Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Burning has begun...

Living 15 degrees south of the equator basically means we have two seasons. Hot and wet, and hot and dry. Zambia is technically in the tropics zone, but the only thing I have experienced that would attest to that are the massive and insanely ugly bugs.

We had rain until the end of March, and since then we have had only one rainy-ish day, on Mother's day. Being a to-the-core Rochestarian, it felt like home and I thanked God for my gift from him!

But no real rain for the last two months makes things around here dry. Really dry. If you live in the southern United States this is nothing new to you. But for this Yankee I may never get used to this sight.
Driving here at night is one of the most nerve wracking experiences I have ever had the pleasure to endure. And I have taught five children to tie their shoes. And read. And drive. This easily tops them all. 

People are walking everywhere. There aren't street lights. Most vehicles have lights, and some actually turn them on. There aren't shoulders on the road. There are 8 to ten inch drop-offs on the edge of the road where the asphalt meets the dirt. 

Which is about 5 inches from the tall elephant grasses that cover every acre of undeveloped land here. Those grasses are dry. Really, Really dry. And the sun is hot. And snakes like tall grass and hot sun. And a lot of other things like tall grass and hot sun, but most of them aren't things people like to hang out with. 
So... They burn the fields. Usually the only evidence I experience of this happening is the regular smell of smoke in the air. I feel like I live in a state park where everyone is cooking over an open flame. All the time. Every day. And they use plastic Wegmans bags to light the fire. 

But every once in a while I get to see it happening. There is a sudden panic that comes over me when driving at night and I see flames climbing into the dark sky. 

Shortly after we moved here I remember looking up at the huge mountain behind our house and seeing the whole side of the mountain in flames. It looked like rivers of fire flowing down the sides. It was beautiful. And a little scary! 

This picture is a little girl about 10 years old just walking along the edge of the burning field. 
I get that they "know what they are doing". It tends to be like a big party with people walking right along the edge of the flames. Sometimes they even have a small shovel. I suppose that will be a help should the flames get out of control? I've been to bonfires and believe me, this is way hotter than any bonfire! 
She was kind of doing a little dance and watching the flames eat the grass. Seeing the orange blaze into the black sky. 
She would stop and watch the grasses disappear, I am sure quite intensely feeling the heat of the inferno. Standing way too close in this mothers opinion! 
But this is life. This happens every year about this time. And it will continue until sometime in November when the rains begin again and nourish the parched land and the dead and burned grasses are resurrected. 

But until then.... 

No rains... fires will blaze. 
And they know what they're doing right?? Until an electrical pole gets in the path of the fire and whoosh! Up the pole it climbs! 
To say they do things a little differently around here is an understatement. 

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