I sat outside last night, gazing at stars. Stars, here, for me, are like the chickens; I know they exist and I’ve seen them before, but suddenly they are all around me, as much a part of the day-to-day landscape as the terracotta coloured dust ingrained in my feet and ankles.
I counted 25 right above my head, one for every year of my life. I tried to take a photograph, but of course, I failed. There is only so much that this tiny little piece of technology can do. So instead, I tipped my head back and stared, and tried to recall the little Yeats I know…
“Had I the heavens embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet…”
Of the houses I have visited, Lydia’s, Cheresia’s, Irene’s and Maria’s, none have boasted lightbulbs glaring their synthetic lights from the ceilings at all hours of the night. You quickly adjust to sitting in the half-light that softly through tiny windows and chinks in doors, a welcome relief from the glaring sunlight outside.
Back home, I will miss the stars. I wish that I was in Tanzania long enough to reset my circadian rhythms – even the jet lag from a 10 hour night flight pales into insignificance when I manage to wake with the dawn.
Last night we sat outside in the almost-pitch black at 8pm, sharing fish and ugali around a low wooden table, turning our heads in the direction of our companions voices as they spoke.
I do not miss England’s fluorescent parades of shops, nor the insistence of the street lights and other peoples windows late at night. I do not miss the curious orange glow of the night time, where it is never quite dark. I do not miss the cities that do not seem to sleep.
Back home, I frequently suffer migraines that put me to bed for days, popping yellow and pink Migraleve and ibuprofen and aspirin by the handful, burying my face in a pillow with the duvet pinned over my head, desperate to shut out the light that makes me feel as though I have a giant, crushing hand gripping my left temple, its bullying fingers forcing their way into the nape of my neck. I have been here a week, and guess what – no migraine. I suspect I could stay here a month (and oh how I’d love to) and the dreaded agony would not rear its ugly head.
Between fried fish, wonderful people, and starlight, my heart has been well and truly stolen away by Tanzania. Away from the heads-down rush-rush-rush of everyday life in England, away from a reliable mobile phone connection, wrapped in a mosquito net and Deet to protect against tiny predators as I sit outside tonight, I have nothing to distract me as I throw my head back, rest my chin upon my hands, and dream into the night, the light, and the half-light.
“Tread softly, for you tread upon my dreams.” – W.B. Yeats.
Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe