“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Monday, 31 July 2017

First day working on Linda Blind Farm

Seriously poor nights’ sleep – the huge dip in my mattress combined with dogs barking til all hours meant a fairly broken night, so I treated myself to a couple of slices of toast and marmite for breakfast around 7am. We spent the next hour waiting for managers Kennedy and Rabeccah to arrive, sat with Paddy (a 19 year old Irish lad) who was marking exam papers with a hangover before school.
Such an awesome welcome from Rabeccah and Kennedy – within minutes Rabeccah was transferring her belongings to her new gifted handbag and preparing to head into town. Before she went though we talked though our plans for last years school and Linda farm. She was very supportive and thankful that we had approached her first – giving donations directly causes all sorts of unseen problems… jealousy, corruption and the “gimme gimme” response so many people misunderstand. Thankfully she also sorted out a hefty taxi discount for us for the week. It was listening to these negotiations on her phone call that I noticed a pattern in the language she used…. The parts of the conversation that are conducted in English always seem to be related to time… words like “tomorrow” and “last time” are always said in English, the rest in their tribal language of Nyanja – I’ve come to the conclusion that time is not part of their language at all. When you live out here, this makes sense… everything out here happens in “African time”.
Our taxi driver, “Obey”, was part way through cleaning his cab when Rabeccah’s call came in and so my back seat was wet – in horror at the fact that his “Muzungu” (white person) passenger was getting a soggy bottom in his cab he immediately whipped off his shirt, whilst driving, and handed it back to me insisting I sat on it!
We arrived at Linda Farm about 945am and Songisa took us round – chuffed as nuts with the photobook of images from our visit last year. The team were already hard at work in the fieds, watering the rows by hand with a hosepipe. A Dutch family had kindly installed a new irrigation system last week, but sadly the river-fed water pump couldn’t deliver sufficient water in the time available each day to make it worthwhile – the cost of running the pump for that long just didn’t make it viable, so they are re-thinking the situation and connecting manual hoses to the system instead.
Tracey and I immediately got to work taking up hoses and working our way along the rows of onion, and cabbage under the scorching African sun. We broke for a surprising 2 hour lunch at noon and realised we hadn’t actually brought any lunch with us – D’oh! 2 hours is a long time to kill with nothing to do, so we decided to take a walk up river to the local bridge where we found a bunch of school kids waiting for their ride home. One of the lads was being taunted for being genuinely fat and with massive holes in the soles of his shoes, whilst the rest of the girls were obsessed by our hair and kept grabbing and pulling it in fascination.
The watering started again at 2pm this time in a field of aubergines for over an hour during which I managed to get wind and sun burn on my face and neck. Not our smartest first day… lack of food and lack of suncream, but at least we were still smiling and every single aubergine had had a personal shower (I became a little obsessed!).
We wandered back down the lane to meet the taxi around 4pm and met Bernard (the blind farmer) on his way home – how the hell this guy finds his way around is a mystery, let alone swing a scythe all day hacking bushes back. Incredible.
When we finally arrived back at the Sunbird we were hot, smelly and starving and so demolished a giant bag of crisps and a couple of beers each before heading over to the communal dining room for dinner….. pork and none other than aubergines! A fitting end to a fantastic day.

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