It is cozy here in the back room of the Village Café. Somewhere in the background Hank Williams is so lonely he could die. Outside the window, in the small courtyard, someone’s tongue is flicking through an astonishing array of ancient clicks. Leather strips dance in the doorways, in trance-like fashion, trying to catch one or more of the broken dreams that drift through, suspended on the gentle breeze.
Outside, the mist enfolds the daily routine of those going about their daily business of finding parking, getting to meetings, queuing at the bank, waiting for transactions to go through and waving at friends and acquaintances.
I like this place. It allows me to think and to drift.
It took me ten astonishing days and much dust to get here.
Yet in some ways, it took a life-time.
I loved and fought. Pitched a tent – twice. Slept in protected luxury and comfort, and exposed among predators.
Watched a town revive itself amidst great adversary, and another strangle itself with great despondency.
I stood under an isolated, gigantic baobab tree and shared a few minutes of its 1,000-year-old life.
Felt like swimming with 40 elephants and sharing a day-long dead pigeon with a lone leopard.
Thought about arm wrestling with a rambunctious rhino for no reward other than insight and perspective.
I watched lions fight for the right to mate, and mate for the right to fight.
I stared into a bottomless lake and drank from an empty bottle. And having too much and not having enough became the same pathology for me.
I stared at pelican’s taking off against the wind, over the ocean, and flamingo’s doing their side-ways shuffle for food.
In the shade of an expensive restaurant I watched a homeless man poke a seal with an aluminum rod and a seagull dropping a mussel into the ocean. We all have to eat, don’t we?
I ate too much and too little. Steak with too much sinew, and sushi made without respect.
Stared at a pretentious menu drafted by a confused chef. Discovered that the chili-and-chocolate sauce has no chili and was straight from a plastic bottle. The kind commonly used to trick children with.
And as I sit here in the café, writing this, I feel privileged. Bobby McFerrin sings “Don’t worry … be happy”, and I … well I think I’ll have another coffee. And later I might just go to the old shipwreck and just stare into the mist. After all, I have just lived a lifetime. It is time to calibrate the mind and the spirit.
Just before the journey, I got some fresh yellowtail from my friends at Fishmonger. I also had some green peppercorns all the way from Madagascar. Here’s my version of grilled yellowtail with a green peppercorn sauce.