Ever-friendly: as mzungus we stick out a mile, but not once so far have we felt threatened. Quite the opposite. We are greeted everywhere with beaming smiles, tiny children and adults alike waving, desperate to say hello, shake our hands, high five us, give us the thumbs up, waves and offers of help from complete strangers, including the mute. Everyone is delighted to teach you their language, ecstatic when you manage a few words and chuckle after every sentence. We are constantly found hilarious but in an endearing way-they are thrilled to hear we have tried the local dish ‘sema’ and laugh cheekily when we refer to ourselves as mzungus. They are incredibly patient…although nothing in Africa happens quickly anyway apart from the sunset.
One of many incidences highlights the spirit of so many:
A beggar on the street asked us for our empty plastic water bottle which I gave him. His following demands for money (which we hear so regularly), Doug’s cap & watch, we had to reject. Turning away from those disheartened eyes is always heartbreaking yet as we pulled away in the car, he was waving and grinning goodbye as though we were long lost friends.
Such a welcome and happiness for these rich mzungus and yet they come from some of the poorest countries in the world. Mile after mile of unforgiving landscapes we pass shack villages that haven’t changed since ancient times, their inhabitants ingrained with a deep community spirit, hit by constant power cuts (if they even have power), water, fuel and food shortages. Seriously lacking in healthcare and education, populations are crippled by HIV/AIDS and a resulting abundance of orphanages, children toil, women with babies on their backs bake in the heat all day long to try and sell their fruit. Most are at the mercy of the most corrupt politicians. Life is cheap, hard, unfair and does not last very long.
Of course these are my observations from my very limited experience of Africa but they must be mentioned in the blog as we are constantly stunned by the people as we are the rest of this amazing continent.