The Hill We Watched

January 21, 2011 § 4 Comments

We have watched Mena Hill from our house ever since we arrived here. Wondered how big it was, always confused, sometimes looking huge and looming and other times small and meek. A trick of perceptions leaving us curious. We watched it through clear blue sky at dawn and dusty dusky hues in the evening. We watched it burn red and hot strips of flame, the crackling clearly audible through the still air.

We waited for a cool moment to climb.

One hazy afternoon we go with our friend AKK, leaving our front door and traipsing down the road with clouds of dust rising around our feet. We pick our way along a path leading us through Cassava plantations and past a slow stream with women beating their washing against the rocks. We start our ascent on crumbling slopes dotted with more Cassava and eventually through thick tall and heavy grass.

As we climb, AKK tells us of the name ‘Mena’, and how all landforms in Sierra Leone are named after spirits. “African mythology is filled with spirits, invisible beings with powers for good or evil… Many spirits are associated with physical features such as mountains, rivers, wells, trees, and springs.”(I find this information here later).

At the top, looming boulders on a charred peak meet us. At our feet, a tiny landscape of coral burnt grass stumps. I sit on a rock with AKK and we watch Makeni through the dust. We talk of generosity and acts of kindness.

The definitions I have built around myself begin to crumble and I become beautifully aware of how the exact end of my body has no start or finish it just washes into the rest of the world. All the creatures and the whole universe and me, we are all the same.

I remember sadly the riches of Australia where everyone hoards their wealth behind their private locked doors.

My experience in Sierra Leone, if you have something you share it with someone who doesn’t. And when you have nothing, someone will give you what you need.

There lies the memory that we are one and the same.

It is the same lesson I learn in all developing countries I visit.

The conversation leaves my heart gentle. It is so simple to be kind.

We descend with the red round sun behind us, wild fires charging a distant ridge.

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