In Africa: The View
January 28, 2009
by Suzan Abrams
Earlier Entry: The Window.
Last evening, I rushed to the bay window of my hotel room, like a child at Christmas. The loud trombone groan of the Catamaran called out sternly to warn off a small but brave fishing boat. How it bellowed up a roar! It could have been a case of a stubborn David with Goliath but for the naive Dar fisherman and his ancient wooden companion. Armed with its striking flourescent red light as an only weapon, the fisherman cared none for the Catamaran's snobbish rumble and with a lone oar, beat a hasty retreat.
A passing dhow shrugged at this mad truancy.
Here the super-speed ferry was returning with the usual blustery pomp from the Zanzibar. Soon it would retire for the night anchored at the harbour, along with other rackety ferries devoid of their makeup and lost in snores and yawns. Clearly, the spanking white Catamaran was queen of the Waterfront. It would be lulled by the sounds of a soft rain as it rested amid the wind. It was dusk after all and the waters had trembled madly under the ferry's bulky cellulite weight, in an earlier teary bid to float regally to attention.
Bold ripples made the coast look like a parade of wrinkly ladies, their skin creamed with a buttered sheen. Not that the army of birds which rested on the nearby palm trees cared as much for this vanity. Intent on a last supper, the greedy swallows black in the darkening twilight would polka-dot the brim of the ocean like the latest design of smooth slippery fabric sashaying up the Parisian catwalk.
Together they waltzed; the amorous birds dipping kisses into the shy pale sea.
In the middle of the waters, sat an old dame of a forgotten homeless barge, still panting and puffing her way to an unknown destination from three days ago. She twirled and swayed on her last rusty hinges, this way and that, almost as if she would lift first a weathered knee, then a broken toe, then a stiff ankle and so be it.
Was there a hospice at sea? She would find it!
Occassionally, the other boats would extend a courtesy call by sailing carefully around her, then dashing past afraid that she would attempt a watery hitchhike and steal their catch.
Only last night in the heavy rain, the coast wore a mist of tears, hiding its strange blue face. The storm clouds watched anxiously but decided they would gatecrash anyway.
Today, the happier emerald waters of the Indian Ocean play their carefree game of sink-n-swim. I wonder if deep in their bottom hearts, there lay still the wreckage of a treasure chest from the days of when Tanzania first sheltered its famous slave towns