Evenings in Ngukurr are warm and feel comfortable on your skin after the hot dry day, I like just sitting outside and feeling the night.. I had a really lovely day today wandering around the community, N and I were going to do some work , but she wasn't feeling well so we sat in the shade with the breeze and she told me some stories. Nice peaceful ones. Her voice went on uninterupted except by dogs barking and babies crying occassionally.
As I was walking home RM was trying to undo her gate ( she couldnt go through the main gate because her son-in-law was working near there). We went for a short walk ( she is very old) and she told me even older stories. I always feel pleased when she remembers who I am because her eyesight isn't good, but I have been here off an on for 6 or 7 months now. She told me about missionary times here and how she couldnt speak Kriol then, only language.
We had to stop every few feet for her to catch her breath. I felt so humbled to be her object of attention... she would laugh with almost alarming spontanaiety, a joyful laugh and hold onto my arm while she caught her breath. We stopped at H camp and sat on the gound blanket while H's children and grandchildren came and went. She brought me out a piece of turkey meat on a plastic lid, it was delicious ( I knew it would be), I am never sure of the protocol for sharing food, so when I had tasted it I gave it back and H was very pleased.
we talked about language words that were in Kriol and their meanings, H was so affectionate to me, sitting in the breeze listening to them talk I had one of those moments ( less and less rare moments I must say), of complete peace. I felt comfortable with every aspect of the situation.
Days like this I dont feel alone here because of the experience of being surrounded by friends. But then again I have been here long enough to know that each moment like this is at least equally weighted with moments of extreme exasperation, frustration, exhaustion and the occasional despairing moment, like the other day at the liquor commision meeting . It is an emotional rollercoaster .
Living in another different culture is like that I think, not visiting it, but living in it. Making it your home, with friends and work and a safe space. It is hard work, satisfying work, and I am glad to be doing it.