My entire time here I’ve been staring at dried-out dirt and brown husks of grasses. I’ve seen hundreds, probably thousands of cows walking but none actually eating. Ezra decided that it was time for a change of pace. After waiting for some carefully-timed time off, he piled me and Rebecca in the car with their chronically carsick dog Detu and drove 3 hours over to a campsite that he was a fan of.
We went from highways to long stretches of dust road, where passing trucks put you in a sea of whiteout for a terrifying 3 seconds at a time. About 20 minutes from the campsite something miraculous happened. The brown dirt and 10-foot termite hills abruptly gave way to a lush expanse of bright green vegetation. A nearby volcanic ridge was thoughtfully blocking the clouds and supplying the area with rain, and the change was immediate. The cows were fat, happy, and chewing. The people we passed in the streams (streams!!!) that we forded seemed more energetic and happier, and my spirits lifted in a way that they hadn’t quite all trip.
We pulled up to our campsite- a calm bed of leaves underneath a biblically-sized tree overlooking the ridge. Along the slope gigantic boulders had tumbled and come to rest, and a waterfall rushed through them on its way to the thankful people and cows below. Out of the woods emerged two bodyguards, who Ezra paid 25,000 shillings to watch out campsite in case our Landrover driving in attracted unwanted attention. Well situated, we set out to explore the boulders and the waterfall while the light was good.
All trip, Rebecca has been an enigma to me. She has a resolute toughness that makes her instantly endearing, but she seems hesitant to bring much of herself to the surface. That evening as the three of us scrambled up through the rocks and the trees I finally got a sense of who she is. Professionally driven and deeply adventurous, she has the steeled nerves and careful execution that balances Ezra’s ambitious and adventurous nature, a compliment that the two of them seem to realize and use well. The sound of the water was intoxicating, and all of us felt a sense of relaxation and freedom that was unmatched in these past few weeks.
We went back to the campsite and made a fire in the dark under the giant tree, putting together an amazing stew with goods from the Arusha marked. Ezra gently set the voice recorder that’s his favorite new toy, and we swapped stories and wisdom from our respective youths.
The next morning we woke up, cooked breakfast and raced back to the waterfall, where the promise of a dry dun emboldened us to jump in the frigid, fast-flowing water. All around the pool a deposit of pyrite had eroded and gotten in the muck, making the entire pool look as if it was filled with gold dust.
We swam and encouraged Detu in her first experiences with water, then climbed up the boulders until we reached the limit of our technical experience.
With a bit of an afternoon to kill we mulled around the boulders practicing our writing, working on essays and poems that came to mind. Here is my haiku for the waterfall:
Gravity is cruel
To rock and sound and sinew
Thus is born beauty