Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Finding the story - Jo Carroll

I'm in Malawi - lucky me!  I'll try not to go on about the scenery or the weather (or the snakes and leopards ...)

As ever, I scribble in my notebook all the time I am away. I filled one exercise book (narrow lined) in the first ten days I here. I notice as much as I can, the big things and the little things and the strange things, and I reflect on how I feel about them all. The plan, when I get home, is to go through all this twaddle and see if I can find a story.

For instance: my guide is called Everlasting. Surely his name a story in itself.

Lilongwe, the capital, is divided into sections each with a prescribed function and housing density. Those in low density areas live behind walls and security, with gardens and swimming pools, and shop in one of the new supermarkets. The high density areas are alive with markets and people and bicycles. Is this the story?

I stayed in Luwawa, where there is a huge pine plantation (planted to feed for a paper mill but abandoned) and problems with bush fires and illegal logging, but a small international organisation is planting seedlings to restore the indigenous forest. Is this the story?

I went to the Nyika Plateau, in the north of the country, travelling 140km on dirt tracks in the rainy season. I saw eland and zebra and kites and snakes. And the leopard roared outside my chalet door when I tried to settle to sleep. Is this the story?

Or maybe a conversation I overheard is the story:
Everlasting, to his friend, 'Do you know the head man of that village?'
Friend, 'No, I don't know him.'
Everlasting, 'You must know him. His wife was eaten by the lions ...'

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