Barefoot beach-run blog:
“What a lot of one-legged swimmers there must be in the sea” – the absurd thought, breaks from my subconscious, nearly making me stumble as it clatters against the wall of my conscious mind.
“How are YOOOOOOOU?” – filters through the flotsam that lines the shore as a pick my way through the soft sand and washed up trainers that ribbon the high-tide mark at sundown.
I’m the only Mazungu (white guy) mad enough to be out running in the late afternoon sun, along the beach North of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
“How are YOOOOU?” – the greeting comes again – I haven’t the breath to answer. (I’m running in nearly 30 degrees, when all said and done) but I manage a wave and broad, if slightly manic, grin!
I have started the year in somber mood… musing over ‘lack’ – of time, clients, clients who pay (on time), parents, siblings (having lost them all in recent years).
Then I shoe-horn myself into running shorts and scamper along the sand, as the heat drops to 27 degrees and the sun burns golden across the Indian Ocean.
Along the beach, just above the crashing surf is “the Perfect Spot” café, where the fishermen gather to broaden their smiles over a beer, while the children tumble from shanty-shacks to play on the sand. Chinese sewn football strips declare allegiance to Manchester United, Arsenal and the Messi kit of Barcelona.
When they see me their looks, at first, are confused, defensive. But the smiles will not be held-back. I trust the laughter is of kinship, not directed at my knock-kneed stride, reddening face and aged shorts.
The golden hour is as wonderful here as I have seen it elsewhere on this ocean. The working day is done, the trials of hauling nets, taking in laundry, learning in school, forgotten. There is nothing to be done now (right now) but play.
As I pick my barefoot way through washed-up coconut fronds, between the fleet of beached, bleached dug-out dhows and the toe-nail borrowing ‘jiggers’ who live in the tide-line, my shoulders drop.
Once again I am shown the wisdom of Africa – all we have is golden time, all we have is now, all we have is all we have – why waste a moment in wishing it otherwise. Just Smile!