Today I went out with Kioroletswe again to watch him work on his mokoro. He works on it every day, and it will take a month to complete. Maturu and the old lady came too. They called out words in Tsetswana while pointing at grass, tree, lowrie bird etc. and I tried to repeat them. Kioroletswe is a very happy fellow and a hard worker. He has about 2 weeks to go before his dug out canoe is finished. His hands are covered in blisters from all the chipping. I sat for a few hours drawing him while his mother sat watching proudly over the whole scene. The sun gathered momentum, so I went to the river for a swim and to try some fishing. The old lady came to the channel with me before tottering back to the village. I proceeded to catch a series of large and aggressive looking pike, under the rapacious eye of a wonderfully symphonic fish eagle. Frustrated at not being able to get any bream, I left my feathered friend a pike before setting off back to camp. The remaining pike I attatched to a good strong reed. 'Haliaetus Vocifer' was ubiquitos that day as were the pelicans occupying their usual haunt where the river widened. As I was putting on my shoes after crossing the channel, I heard the most amazing sound. At first I thought it was an aeroplane, but on looking up, realised it was a huge bird...( still to be indentified) The noise was produced as it swooped and dived through the air, a loud 'swoosh', as if it were falling. I stood in amazement as it flew off into the trees. Must ask Chris what that was.
Every day I seem to be getting closer to Maturu and the village people. Horelwa watched incredulously the other day as I trod the morula fruit in a large bucket attempting to make some 'okavango wine'. Chris had collected a lot of the fruit and we couldnt eat them all, so thought this might be a good idea. I have left it fermenting in the bucket... I do hope its a success. Bread, the traditional way was next on the menu, and after leaving it overnight in the large three legged pot over a few coals, found that it tasted.... hmmm, not too bad. Maturu likes it anyway! I've kept a loaf for Mike and Chris' return, no reason they shouldn't suffer with the rest of us!
How I am enjoying my art here. It occupies most of my time. I especially enjoy sketching the people, as they are always engaged in some creative activity. Even nose blowing is a physical activity, they do it with such gusto I wonder a blood vessel isnt burst (they use the finger over one nostril method, which I hadnt actually witnessed before).
Today I painted the village again, from the far side of the island and am pleased with the result. Think it worked well because I stood in the shelter of what will soon become a tiny island when the flood comes, and thus avoided the blistering sun. Time does not seem to exist, neither does technology, mechanisation or greed. I'm sure living in an environment like this it would be impossible for anyone to think evil thoughts. I love being ensconced in nature like this.This is the real life.
This evening was wonderful, Maturu, who is such a happy, homely lady, came to visit me. After clearing her nose thoroughly, she squatted down by the fire. I left my writing in an effort to communicate with her, for she was now my guest. She seemed to delight in answering all my questions regarding Tswana words. Kioroletswe soon appeared with his own chair and sporting the white sun cap. I dont think he ever takes it off! There followed another Tswana lesson, which involved me pointing randomly about at vairous objects and them telling me the Tswana words, which I had to then write down quickly or I would forget all.
The pesky cat still scrounges around the camp looking for any tasty morsels left hanging about. At one point, 85% of her disappeared into the 3 legged pot in an effort to devour the remnants of food left in the bottom. This was more than Maturu could stand, she leapt to her tiny feet, marched towards the unsuspecting feline, picked it up by the scruff of its neck and flung it straight over the fire into the trunk of a tree which interrupted it's maiden (altho' I'm not sure this hasnt happened before) flight, causing a loud 'thud' to ring out in the night. That cat has guts, as it came right back for more. Even the chickens gang up on it, a wonder it's still in one peice. It must be on life #8 at least. I named the cat 'Biggles' after the old WW11 pilot and allowed her to sleep on my bed after that.
The week I spent alone with Maturu was very interesting and productive. I learned a great deal about all kinds of things, perhaps most about myself. It seems I do my best work when I am free from distraction, which is difficult in the first world, but here there is a different peace and I love to watch Maturu and Kioroletswe live in such harmony with their environment.
Mike left today,back to Alaska. We went with him to Baboon camp to see him off. He was getting a lift into town with Tom. 'If I don't see you in the future, I'll see you in the pasture' were his parting words. This made me cry, I know we will miss him. Chris told me to 'put a stone in your stomach' which apparantly is what the Zulus say for 'be brave'.
Chris and I are going with an African fellow called 'Smiler' and Mungabe, from Baboon camp up into the perennial swamp, stopping at islands along the way. I can hardly wait, I am so excited to see another part of the swamps.