up for one second, but all I see are stars, lots of them lighting up the sky, and for a moment, this calms me. Quickly though, back to bed because now peoples voices are around and that's what I hate most of all—especially when the footsteps are outside my window. My heart starts to beat hard and fast, I hear Keoki growling and barking right outside my bedroom window, and all of a sudden, I hear this horrible sound from him and then silence. This is when I completely stiffen up...I'm too scared to peak outside, so I just start talking to the gods. Then, I swear, I hear the roar of a lion. I know there is no wildlife like that in these parts, but what if a lion decided to take a vacation to Mmathethe to see what life is like just never know! After all, my fellow PCV's voted me the most likely to adopt a lion! Soon after my mind has deceived me, Keoki is barking again, and I'm relieved he wasn't eaten by the visiting imaginary lion. The symphony of noises are getting louder though, and instead of enjoying the music, I'm getting more and more scared. At least on safari, you expect these noises, but not in a quiet, rural village. All of a sudden, the noises come inside, and I hear this swishing, russling type of noise right next to my bed. I totally freeze now... I just know it's a black mamba...I have to pee...I can't move...I want to call a friend at 2am now, but my phone is on my dresser...I tuck my mosquito net around me, and just start to pray that morning comes fast and I don't pee in my bed, or get killed by an African snake.

Are we having fun yet? Can meditation help in moments like these? Why can't I just enjoy the peace that was given to me earlier? I lay there, stiff as a board, just waiting for the roosters to start crowing. At some point though, the noises stop, exept for the strange noise next to my bed, and I fall asleep for a few hours. Groggy, and glad I made it through the night, I peak out of my mosquito net to find that it wasn't a black mamba afterall, but a two and half inch black ugly something lying on it's back with it's legs fighting to roll over. Ok, so I jumped to the worst possible scenerio, but with all the goings on during the night, it seemed fitting. After getting rid of the bug, I slowly open the back door to find Keoki, happily wagging his tail, and wondering when on earth he's gonna be served breakfast.

Man, what a crazy night! Was I being tested on how to stay calm in the midst of chaos, or was it just one of those things that stirs you into fear and uncertainty and you just have to wait it out? I don't have the answers for this either, but for now, my thoughts are that I would rather have a lion outside in the village vs. a black mamba next to my bed. This is Africa!     


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    Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

    1. Thank you for your best wishes. I would love to read your blog, but unfortunately I do not read spanish. From what I gather, you are a real intellectual!