Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's a very different continent

"For until you actually saw it and traveled across it on foot or on horseback or in a wagon, you could not possibly grasp the enormous vastness of Africa. It seemed to go on and on forever." -Elspeth Huxley, The Flame Trees of Thika.

Although I have only been to a very, very small part of the African continent and even much less of that on foot or horseback, I sense what the author wrote about. It's the immensity of the landscape magnified by its differentness. Here in the environs of southern coastal Tanzania there are grey baobabs, with trunks as large as a California sequoia. Flame trees ablaze with brilliant red-orange blossoms. Termite mounds taller than a person. Thorn bushes prickly with two-inch long spikes. Huge millipedes as big as snakes. Swarms of ants that come right into the house. And the constant, intense heat. The heat flows out of the ground, envelops your body, and leaves you shiny with sweat. It doesn't feel like North America anymore, Toto. -Earl

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