a hard night’s day

14 Dec 2011

All night long it brooded. The air, me, and the bush out there. When a hyena woke me in the early hours with its mournful cry quite close by, I still hadn’t drawn even a sheet over my bare, sweaty body. With humidity way above comfort level, everything is damp to the touch. Paper sticks to your hand when you try to write and your pillow feels soggy under your neck.

Last night was also the moment chosen by the ants to invade my tent. Could it have been an instinct to seek shelter? Well, they didn’t give me any. As if the night wasn’t uncomfortable enough, their little tickles had me swatting and talking Latin for much of the night.

Late yesterday already, over the internet, I got storm warnings for the nearest towns in SA, Phalaborwa and Thohoyandou. But what about this side of the border? This empty part of Mozambique doesn’t feature on most maps, let alone the weather forecast. Will it rain? How much? In four days’ time I’m heading out of here for a break at the Fairest Cape In All The World and the flight is booked. If a hard rain’s gonna fall it may render my way out impassable.

When dawn broke it was through dark clouds, with a breeze picking up from the north. Then, just before six, the thunder started rolling in. Not angry, but still tearing a few ragged rips in the grey veil. As I rushed to get all vulnerable items under some sort of cover, the rain came. Hard for only a short while, then it mellowed out into a soft drizzle as the rumbling drifted off to the south.

Now, after a menacing night, it’s a beautiful cloudy morning. Still too hot to consider wearing a shirt, but the birds are singing joyfully to the gentle beat of raindrops rolling off refreshed leaves and all is well in paradise again.


Jump-starting a beetle

One morning, shortly after the previous rains, the ground was littered with the silver wings of termites that had briefly taken to the air.

Tsetse. An indigenous word that means 'Ouch, dammit!'

4 thoughts on “a hard night’s day

  1. I can SMELL that incoming storm! Best smell in the world – wish I could bottle it and put it in our soaps! Don’t envy you the sweaty nights and tsetse flies though. I remember the first rainfalls of summer in my childhood like they were yesterday – the heat, the heaviness in the air, the first few huge drops that could knock a small child unconscious – and then racing around with my beloved Tobias (“houseboy” and second father) trying to catch the flying ants – which he then fried up for us. They were delicious back then, I’m not so brave any more!

  2. Howdy!
    Sometimes, only sometimes I do NOT envy you….
    Thanks for the beautiful pictures and thanks for explaining the meaning of the word “Tsetse” (they hit me hard last March in Zimbabwe!).

    Take care and stay alive!

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