06 June, 2016

Part Two: Open Market & A Hike to the Falls

Part Two:
Open Market & A Hike to the Falls

When the sun comes up in Africa it does so with spunk. From stars and darkness, to a sort of gray and then suddenly whammo it’s up and light is everywhere. Macy got up and did her yoga. First thing every morning she does cat yoga. Sometimes she starts while she’s still in bed. Stretching till her hands and toes can almost touch the ends of the bed and then relaxing only to do it again. Every morning it’s the same thing. She does that 5 times then gets out of bed and starts her routine with ‘Downward Facing Cat’, followed by some ‘Caturangas’, and on and on for 20 minutes. It’s how she’s remained in such good shape for a cat of her years.

    Breakfast today was quite good when she came down the stairs. Amanda and Macy had decided to go to the market bright and early so Macy could go to the falls after they returned.
    “You know I was thinking about camping out at the falls tonight. Do you know of anyone who could guide me or…”
    “Know of anyone. Oh my dear lady. I’d do it if you’d let me” interrupted Cody. “I know of the best places to camp there. I’ve been doing it for the last 5 years. Exploring and camping and more importantly I know the safest way to do it. Sleeping out among the stars and nature is something that I’ve always loved. I’ve got all the necessary equipment. All you need is a change of cloths and I will get everything else ready.” he told her as he put his fork down. She could tell he was very excited because no one wanted to go with him into the wilds and sleep out under a blanket of stars.
    “Well, there it is. I’d be happy to sir; as soon as, breakfast is ready I will go and get a change of cloths. I’ve brought along a day pack, so I’ll put it in there.

With breakfast finished she went back up to her room gathered what little she thought she needed shoved it into her day pack and back down she went.
    “I’ll be going to the market first of course. A promise is a promise and I am very excited to be doing so, but we’ll be back before late morning.” she told her future traveling companion who nodded and went back to his own breakfast. She noticed approvingly that he was writing a list of gear to bring with on their overnight excursion. Amanda showed up wearing an almost floor length brown skirt and short sleeved starched white blouse. She was carrying a wicker basket with several bags inside it.
“I missed the market earlier this week,” she explained as she opened the door and the two walked into the morning air, “I have a lot to get today. I’m so glad for the help old friend.” The two lady-cats smiled at each other and walked down the road arm in arm as ladies of their generation do at times like these. The morning chill and dew still clung to the trees as weak morning sunlight fell on the road splashing everywhere and getting on everything. The smell of the morning in Africa isn’t something either of them will soon forget.
Macy had never seen such a thing as this. It made her feel so young again.They walked from the shadows of an alley into the bright sunlight and chaos that is an open market.  

    She had never seen such a mixed up jumble of things as this. While standing in one spot she could hear at least three different languages. People were everywhere how could such a smallish town have so many people. They must have come from miles around. Other towns and villages without their own market. The sun was already feeling very hot and the air was dry. Men and women walking up and down the street looking at the different wares the vendors had. Some had tents, some had open tables, some had blankets on the ground and everything from TV’s and radios to chickens, and vegetables were being sold this way. It must have been a block and half long and just as wide. She wasn’t going to loose her friend that’s for sure even if she did know the way back.
    “It’s just beyond what you’d imagine isn’t it Macy, so many people. If you go to buy something you must haggle. Watch me do it a few times before you try it, or I can do it for you. They will feel bad if you don’t. “
    Macy just said, “Ok.” because she had just spotted someone that looked familiar to her. “Hey Amanda. Who is that over there.” She pointed with her head so as to not draw attention to herself. “I swear I’ve seen him somewhere before.” she finished.   
    “Where? Oh him. You’ll want to stay away from him and his pals. They’re poachers. They’ve been hunting the black rhino to near extinction. Rumor has it they’ve come here because there is one family of them hiding in the area, and they want them too.” said Amanda with disgust.
    “It’s the horn isn’t it? I think I’ve read about this in one of the magazines I get. Is the family here? I’d love to meet them.” Macy asked but was just pulled away to finish their day of shopping. Macy found that she couldn’t just forget about the poachers and the Rhino’s. She needed to know who and where the family were. She wanted them to be safe. It must have been the mother instinct in her. The two of them bought all the groceries for the week, some gifts for Macy’s children and grandchildren, and a fancy new skirt for the end of the week party. On Friday night they always had a party and invited all the staff to come and of course the guests of the house too.
“Macy, I can’t wait for the Friday party.  I think I might have a surprise for you then.”
“Really?” Macy loved a surprise. “Okay, it’s a deal!”, she exclaimed with glee and hugged her old friend.  The two chatted as they walked back to the house, and by the time they got back to the house it was mid morning, and Macy had just enough time to put her things away wash her face and get ready for the hike.

