Congo

Fruit bats singing under the wet skies

I just want you to feel what it’s like for me to be home.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been out much because of this back/leg/arm/foot/disk pain that is making it impossible for me to walk around and hard to sit. So this is my first outing in four days.

The air is so humid. It’s so interesting to be in a place this humid. I left the windows open last night, and my soap melted, and my shirt was wet. My skin is totally hydrated (it was peeling from dryness in France) and my hair has curly ringlets. I forgot what I looked like when I’m at home.

At night, I settle in my large king-size bed with my beautiful mosquito net and the fruit bats outside click and sing and fly around. I read until I fall asleep (the walls of my bedroom are filled with Nobel prize winners, travel writing, and old editions of the New Yorker–mom and dad decorated and hand-picked the books from their libraries for me, as a surprise! I have a BIG big desk) and I push them to the end of the bed and sleep with all my books. There’s still space for me. I wake up in the morning to the wind rustling all the leaves of all the trees in the yard. Eucalyptus, mango trees, bread trees with leaves as big as my face.

It’s so nice after almost three years in a pretty-desertic country to be in a place where lushiousness is so irreverent that it creeps over anything that doesn’t move for five minutes. Grass grows to every inch of earth that isn’t sand or salt water, and even then, just barely. Birds everywhere, ants, spiders, everything you can imagine, i’ts a real jungle, teeming with irrepressible life, and this is in a school, with kids running around, and buildings, in the middle of a large city.

It’s so good to have people expressing real emotions again. Curiosity, happiness, frustration, excitement, joy…seriously, you just forget sometimes how pure people can be. I arrived from the airport, and all the kids gathered around our jeep and pointed, excitedly, it’s Miss Suzie (my mom) it’s Miss Kamal (my dad) it’s their daughter, look!!! It was like the biggest party and from kids who don’t even know me!

Mom and dad just stood there and smiled. They knew I’d missed this kind of human contact in the years since I’ve been gone, and there is something irreplaceable about it. You always say you hate playing games but before you know it you’ve learned the rules.

WE had some prayers yesterday with the employees of the school and sat around afterward, talking and eating peanuts and bananas.

The electricity sometimes goes out at night, around 7PM because the hydro-electric dam upriver isn’t powerful enough to supply that much power to the south of the country.

I was leaving to come to chat this morning, and dad’s musician, Paolo was there. Dad said…”Wait a minute…I want you to hear the first bars of music of my new song, just wait” of course I started whining. And then Paolo, slowly took out his hand-made guitar, and if you’ve never seen one, you’re missing out on something incredibly touching, like a wild-flower. Something humble, simple, and precious. He pulled out his hand-made guitar, and leaned back on the hand-made table behind him, and I looked up at the grey skies above between all the fat lush trees all around, and everything stood still.

And he starting playing the most delicate beautiful song, from that wooden stringed box. A song so light, and penetrating, and then he started singing those beautiful words my father wrote, a touching story about two boys on a long, empty beach.

And I knew I was home.

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