Monday, May 22, 2006

In the bleak midwinter...

It’s very, very cold here at the moment. For the last three days, everyone’s been wandering around in woolly hats and scarves. I’m currently wearing my coat and scarf in the office, and I would wear my gloves if it didn’t impinge on my typing. It’s down to -2 at night, and it’s even colder in my flat, with its ceramic tiles, poorly insulated windows, and inch high gap under the back door. I bumped into Uncle Janni stoking the braai yesterday, who just laughed at my clothes and said “Ja, your flat is very, very cold, you know”, before scurrying back into his centrally heated, carpeted abode next door. I’m lucky to have such a caring landlord.

I went out on Saturday for some much needed retail therapy (there’s nothing like spending a lot of money on Stuff to make you feel like a strong, independent woman), and suddenly noticed that all the trees have lost their foliage. Everything looks wintry. Even the fig tree in the garden, the figs from which I have been waiting forever to surreptitiously harvest while Mrs Uncle Janni is not looking, has suddenly become bare of fruit and leaf. I don’t know where the figs went. Maybe Boris ate them, hence the recurrent vomit-fest that he currently undertakes nightly outside my back door. I feel cheated.

There has been no interim season. It’s simply gone from rainy to winter. There were no drifts of golden leaves to kick through, no whirling autumnal flurries as the last vestiges of greenery gave up the ghost. It’s as if I blinked and missed an entire season.

Bearing this extreme cold in mind, I went to two outdoor showings of films at the amphitheatre in Zoo Park on Saturday night, as part of the International Film Festival, Windhoek’s one annual attempt to pretend it’s not a cultural desert. I nearly froze to death, even under six layers of (brand new) winter clothing. Almost everyone turned up with blankets and sleeping bags. The gluhwein and hot pea soup ran out. We sat beneath the stars as the arctic breeze whispered through the palm trees. Everyone was speaking German*.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m in Africa at all.
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