Sunday, 21 April 2013

There is something about a river...

...two minutes under the tarpaulin and we realised that this was not the place to sit on a 40C+ day in southern Chad, what little breeze there was just was not man enough to penetrate the brick wall! So about 30 of us, all men from (Entente des Eglises et Mission Evangelique au Tchad) all decamped as one, to the cool of a gloriously shady mango tree, interestingly where the women where already sitting on their reed mats. This ancient umbrella was heavy with delicious fruit but sadly they were  still a week or two away from cropping. I sat listened to the conversation's in a language I just did not understand and then I heard it... at first almost imperceptible like a sigh on the wind and then oh so clear, the call, it was a clear unmistakable call from the river just a stones throw from where I sat. Slipping quietly from my seat I answered the call.

The cool river breeze was a delight, carrying the fragrances of life, a hint of smoke, a taste of gras and whiff of dust. There is really nothing like a river, even more so in a land locked nation, it is a place of remarkably diverse activity, just about all the activities of home carry on either by or on the river. I recently re-read Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame published some 105 years, and Ratty whilst chatting with Mole about his beloved river made this unforgettable quote "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -  absolutely  nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." and all those in their canoes today looked like they were having fun. 
E.H. Shepherd  gave the words even more life, with his wonderful water colours. 

                                      Mole and Ratty

... down by the river, near Lai, I was amazed at just how busy the river was, people washing dishes, fishing, playing in the water, cleaning their clothes, washing their hair, taking time for a medative 'loo' stop or just to watch the world go by... It was a place for the old and discarded to rust or rot quietly away or perhaps bide it's time till it was whisked away by the rising waters when the rains come, as soon they must.

Sadly this old timer's cross river days have come to an end.

This Chinese hurricane lamp is unlikely to light the way of a weary travellers journey home from the river