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A Dinka Start to the Day

April 1, 2011

dinka_1_290.jpgI woke from a lucid dream of trying to fit level guttering on curved Dr Suess houses – and laughed. I had spent yesterday putting guttering on a building that had some “level challenges”. There is a hint of blue sky and the breeze is down a little but it is decidedly cool. Armed only with shorts and T-shirt I am hard pressed to stop shivering in the pre dawn light. I am parked down near the Nile which is a noisy river I have decided. The rafts of vegetation slide past at a steady 3-4 knots but the waves make a steady sloshing sound as the water is pushed around by the breeze.

Any number of birds are helping themselves to the ponds around the bank. The yellow faced egret, the twitchy ones that scatter if you so much look at them. A stately white heron which stands perfectly still over his patch of water and ignores you until quite close then calmly moves 25 metres away and starts over. Serene is his middle name. A brown version him hangs around too but is a far less composed fellow. The waders are complemented by a smaller plover of sorts, well camouflaged and easily missed except they can’t stop moving.

A lanky fellow appears along the track behind me. He diverts his path, comes over and offers his hand with a big smile. We slide hands and fingers and he then places his hand over his heart and murmurs something. I mimic the gesture, remembering in enough time it is a valued custom in these parts. I like it. He waves at the river and I nod and wave at it as well and tell him I am having a chilly but inspired start to the day. He smiles past his yellow teeth and the reed he is chewing and murmurs something else, waves and heads back to the track, twirling his swagger stick and clearly enjoying the morning air as much as I am .

The sun appears as the usual bright disc through the dust and as it climbs I can feel the first touches of warmth. A hippo is grumbling on the other bank. I heard a mighty splash earlier so figure he is not too far away. I head back to the Dinka guest compound where Russell and I decide we don’t need breakfast. A muesli bar will suffice. In any event I am carrying enough rice in me from every meal over the last few days to keep a Japanese Army on the march for a month. We get ready to attend a Dinka church service. Getting so prepared involving blowing dust off your shirt and, well not much else actually. Drums are beating away in the bush and we head towards the local equivalent of the village church bells.  

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