Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The River Wild

Yesterday afternoon, I was walking home over the bridge and saw that not only was the river completely full and rushing west towards the coast, but there were people swimming in it! Now, I know us Midwestern river-rats shouldn't find that too unusual, but this is no Mississippi River. The riverbed divides the town, with the stores and nice houses on one side and me and everyone else on the other, so for most of us, crossing it in some fashion is necessary almost daily and cutting through it can cut off 20 minutes of walking time. For my first two months in Namibia, the riverbed was dry and overgrown; giving the illusion that there was once a river, but that it had dried up years ago. I was told early on that the river would indeed fill up, but I was beginning to doubt the locals. Until the rains came. People started saying, "The river is coming! The river is coming!" Within a few hours, the riverbed went from dry as a bone, to a rushing monster (that is not an exaggeration-- I literally walked to work crossing over an empty riverbed and by 9am, we could hear the river from my office as it rushed through the town). The water bares a strange resemblance to Willy Wonka's chocolate river. It is thick and brown from the mud, and there's no possible way to see the bottom, or what's around you for that matter, a situation that, from my experience, can become troubling here in Africa. I'm told that the black mamba snake lives in the dry riverbed so I can only assume that she enjoys swimming in the water just as much as the children do when it's full. And since PC did a sufficient job of introducing us to the black mamba and scaring the crap out of me during training, I've steered rather clear of the riverbed ever since.

SO, perhaps now you can imagine my surprise at seeing the river filled with people yesterday. There had to have been at least 50 of them in there, just having the time of their lives. Children young and old were splashing around or floating downstream in old tires. They screamed when they saw me crossing overhead-- "Miss Lin! Matisa! Matisa!"-- addressing me in KKG just to hear me attempt the clicks, and inviting me to join them, but there was no way. Aside from my unwavering fear of being swept away by this strange and unpredictable body of water, how could I explain to these people that I've seen catfish bigger than them swimming by my house on the Mississippi River in America, and that just the thought of what may be lurking in these waters is enough to keep me dreaming for weeks? They would think I was nuts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story about the river, makes me remember you and your cohorts lolling on the dock and telling the tale of the pre-historic walking catfish that walked back into the river after Kelly caught him.

The Mississippi is beautiful too these days---actually all days, but today especially. Stay well honey.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am reminded of that glorious summer day when we attempted to convince everyone of the enormous catfish that we caught in Lyle's (or whoever the man next door is) net. The same catfish that we lured toward our dock using marshmellows. HA! Stay away from that river, Cait. If there is anything in that river that has half the mean and mad looking face our catfish did....I would be affraid....very very affraid. Love and miss you! Kel

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss having you lovelies lounging sunning yourselves on the dock. I am certain "Lyle" also misses you too.

Stay well fabulous women---if anybody is going to save the world, it's you.

3:56 PM  

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