Hiking & Camping

The day started off fine enough. They went to the open market, and Macy met several of her friends friends. She also learned about the poachers and the Black Rhino. Rumor had it there was a family in the area who hadn’t run, and were in hiding. It seemed the whole town wanted to help that poor family out. If indeed they were around. Now she was back at the house and getting ready for a new adventure with one of her new friends Cody the Bobcat from Montana. They were standing in the open area of the Bed and Breakfast getting ready for their hike.
    “Nonsense,” said Mama Macy “I can carry my own weight thank you very much.” She grabbed her bag and hitched it up on her shoulders in preparation for the their hike.
    “Yes, ma'am but there will be quite a bit of extra weight to it. We have to bring our own water for a couple of days.” he explained to her.
    “Be that as it may I will carry my half. I am fully capable of doing it you know.” She said with her hands on her hips and a determined look in her eyes.

    “Okay, okay.” he put his hands up in surrender, “I’m going to strap these water bottles to the back of your pack now. It may seem cumbersome at first but you will adjust and they will get lighter as we use the water up.” He walked around her and strapped two gallons of water to the backpacks frame. He tried to find places where it wouldn’t swing much as she walked. His own pack was about the same size as hers with 2 gallons swinging from it as well. They each had their own tent, cloths, food, water, a camp knife, and a walking stick. “When we stop for the night up by the falls we’ll be able to refresh our water for the trip home.” he said. “I think we’ll probably be back late tomorrow in time for supper I think. Don’t worry if we’re not though maybe we’re going to want another day at the falls. It’s really beautiful there.” he continued.
    “I was just about to say that same thing. Take your time at the falls if you want it might be worth it to hang out another day.” said Amanda.
    “Ok, if we’re ready. I’d like to get going before it gets to hot.” said Macy. The door opened they walked through and the door closed. They didn’t know it but before the end of this journey their lives would be forever changed. Off they went to visit the falls and see what adventures lay between here and there. “The falls”, said Cody, “is a lovely place and the rocks and water together make the shape of a Rhino’s head.”
    “It’s funny how nature works sometimes.” exclaimed Macy when she heard about the shape. “I’m really rather taken by the story and can’t wait to see it in person.” she continued.  In truth the water covered a giant cave which happens sometimes as the water pounds down on the rocks below. It can hollow out a spot behind the fall, and the water will act like curtains. If it’s been going on for a many years that spot can get rather large and long. Macy will be finding that out soon enough.
    It didn’t take long before they were out of view of the house and they slowed their pace down a pit. As they got further from the house the grass got taller and taller till they were walking through waist deep grasses. It’s a good thing they thought ahead and tucked their pants into their socks or they’d have all manner of bugs crawling up their legs.
    “Hey Macy how are you doing back there?” Cody called out
    “Just fine. What a lovely day for a walk through the tall grasses.”, she answered happily-sarcastic.
    “Well, the path isn’t all that far from here and then we’ll just follow it all the way to the falls. I wanted to cut through these grasses here because I thought you’d like to see them, and it’s a bit of a short cut. Well would you look at that? It looks like two other folks went through here earlier today. See how the grass is still pressed down where they walked.” he pointed it out to her.
“Yes, I see that, but why is that unusual?” asked Macy.
    “Well, it is and it isn’t. Most folks take the path over behind the trees. It takes longer but it’s safer. I brought you this way so we could maybe see lions. There’s a pride that sometimes suns themselves up ahead where the rocks rise above the grasses.”
    “Isn’t it possible these other people could be doing the same?” asked Macy.
    “Yes, sure. Still let’s keep our wits about us.” he said and Macy could see he was paying more attention than before which made a her a touch nervous. They continued on for half the day in the grasses and never saw anyone. When they finally did step out onto the path Macy was a bit disappointed, because he had mentioned lions and they hadn’t seen any.
    They can see now how the rocks rise above the grasses and are much closer than either had thought.  They’re both very  excited about it. Macy because she has never seen a waterfall that looks like a Rhino’s head before. The locals have known about it for generations and generations. Some say it’s where the all the Rhinos come from, but everyone knows that’s just an ‘old wives tale’ don’t they? From the right angle the granite rocks are suppose to look like the head of a Rhinoceros. The water falls 200 feet where it lands and creates a mist that feeds the ferns and vines which climb up the sides of the falls. The soft rock at bottom of the falls has been pushed by the pounding water and created a deep pool beneath the falls. From there it snakes out and continues flowing through the landscape eventually turning into the river which runs by Amanda’s B&B.
    “It does look like that,” said Macy as she pointed toward the distant falls. “I didn’t think it could be true or at least not like this. It looks just like it.”
    “I know it’s sort of spooky at first isn’t it?” responded Cody. “It’s a little weird sleeping there because it feels like it’s looking at you the whole time.” he continued. “We should be there in about an hour. How are you feeling? Do you think you need a little break?” he asked her.
    “Yes, actually I’d love to put this pack down and have some water and that apple we brought. How about you?” Macy loved apples and she got her answer when he plopped his pack down in a heap, grabbed two apples and tossed her one. They sat on a rock which had been warmed from the sun that day and ate in silence. From where they sat, they could hear the distant roar of the falls and the wind blowing across the ocean of grass, the waves of which were moving as if dancing in unison to some old folk song sung by the wind. Both had worked hard getting here and were feeling content and tired, thinking their own thoughts about what the night would bring. Macy was in awe of this place - everything was so interesting and new. Her new friends and the old one were very lucky to live here in this place. Cody was feeling excited too. He enjoyed showing off the things he loved about Africa to folks. The Africa he knew - the one with all sorts of lovely animals and places to explore - the Africa which had so many kind and lovely folks in it had been changing since he’d been here. There were fewer animals and more greed and loneliness. The people who were once so kind and inviting were now becoming paranoid around strangers and closing themselves off. Africa was changing.
    “Penny for your thoughts Cody.” Mama Macy was very observant and noticed when his thoughts had begun to change. “What are you thinking about? I saw as your face got darker with your thoughts.”   
    “Oh, I didn’t realize. Well, I’ll tell you Macy. Africa is changing, and I’m sure glad that you have been able to see it before to long.” He told her what he’d been thinking. How when he first arrived scared and more than a little lonely. People had taken him in and shown him around. How with a little courage he’d been able to see wondrous things, and animals of all sorts that he’d never seen before. He told her how people had been changing getting more paranoid and how the animals were being hunted to extinction. He told her about the Black Rhino and how this family that everyone was talking about being in hiding somewhere near might be that last of their kind. He spoke as they put their packs back on and continued for the rest of the way to the campsite at the foot of the falls. He must have needed to open up to someone because he did just that as they pitched their camp he was still letting it all out. Macy was always a great listener and just listened the whole time. She did learn a lot about this man Cody. She learned that he was concerned with the Rhino family and wanted to help them out.

