Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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Where I stayed
Adam is such a simple person he is actually hard to describe.
He is kind of there but not filling much space, he doesn't say much though he's not being sullen and when he does I don't understand him, or I do and I don't know what he means.
If I don't say what I want - I don't always want - he'll ask me or suggest something.
He has a will to please.
He eats a lot, whatever is on offer, and shyly puts up his thumb when I ask him if he'd like an alcoholic drink, as if saying 'yes' might be too bold. He sleeps a lot too, every activity, great or small, is followed by a rest in his tent, which is a child's tent, pink and blue. He gives off no vibes, kind of neutral, though I think he likes me, he laughs at my jokes which is always gratifying but I doubt if he really gets them
I suspect he just laughs when I chuckle myself.
In his own unobtrusive way he looks after me, makes sure I have sun screen on, reminds me when I forget things and tells me to call if I am scared at night.
He wants to know what my things cost, I find this very embarrassing and pretend I don't know. He is dreaming of buying some land to build a house on so he and his family can live together - we spend more on a laptop. I know, nothing new, but it kind of hits home brought like that.
Anyway, he is not much of a guide, or else it's just the language.
'What's this flower?' 'That is a yellow flower.' Right.
'Look at all those birds. Are they migrating?' He takes time to answer, then solemnly says:
'Those are a lot of birds.'
I admire the fresh, soft grass: 'Yes, this one is special, it is called green grass.'
I swear he was not having me on
We see a large skull, what is it? 'This one was a big animal.'
Well, that's good to know. Fortunately I am not interested in the academic details and find his answers more lovely.
Today we had a peaceful day, an early morning walk, 2 and a half hours, breakfast, then he slept.
Later we went back to the black pond, why is it black? The soil at the bottom is golden brown with some dark residue but the water is perfectly clear even though your skin looks nice and tanned under its surface.
Adam explains: 'When there are many people swimming, maybe even ten, it will go black.'
'No no no no, that's not right and anyway we are the first ones here.'
He laughs as if I have just said something funny.
But somehow the black appealed to him and he now asks me: 'Katherine, shall I take you to the black pond?' Sweet, and I'd like to think the name will stick.
I try to read but my glasses are useless and I am suddenly restless. Out of the blue a storm arrives. It is fantastic, the wind is wild, everything is alive, the light is eerie, trees rustling a rain song, the golden leaves on the ground whirling through the air - I too feel like twirling round. I do, elated, this is a gift from the weather gods. It doesn't last long and excited to share what happened I look for my guide - he is curled up fast asleep in his little pink nest.
Later we go for a sunset cruise, not much sunset, 'Too many clouds,' says Adam dejectedly. I don't want him to feel disappointed for not bringing me a spectacular sunset, I have seen many already in Africa, but never the exotic frogs we see now, perched high up on the reeds, tiny things, different colours and patterns, I could just imagine pinning one of those on my blouse, it would look stunning. And oh, a kingfisher, I gasp. "Everybody loves those, ' says Adam. Of course they do, just look at it. But Adam freezes, and keeps the mokoro perfectly still. Ja, even I heard, hippos, very near. ' Those I don't like,' whispers Adam, 'very aggressive.' Where are they? He points them out, must be 50 meters away. I don't feel any fear, and maybe his is not realistic, but who am I to say? It takes a while before we move on, very carefully
The corn on the cob was delicious and at 9 pm I tumble into the tent, exhausted, but sleep escapes me, unsettling dreams and the sound of the hippos carried over the water keep me awake.
Last day today and Adam predicts it is going to be hot, so we decide on an early walk, lunch and a long, last swim at the black pool.
We see lots of animals this time, Adam is happy. Zebras, giraffes, something that looks like a deer, birds and beetles.
Again Adam halts, hand in the air to warn me to be quiet and whispers: 'Look there, those I don't like.' The look of fear is on his face again, I want to comfort him, don't worry Adam, nothing's going to happen.
What are they? Buffaloes. Surely they are just big cows? 'Those can be very aggressive,' he states respectfully.
I just want to move away from the sun, if we are going to get eaten it might as well be in the shade. Surprisingly he agrees, maybe he is not in the right job, I smile to myself.
I am in a hurry to spend the last hours at the magical pond. Adam dips in too, he stands near the reeds trying to catch the little fish as he has seen me do, his back to me, he looks like a big child.
It is time to leave, I know, we must break up camp and get back to the gate where I will be picked up. I don't want to go. Standing with a towel wrapped around me, to protect me from the sun, for you dry as soon as you leave the water, I give Adam a wistful look
'Go Katherine', he says, 'you must say goodbye to the black pond one more time.'
Bless him, he will have to work harder to get to the gate in time, but I am already splashing, diving in, wondering if I will remember this moment forever, trying not to think that thought, there is just here and now, but I wish now didn't have to end so soon.
Adam, a man who can just sit on a log and stare into void, without making you feel uncomfortable. Three days we spent together, in isolation, in harmony. I felt safe and at ease, and maybe even at peace.
So in his own simple way I think he's rather special, Adam, my poler and guide.