Apr 30, 2005

Peddie

The hills are lush and green and rolling as ocean waves, ebbing and flowing gently before us. We are driving through the hot sunlight and this is Africa. We can’t help but think it, this is Africa.

Paul Simon is booming from the speakers, and I know I will never forget his words, These are the days of miracle and wonder, don’t cry baby, don’t cry.

The earth opens up before us. The sky is wide and blue and the cracked rivers deep beneath us, cutting the earth’s surface with serrated edges, like the knife of God come down upon this land. Our old Volkswagen speeds down the winding highways and each new turn brings us closer to the green open land and small dusty towns we will soon call home.

The window is open and the cool air whips against my hot skin. We wind up onto Peddie. It is a small town, covered in silty orange. The potato man is selling on street corners,herbalists advertise in windows and children run hungry at our feet.

Mama finds us alongside the chickens. She is sweaty and smells of roasting corn. Her head is wrapped in thick fabric and her baby hangs, hot and quiet, from her back. Music blares from cars, old stereos, rusty homes, Cattle in the marketplace, scatterings and orphanages, he sees angels in the architecture, he says hey, hallelujah!

In this town the hills do not roll. There is nothing lush about it. There is concrete and sand. There are trucks and there are barrels of corn meal. There is rust on children’s fingers. There is sadness in their eyes and hunger bulging up from their bellies. We are more hesitant now. We move through with trepidation, our white skin ghostly and pale in the blaring heat.