the long way home

9 Nov 2011

Early morning I borrow W’s truck to bring some firewood into camp. I send Bernardo, my man Friday, on to Makandazul village to set up a meeting with the local chief. With H on hand to interpret, it’s the perfect time for an official visit to establish neighbourly relations.

We arrive there at eight and are offered chairs under a tree, but the chief has gone out to his fields already and no one knows when he’ll be back. My official visit gets unofficially abandoned and W and H push off south, taking Friday with them since it’s his week off.

Friday lives in Lisenga village, sixty kilometers from here, and would travel home on his motorbike when he got leave. But the bike blew its engine and he’s been more or less stranded since. There’s very little chance of traffic on the lonely sand track that leads to the Limpopo river and the town of Mapai.

Today however, Friday is a happy man. He’s going home.

He’s getting a lift to Massingir (five hours), from where he can catch a taxi ride to Chokwe (one and a half hours), from where he can take a train to Mapai (about five hours), from where he’s sure to get a ride to his home 25km away.

Happy, yes.

Distance, like time and all other things that we try to quantify, is relative, I guess.

The village of Makandazul, a collection of about 50 scattered huts, is about seven kilometers from my camp.

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