Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ngukurr again (letter to friends and family)


These last couple of weeks we have been up in the NT, in Ngukurr. We
flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then drove one long hot day
all the way to Ngukurr, about 1200kms right though the belly of
Australia, and then took a right -and here we are nearly at the coast.

It has been really hot the last week or so, probably up around 40
degrees everyday, and humid in a way that you can feel your energy
soaking away, every movement breaks a sweat, a great thrumming
sauna... it makes you appreciate airconditioning and iced coffee like
never before.

It is great to be back in Ngukurr, to see people again. We went to the
cemetary and I saw the resting place of a very good friend, as well as
some other people I knew well. It was hard, standing in the hot red
sand, little plastic flowers sticking out of a mound of earth, a
couple of small children playing in the dust, drinking soda from a
can. It was hard because for nearly a year I had imagined reaching
this place and then believing that she was really gone, not just away
visiting or at home sick- there buried under that earth. But somehow I
stil couldnt... maybe it is best not to imagine someone you love's
body buried beneath all that earth.

It surprises me how hard it is to really believe in death even through
experience. I cried a bit to myself and the hot wind and red dust
blew my tears away. We picked up the children playing in the ground
and waved good bye to everyone resting at the ceremony in a cheery
kind of way and went back around in all our little circles of life.

It is hard because she was such a
central part both of our lives here at the language centre, but also
the heart and feeling of what was important.
On our way up to Ngukurr we drove past the Devil's Marbles, big round
red rocks that sit in the desert, this old woman was a Traditional
Owner of this part of Australia-
Maybe it feels the lack too,
Maybe it misses her too.

With a team of many we are teaching at the local school, 5 different
languages, we create one unit and then do it for a whole term- the
kids really seem to be learning, and certainly the community language
teachers are learning more too, about their languages- computers-
spelling- you name it.

There is an ethnobotanist ( someone who studies how different cultures
taxonomise plants and animals) coming to visit next week, we have been
working hard to get all the information together - what we have on the
languages of the region- most of it is archived,as there are very few
speakers left of these languages- when you see the volume of knowledge
in the languages you feel sad that they are not spoken any more.

A few days ago some big trucks roared in- dug up the road, and then
left. So now we have a huge mound of red earth and rocks for a road( I
am assuming they will replace it at some point!), in the evenings,
like now, it draws all the little kids out ( tens of them) to play,
they bring strollers and other small toys and bikes and spend hours
lost in games. I like listening to them, and feel pleased this
inconvenience to some is of great fun to others.

The other day a huge lightning storm gathering, red dust and the sun
setting made the sky look surreal,and great gusts of wind tore across
the community shaking the trees- loud thunder broke and then everyone
stepped outin wonder, hands outstretched as rain fell, lovely and cool
and fresh breaking the heat, and opening the heart.

It has been a bit cooler since then.


Blogger bulanjdjan said...

You write so, so beautifully, Sophie. Bobala jet olgamen.

11:26 am  

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