Mom please don’t read this one.
One of the things I am still trying to get used to is how nice people here are. For example even if we are just walking along the main road to get to work or the grocery store multiple people will pull over and ask if we need a ride. This makes for great hitch hiking experiences but also something that if happened back home would leave one super suspicious as it is instilled in us at a young age “don’t take candy from a stranger”. My experiences up to date could only be described as sketchy at best.
A random guy Loreinti…or something meaning, “just do it”. Met Lyndsay the other day and had been calling and texting her. We agreed to meet up with him, as he wanted to show us around town and meet some of his friends. As the actual town is rather small I assumed we would just be walking, but he showed up with his truck which was a sort of make shift safari car with a bench strapped down in the truck bed. Lyndsay was like okay lets go, so I followed her, hopping into the front seat. By now I am used to the bouncing and sounds of the cars here but as we drove out onto the highway then turning on to a dirt path by an abandoned cement construction site my stomach started to turn and head spin. It looked like the perfect place for a filming of CSI or a horror film. I started going though the whole OMG evaluation process. Asking myself why as a foreigner, as a white person, as a girl, why would I put myself in this situation? Hopping into a sketch truck with a guy I don’t know anything about. Along the ride learning he was unemployed in addition to noticing that the door handles were broken off and could therefore only be opened from the outside. It was just such a terrible feeling of what the fuck are you doing? For the rest of the time I was super tense, clutching my bag, fully guarded. Thinking of emergency plans and looking out the window for the fastest route to run back to the main road. Everything turned out fine. We got out of the truck and trudged through the bush in my flip-flops, sinking into mud, walking through various pokies and ankle deep sand. As he held branches covered in thorns out of the way for us. When asking if this was safe, Just Do It informed us that “the jungle is unpredictable and so you must always listen to it.” Eventually we came to a bunch of flat rocks by the river with a beautiful view. I was so relieved that the other people there were not his friends but a group of Christian monks. Dressed head to toe in green satin robes crosses on the back. They were performing some kind of ritual, gathered around one man who was being cleansed. He was covered with sand and herbs and then rinsed in the river as they sang and chanted.
The next place Just Do It took us was a more open plane and popular hangout for bonfires and fishing. The wetland had started to dry up (as it is the dry season right now). It was so cool because in the mud that had partly hardened you could see all of the animal tracks. There wasn’t any ground that was not patterned with bird feet and then the crater like prints of elephants, hoof marks from herd of passing buffalo. We even saw some hippo tracks and learned the difference between lion, jackal and cheetah prints. What little water remains as the surrounding land turns to dusty white sand is a natural hot spring! We are slightly to early in the season, but in a few weeks will be able to go swimming there! Lyndsay and I sat in the sand taking a few pictures and trying to identify the surrounding birds. Myself trying to relax a little bit while Just Do It went back to the truck to smoke up.
To our dismay he needed to pick something up from a friend in Kazengulo (the opposite direction) before taking us back. When we pulled up to his friends house (that was completely remote) we had to first pass under a hanging black sheet into the yard. The terrible feeling quickly returned. A bunch of guys were sitting around outside on a broken couch and different scattered objects. We sat with them and chatted, hesitantly giving them our numbers as they all smoked up as well. At this point it was very clear that we were here to check on the “business” with what Just Do It called his “clan of younger brothers”. Making plans to meet at a bonfire later, I was so relieved as we got back on the highway heading towards home as Just Do It lit up again.
Oh so my group of friends here consists of guys (who if judged on appearance I would be scared shitless of back home) and they all basically smoke up 24/7 or “become elevated” as they call it… everything I do here I can only describe as sketchy at best.