Smoothies at Lake Malawi
Smoothies at Lake Malawi
Chapter 1 Dust Clouds
Dust clouds, thick like those of a storm but brown in colour, assault a window I'm looking out of. I can't see a thing outside. An infinite number of tiny dust particles somehow seep through the closed window and float in the air. I smell and taste the dust's floury texture. The childishness in me tempts my fingers to write graffiti in the dust coating on the inside of the window.
My mind tries to recognise where I am. On a particularly bumpy ride! I must be on a journey somewhere, a very rough journey. I seem to be sitting on a bus seat, one of many bolted to the floor inside a metal cabin. But the revving noise suggests a truck rather than a bus.
Backpacks and sleeping bags precariously hang out of the rack mounted around the sides of the cabin's roof. The truck hits an unexpected, large pothole. It jolts and roughly throws me up and down in my seat. My hands grip the seat bar in front of me. Hitting my head on the roof would hurt as well as bring me back to consciousness. Obviously, I'm not wearing a seat belt. A couple sleeping bags dislodge from the rack and bounce down into the walkway between the seats, joining half empty water bottles, discarded clothing, boots and playing cards. One sleeping bag unfortunately hits a hazy figure of another person. Fortunately, it wasn't a heavy backpack. One of those dropping on somebody's head would give them severe concussion.
About fifteen people are accompanying me on this journey to nowhere. Their physical forms appear ghostly to me. Their bodies are sprawled across seats in various states of relaxation or discomfit. Some have grabbed whole seats for themselves and have stretched their legs out. Others are sharing their seats and probably are suffering leg, bottom and back cramps. Some have 'green' faces partially hidden behind sunglasses, trying to lessen the after effects of their hangovers. Others wear healthy brown glows. I don't know if their glowing skins originated from the sun or from dirt. Everybody's shorts and t-shirts are grubby. T-shirts once white are the same colour as the dust permeating the air. I don't know any of my companions.
I can't remember how I ended up on this truck and haven't any idea where on the planet it's travelling to. I don't belong in this scene! This girl lives in the world of five star hotels where everything is luxurious and pristine. In this world, not a speck of dust is to be seen, being either wiped away or filtered out by an air conditioning system. Polite, uniformed drivers, in private, comfortable limousines, ferry me wherever I wish to go. Moreover, it's so long since I've worn shorts that I'd need to buy a pair. Being constantly covered in pantyhose or jeans, my legs have forgotten how good the sun's warmth feels.
The dust particles irritate my eyes and nose. My eyes water and my nose drips. My sniffling transports me from the truck cabin scene into a bed in a five star hotel. Half asleep, I reach for a tissue then a glass of water to soothe my dry mouth. I'm sniffling because the hotel room is too cold and am thirsty because the air is artificially dry. As usual, the air conditioner's thermostat has been set to freezing. I had forgotten to adjust it before going to sleep. There's only one blanket on the bed. The housekeeper 'stole' the bedspread when 'turning down' the bed. Stupid me neglected to hang the 'Do not disturb' sign on the door when going to the restaurant for dinner. I regularly wake up covered in 'goose bumps' and am unable to return to sleep.
I regard myself as a champion 'bed hopper', having hopped my way into and out of beds all around the world. I've slept in more beds than anybody I know, sharing those beds with literally hundreds of other people. However, those people haven't been in the beds at the same time as me. In reality, being awake in a half empty bed in a foreign place is a lonely place to be.