Friday, 29 March 2013

Hot pink, emerald green, Easter weekend

They send me photos of daffodils poking up through snowy ground, tell me they have the heating on still. I send them pictures of hibiscus, tell them about eating papaya for breakfast.

The lovely Dancing Beastie (also featuring photographs of daffodils and snow) commented on the last post (describing 'frangipani blossoms like heady sunsets', which I just love) and asks if I can tell you where I am. To which the answer is yes, absolutely. I'm in Kinshasa. Congo, Democratic Republic of. 

Six weeks tomorrow and I'm still finding it hard to believe that I am here, that this is my home for the next three years. This country is vast, and complex, and there is so much to learn. 

Happy Easter weekend to you all, even if mine will be slightly less typical than usual, featuring mosquito repellent and pineapples instead of hot cross buns and spring bulbs.


(More pictures of the amazing flora here - flowers which look like sea anemones and are so hot pink as to be almost unbelievable, palm fronds, orchids growing outside (!), oleander cuttings which E brings me from the garden)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sunday at the sandbanks

We make for the river early Sunday morning, take a couple of boats, a picnic, swimwear, head out to the sandbanks. Eat perfectly ripe papaya, drink juice from the cool box. Listen to the radio. Try to rouse ourselves to a game of frisbee, fail in the heat. Sit in the shallows of the fast flowing water to cool down, far too fast to swim against. Walk the circumference of our little sandbank kingdom, watching the birds, the fishermen with their big nets. Water hyacinths, chlorophyll rich, purple flowered. The river is vast, the water copper coloured. Tiny, translucent fish dart erratically away from bare feet. Watch clouds gather dark on the horizon, above the city, back where we cam from, ominous, the storm never materialising.

I am pink from the sun by the time we leave, and feel like I have been on holiday, sand in my hair, between my toes.

Monday, 11 March 2013

So far

The heat, which hits you when you step out of buildings, out of cars, from the air-conditioned cool, hits you like walking into a sauna, water just thrown onto the coals, the air warm and woody. 

Butterflies as big as small birds, birds as small as butterflies.

Swimming in the pool, flame tree above, red flowers, green leaves. Dragonflies which dip and hover. Long legged white birds flying overhead, in formation. Must buy a bird book. 

Must buy a flower book too, because for the first time in my life, my mother's daughter, I no longer know the plants instinctively, can no longer say, snowdrop, lily-of-the-valley, pansy, ranunculus. I can say with conviction hibiscus, oleander, tentatively frangipani, but then there are the giant, star-like almost jasmine, and the bright yellow flowers which look like a child's drawing, cartoonish in quality, the pom poms of red and orange outside my front door, the creeping feathery vine that closes its leaves upon touch, and I am lost in the unfamiliar.

Lizards which dart from light to shade, and then are still, watching. 

Papaya and pineapple, stacked for sale on the roadside, bunches of blackening bananas. New types of fruit, the mangosteen, reddish purple, a new taste, but close to lychee.