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Wednesday, 26 October 2011


The main entrance to Chikuni MissionStrange things are happening in Chikuni. There’s rumours and talk. Talk of spirits and strange goings-on. On a hill known locally as Singonya Hill. People saw fire on top of the hill at various times during the night on the weekend before last. This talk has reached the very edges of the parish, including Michelo over forty-five kilometres away. Nobody knows what was happening but people are curious and like to talk about such things. The rumours have even reached me, but there’s probably a reason for that…

At some point between midnight and three am I hear a man, down in the valley signing a ‘happy’ little ditty and later on I hear women singing a lonesome haunting song to the beat of a drum. People all around me are asleep and the night is cool despite the hot days now. I feel very happy having thought of, planned and am now in the middle of executing, a very fine adventure. You see, during the Sunday of my snake-tastic weekend I went for a picnic to a nearby hill. While there I thought that it would be a splendid place to spend a night and I thought the best time would be when the full moon was there. So a plan formed and I decided that the October full moon was the best as November is rain season and nobody likes camping in the rain (unless you’re a freak; yes like the thousands of people who go to waterlogged British music festivals).

The rest of the adventure went something like this… We set off late on Friday evening and by the time we made it to the bottom of the hill the sun was already setting in a blaze of red in the West. Chobe wildlifeI raced ahead to the top to set up camp and made it just as the last of the light was fading. Kebby, Dr. Sam and his two boys arrived about ten minutes later to a swept camp area and a fire. Sam brought a tent and he set that up while I fumbled around in the darkness for more firewood. We had dinner that I had prepared in the afternoon (rice and extra yummy BBQ'ed chicken) followed by delicious yogurt cake made by Dr. Sam's wife. After everyone was 'full' I broke out the marshmallows and suddenly everyone could manage to eat just a little bit more. Strange that! I'd forgotten how ridiculously lush toasted marshmallows are. Soon my teeth where whaling in pain and so, you know, I just had a few more. Somewhere during cake, the moon arrived. It was bright red because of the angle of the sun relative to the moon I assume. It rose higher and higher and changed from red to orange to yellow to its familiar cream. After washing their teeth the two boys went to bed leaving me, Sam and Kebby to enjoy the fire.

With the moon up and it's brightness in full effect I went off on another expedition to find enough firewood to get us through the night. When I came back dragging branches behind me, I stoked the fire with the fresh lumber and we settled down for the night. No sooner had Kebby said the immortal words, “I'm not going to sleep tonight”, than he was fast asleep. I laughed quietly to myself. I too managed to sleep though it was quite fitful. At some point around midnight, Kebby told me the fire had burnt down. I said something like "that's nice" and rolled over to continue sleeping. Then I felt a nudge and Kebby repeated his statement. My sleep-soaked brain then registered that this was my queue to add more firewood. So I got up and moved the branches and tree trunk closer to the fire and soon there was a raging fire again. I seemed to add a lot because soon the fire was raging, about 1 meter into the sky. Kebby was soon fast asleep again and once the fire died down a bit and there was limited risk of us burning to death, I too drift back to slaying dragons, winning the lottery and Jessica Alba. Sometime after 3am the wind picked up and it got cold so once again I added more wood. Later still, a spider decided to try and climb my hand but I jerked with the sensation and all I saw was it making a hasty retreat towards the luminescent darkness. I slept on and off until 5, adding firewood as required when I started to feel cold.

Dawn The camping possewas amazing! I climbed a tree to get a better view and was blown away yet again by the beauty of this world. After breakfast and clearing up we went to explore another dam and then headed for home. I think we got back to Chikuni around 9:30 in the blazing heat.

So it would seem your reporter is causing much talk amongst the villages. I had to laugh when Fr. Andrew told me about it just two days after the event, having celebrated mass on the Sunday in Michelo and being asked if he knew anything about the activities on Singonya Hill. People looked at me very strangely as I set off with full backpack on Friday complete with axe strapped to the outside. Strange mukuwa I’m sure they thought to themselves and voiced to their friends and neighbours. I’m used to it by now though and don’t mind.

Your camper in the middle of nowhere

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