We had a day off for the end of Ramadan, Eid-Al-Fatr, the actual date was determined by the observation of the new moon by local religious authorities.
I celebrated my day-off by doing a long run of 7 miles, twice the distance I have been running recently to see whether I had the stamina to do so a few months after my illness; from Nsanje to Chididi back and forth twice. A bunch of women with festive and colorful wrappers saw me on other days must have thought it strange for someone to run on a hot day and three of them spontaneously ran to me with open arms and big smiles and gave me a bear hug.
Here there was no celebration for the end of Ramadan as this region is mostly Christians or Animists. On Eid-Al-Fatr of 2011, I went to Kano, Nigeria, a Muslim region alone not knowing that a travel advisory was just released by the State Department advising US citizens not to travel to the north of Nigeria. There was a raid by the Boko Haram, Islamist extremists of Nigeria freeing some prisoners at a Bauchi police station in the north a few days before. Tension was also running high because of a threat by a Florida pastor to burn the Koran and BBC and CNN ran this piece of news constantly. I thought I could always use my cover as a Malaysia and moreover many times in Africa, besides being called Muzungu, I have been greeted with “Konichiwa!”. In the end I spent three peaceful days without incidents exploring Kano and was able to witness the Durbar, a spectacular horse parade at the Emir’s Pavilion at his Palace.
The local mountains beckoned but I could find no information about how to get to them or how safe it was to climb. Someone did give some vague directions but as I ran towards the way he indicated one day only to wind up in a village with such meandering dirt paths that I was afraid to lose my way. He did “promise” to come on a weekend day to hike but as always I did not take it seriously and did my own thing knowing that it was really a nebulous “maybe”. So no hiking for me at least for the moment.
Here darkness fell quite quickly and without much warning, the whole village was plunged into a dark void. I did not see any house with electricity but Shire House was brightly lit with porch lights all night making it difficult for me to enjoy the Milky Way. As dusk came the bats living in the rafters of the house flapped their wings and flew in groups into the evening sky ready to begin their nocturnal hunting. Roger our guard dog was finally allowed to come out for the night.