A year ago or so, I painted this picture. A series of them, actually. All low mountains, deep colors, lots of golden light.
And now I see this scene painted in front of me, full size, earth and sky, every day. Like Bert and Mary Poppins, I’ve somehow jumped into the middle of that canvas, and now I live here.
I drive past warthog, impala, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest on my way to the petrol station. Or into town. Every single morning. And more and more, I drive high on the ridge, bumping along and waving to the members of the community which is quickly becoming a place I feel incredibly at home.
I sit in traditional mud houses and babble at gogos in an odd mix of English, my baby Zulu and a whole lot of hand gestures and smiles. And funnily enough, we understand each other.
I listen a lot. To young men who want to improve their lives and those of their families, who know that they have a lot to offer but just don’t know how to offer it. To old men who hold the secrets to a brave and beautiful culture, afraid it may be forgotten and wanting to teach the young to both revere and preserve that treasure. To women who are bright and beautiful and so very strong, who ask for so little and give so much. To children, too – though mostly I watch their shiny eyes and huge smiles and shy offers of hands to hold.
And I speak. To whoever will listen, about how much good there is in this remote place, about what I see in them, about how much potential there is here. I speak English, and enough Zulu that they know I am trying, and we laugh a lot. We hope and we dream and they explain and I explain and then we sit back and are amazed at how very much we have in common. And how simple it is to see the best in each other, and to move forward from there.
More than anything, though, I wonder how I can possibly convey the magic of this place. How I can explain this feeling of being so full and so on fire and so at peace, all at once? At the joy of finding where I belong, quite some time after arriving on the planet, and that even that long wait was worth it for this. And the incredible connections with such extraordinary souls.
I am, above everything, grateful. And glad. And so very happy to be here.
(This, for my friends who have asked, is why I haven’t been posting much. Not because nothing is happening, but because everything is happening.)