Kwaheri Mafia

Wednesday 10th February 2016 : Any moment now our tuktuk will arrive and we’ll be leaving Mafia for the foreseeable future. I’m very sad to say goodbye, even though the circumstances in which we arrived were so heart breaking.
Chaps and I found it hard to believe, last evening, that it was a week since we dragged our sorry carcasses out of the sea. While we’ve been trying to recover, both physically and mentally, we have been busy in a weird way too, especially Chaps. We spent an astounding amount of time in the police station, reiterating our story too many times. I think it was the most exciting thing to have happened to the Mafia CID in a while. They are very kind and helpful but the fact we needed water, food and rest seemed to escape them. Generally it was me losing tolerance and pulling mzungu rank that got us out and into a cafe. They worry inordinately about upsetting mzungus.
It might interest you to know that mzungu doesn’t mean white person but is derived from a word relating to an outside force that comes in and changes things. I find it both appropriate and telling. It’s certainly apparent in Mafia that they still live a very traditional life and don’t really want much change. They are happy and healthy, loving and just wonderful people.
Ali’s body came ashore on Wednesday afternoon. Chaps joined the other men at the mosque, preparing him for burial and laying him to rest on the farm by Samira’s house outside town. The women aren’t allowed to be involved, which I found hard. Poor Chaps looked shattered when he finally got home late that night and needed lots of tlc from us. We have become very close, hardly a surprise given what we’ve endured together. My swahili kaka (brother).
We also spent a lot of time going village to village telling them to look out for Ibis or our gear being washed up. Chaps and Samira seem hopeful that will happen but Omar and I are more pessimistic. Ibis is old fiberglass and I think will stay sunk. Still, you never know.
We also bought five Mbuzi (goats) to give to the villages to slaughter and make a communal meal, to pray for Ali. Chaps and Ali had talked about doing this as we tried to stay positive in the water overnight. Chaps was determined to make it happen. Delivering them was fun. The kids played drums, sang and danced for us. Adorable. And talented.
I’m taking longer to come right than Chaps, to his satisfaction and my intense annoyance!! Physical wounds are healing but my usual stress response of sore throat and inflamed lymph nodes is in full force. Coupled with an extremely blistered and painful mouth and lips, I’m not altogether a happy camper yet. The rest of my face has peeled and is no longer red and black though. Chris Porter would have had a fit!
As all we had was on my back, Chaps and I are living in borrowed clothes. I’ve forgotten what underwear is and the loose colourful Muslim clothes are growing on me. Samira has been so generous. Chaps told me he thought I’d been so respectful of their culture, which is nice, coz I’ve tried to be. The only thing I said I must have was toilet paper. I couldn’t cope with the alternative. It upset my theatre nurses hand washing obsessive sensibilities too much!!
We’ve spent most of the week at Wayne and Samira’s place called Bweni Beach Camp. It’s a beautiful spot where the waves make music and leave gifts on the beach. I have some amazing shells to take home. It’s good spirit food for washed up sailors. As I write this I find I can think about Ali without wanting to ball my eyes out. Chaps has made me promise not to cry. He says he can’t bear it, so I’m trying harder. I warned him, after Ali died, while we were still swimming, that I was good in a crisis but would very emotional after!! So here we are.
Goodbye Mafia, I’ll be back!!

One thought on “Kwaheri Mafia

  1. Good to know that you are safe Sass! Sorry for your loss! I’ve been extreemly worried about you, as I have been having nightmares in which you are involved – Very Spooky!! I even called Matt to see if you had been in touch! He said you were OK. I’ll keep in touch with Matt, and do hope that things improve for you and your friends.
    Love and Hugs


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