I have some very vivid memories of life at Pakati…some of the teacher profiles further down in this blog hint at life there 30 years ago. For me it was all new to begin with, but as I got used to the area I explored more & more.
I lived up to my name – Walker – more than at any other time of my life. To get to the bus stops took between 25 & 30 minutes, to get to the nearset store took 40 minutes. To walk to Musami between 1 hour 20 & 2 hours depending on how high the river was. I walked a lot back then!
I wrote & recieved letters from home & friends as regularly as possible, turn around was about 2 weeks. My brother subscribed to the Guardian Weekly for me. I had a radio & cassette player & a torch. I had a solar powered battery charger. I explained in letters about how little water you need for showering when you have to hand-pump it & carry it 50 metres yourself…but with the (shared) house provided, no electricity & no running water meant no bills! Got to take a positive view.
I shared a house with two Zimbabwean teachers & we took turns in cooking, relying mostly on localy produced food & tinned goods. Fresh produce like eggs, chickens & vegetables were brought to the teachers to buy, from local farmers like Mr Masawi, an old friend of mine who I met again recently.
One thing I remember early on, I had been there a few weeks so thought I was used to it all. It got cloudy & very dark as the rain was about to fall. I quickly walked to the classroom I was due to teach in, and the instinct of reaching for a light switch took over without thinking….the students looked at me as if to say ‘what is he doing’? No electricity, no light switch….