lost in a forest

On the day Bosco Ntaganda pleads “not guilty’ at the ICC (without being asked), you find me occupied with far more pressing concerns; ME and my inability to enjoy life even when it is going so well.

Things have taken a funny turn recently.   Not ha ha funny but more the curious kind of funny.  I’ve been planning and looking forward to starting this latest placement for months, here in the forest of Nyungwe National Park.  But now that I’m here, am I jumping up and down with eagerness and enthusiasm?  No, of course I’m not.  Oh hang on, here comes that theme again…the gin & tonic enigma

I’m working for an excellent Conservation NGO on a great project in a super house that has hot water coming out of a tap, gas cooking, and an amazing big wardrobe in a lovely room with a window that looks out onto trees with birds in them.   So why do I feel so glum?

I guess it could just be that anti-climax feeling you get when you’ve finished your last exam or submitted a huge piece of work.  Or got someone to like you (oh, is that just me?!).  Anyway, I’m now simply here and working and there are no more things to organise and plan for.  I was living out of suitcases for weeks and now they’re packed away.  It probably has nothing to do with the fact that I have incurred a few (stupid) minor injuries recently that have made me feel a little vulnerable.  And a long way from a doctor and from my lovely friends in Kigali and home. Boo!

It’s also the beginning of the rainy season and I’m struggling with the cold. Even all the hardy rangers are complaining about it.  There’s the occasional break in the torrential downpours and I get to see the wonderful view across to Burundi again.  Then it’s gone.  Yesterday, the hundred metre walk to work presented me with fog, then rain, then sunshine, then fog again.  It’s utterly incredible how quickly the weather changes.   And it’s going to be like this until June. Thankfully, I have piles of blankets to crawl under to go to bed every night but it is a bit of a shocker after Kigali.  And there is no leaping out of bed in the morning.  No siree!

Unsurprisingly, there are rather a lot of critters around here and in my house.  Especially spiders…  There is one rather large black spider who lives in a big crack in the kitchen where the tap comes out of.   He mostly just has his legs dangling out when I pass by.  But sometimes he comes all the way out to show off just how big he really is.  I’ve found that if I blow at him he tends to retreat though.  I’ve named him Robert in a bid at relationship building.  It seems to be working on account of when I was rushing out the other day, I noticed a large spidery-type corpse in the sink where I had just been washing up and was dismayed to find no legs (as usual) dangling from the tap crack.  Robert! I hoped he was just pretending to be dead, the way spiders do.  So I got a fish slice from the drawer and carefully scooped him out of the sink and onto the kitchen cleaning sponge.  When I came back the following day, he was no longer on the sponge and there were his legs dangling from his eyrie.  Order was restored.

I am, however, saddened to report that I’ve seen no hind nor hairy leg of Robert for the past 48 hours.  I fear the worst.  And for my sanity.  Is this what becomes of one when one enters the forest? I haven’t had any alcohol for over a week either.  The shocking truth of my new life lays bare before you dear reader.  It’s been two weeks.  I’m here for six months.  What, I wonder, will emerge after all that time?! At the rate I’m eating large plates of carbohydrates, I’m going to take a punt and suggest it won’t be a butterfly…

On the upside, I’m really looking forward to my lovely Kigali friends coming to visit for Easter.  I’ve ordered wood for the fire, ordered them to bring wine and we shall go a-walking in the forest.  Hope springs eternal I guess…

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