Pitching a tent can be as easy or hard as you make it. Luckily enough for our friends they were both experienced at this and had them up in no time. Two old style canvas tents facing each other with a fire in between them. They even had wood for a fire gathered and were getting their supper ready in no time flat.
    “Dehydrated beans, rice, some veggies and funny looking tortilla’s. Looks like it’s a Mexican/taco night huh Cody?” she said more than asked the question.
    “Yes, Ma’am! Except those aren’t tortilla’s they’re similar though. It’s called Injera. It’s sort of a sourdough flatbread. I learned how to make it in Eritrea. Try some just tear off a piece.”
“Oh that’s really good.” said Macy “It tastes like ‘Friendship Bread’. Before they knew it supper was finished and with the little time they had left in the day they explored the falls.  They were camped about 25 yards from the river where they had found an opening in the trees. From their camp they could see the water from the falls. Macy was to close now to make out it’s shape but she could see it falling from the top. “It’s so beautiful. If I lived on this continent I’d make my home out here somewhere.” she exclaimed.
“So would everyone else and that’s why you can only camp here. It’s protected land, and no hunting out here at all. It’s to protect the wildlife and keep the special area special.” Cody explained as he gazed at the top of the falls through the binoculars.
The bird songs were everywhere and she didn’t recognize any of them. Different tree’s different plants, different birds it was so exciting to be in a place where she could learn so many new things. Isn’t that just part of the joy of living though? You can learn about different animals, or you can learn about Geology, or Biology. You can learn how to make chili, or cake, or a bird house. It’s all so much fun.
They wandered closer to the falls from the shore they could get right up the rock wall and see behind the water. It was very loud, and Macy could make out a slight indentation behind the wall.
    “It looks like a cave’s back behind the water. Let's go see I’ve got my flashlight.” she shouted above the roar of the water, and before he could say no she had started back behind the water never knowing what she would find, or what would find her.
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