Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The town sits in the palm of great jutting mountains and when I arrive everyone at the guest house assumes I've come to climb them. "When are you going up the mountain?" "Did you climb the mountain today?"

They seem slightly disappointed that I am not here to climb the mountain.

Ever year on New Year's Eve, people travel from all over the country and beyond to climb the mountain and ring in the new year on top of the big rock. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the light

The light was cartoonish on Lumley beach this evening with the bright faded yellow of the Casino right up against the blue deepening of the sky. Behind a tree the setting sun hid orange and the clouds smudged pink to blue-grey. Behind me a solitary girl walks towards me with a neon pink tank top with OBAMA GIRL on the front. I turn to walk back and see two people jogging down the beach over the rust-coloured clumps of seaweed washed in from who knows where. One head bobbing in the evening waves. a forgotten cotton cloud resting on the mountain. Fishermen silhouettes throw lines from the rocks by the tree where the sun was hiding, now gone. Everywhere a darkening pinkishness. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

There is a tree in our back garden that is full of birds. As I sit at the dining table writing I look up and see the branches bouncing up and down like diving boards, birds landing and dropping and flying off. The tree is an apple tree; local apples – yellow with a pink blush, small rounded pyramids clustered under the shade of foot-sized leaves. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Banana Island. Sunday. 

where do you want to be in five years? 
my imaginary guidance counselor says to me
and I think

what happens when the shiniest thing in the ocean is a bottle cap?
what happens when you see an eel's tail flailing from beneath a rock - 
only to find it is the ribbed arm of a sandy sea-drowned jumper. 

the fish do not fight the waves
but they have tiny translucent fins
like delicate geisha fans
using the tug and pull to their advantage

and I think

does that parrot fish
have a five year plan?

Jesus said the birds in the trees and the fish in the sea 
don't worry about paying rent or what's trending on yahoo

but he is wrong. 

birds make nests and I need a place to sleep tonight. 

and in five years? 
I will still need a place to sleep. 

and fish? 

well maybe fish
with their effortless to-ing and fro-ing
with their tiny translucent fins
with their round mouths hoovering the rocks they might call home

maybe fish do just live 
by the grace of God. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

dancing with devils

(9 April 2012) Freetown, Sierra Leone - Every Easter, hundreds of traditional "devils" come out to dance through the capital, Freetown, displaying elaborate animal heads. Each "devil" comes with a fan base from its neighbourhood and, often, a budding politician looking to raise their profile on the street.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It is really really bright outside. I am having a hard time coming to terms with the brightness. I forgot my sunglasses at home. I’ve been up since 2:30 this morning and you would think watching the dawn slide in millions of tiny increments into day would prepare you for the shock of the brightness of day, but it doesn’t.

Two days ago I was in California - green and wet and misty. The light refracted and subtle. Today I am walking down the street in Freetown, the sun high and bright, dust and sweat.

It’s almost impossible this transition. It’s impossible to make sense of it, unless you begin to think one or the other is a dream.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

breakfast with eggs benedict will not change anything.
the eggs are not as tasty as I'd hoped.
the coffee slides down.
the chatter surrounds. us.
you talking about work.
and what you have found out about yourself.
you seem happy.
you seem to be enjoying your eggs.

Occupy Mugabe

The Strand. Wintry sunset shining orange over grey buildings. It’s cold. You can see smoky breath from mouths of shoppers rushing with bulging bags from early new years sales. And outside the Zimbabwean embassy – ten years of drumming and singing and whooping and ululating and praying. Puffs of warm breath and hope and will expelled from the mouths of bundled African women.

They arrived here in 2002.

Shoppers pass by them with bags, bankers with briefcases, tourists with excited chatter.

Black skin greyed with the cold, maybe thirty, or thirty-five people cluster inside two metal barriers, decorated with photos of Mugabe and, more recently I assume, of Gaddafi, and banners in the black red yellow green of the Zimbabwean flag.


A huge WANTED poster with Mugabe’s mug shot and a list of hundreds of names, the dead and disappeared. The reward offered: Freedom for the People of Zimbabwe.

At the table in front, the woman asks for any donation I can make.

We are completely self-funded, she says, rubbing her hands in the cold.

Next to clipboard petitions to the United Nations and the European Union asking them to withhold aid to the SADC countries until they face up to the reality in Zimbabwe, there is a clear plastic container, the kind penny sweets come in, with a clutch of small change, a few pound coins among the silver and bronze.

A stone’s throw from the group, occupying the corner of a great stone building on the Strand, the embassy’s tall windows display the more positive aspects of Zimbabwe’s culture. Small wooden statues and photos of Victoria Falls, healthy smiling boys and girls, with the Ministry of Tourism’s strapline: Zimbabwe, A World of Wonders.

Embassy officials take photos of the activists and send them back to the mother country so the government can monitor dissidents, the woman says.

I empty the change out of my purse. It amounts to less than a pound. I drop it in slightly ashamed (and more ashamed now as I write).

Those who returned, she says, were detained on arrival.
It can’t just be Mugabe, I say. It can’t just be one man that made this happen.
Even Tsvangirai has joined in now, she says. He is the same thing. They eat at the same table.

My shopping bags are heavy; I put them down between my feet as I sign both petitions and wish them luck. I walk away and then turn back. The group is praying together and puffs of warm air rise upwards.