But I'm supposed to be writing about my holiday. The first thing I did was go up to the Tengenenge sculpture farm/community to try my hand at sculpting. I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, set up my tent, and started sculpting. Tengenenge is an amazing place where resident artists and weekend artists sculpt their hearts away, the exhibition hall being the space between the trees and the homes. Many of Zimbabwe's great sculptors started there, and one well, known sculptor, Bernard Matamera, still lives there. He was the person who helped me out, finding me tools, giving me a water container, showing me how to use the tools, and talking to me, making me comfortable. In the time I was there he mainly sat in the shade, watching people walk around, or talking to whoever came by, but I guess he does some work sometimes because he has some pretty sizable sculptures around, and has commissions for a few more. The area where Tengenenge is situated is pretty out of the way, nestled right below some of the hills/mountains of the Great Dyke. There is running water, but no electricity. People create their own entertainment.
One night I was invited to dance with others in the moonlight to the sounds of the mbira, an instrument made from prongs of metal bolted to a wooden board, usually played inside a gourd (I'm not sure if I've described it accurately enough, but I hope people in the US get the idea). That was a special time, but the best came Sunday evening. I ate with Tom, the manager of Tengenenge, and his guest inside his rondaval by candlelight. As were were eating, the mbira player (I forget his name) came and played music for us. Gradually people followed the music to the rondaval and walked inside, sitting down along the wall patiently waiting for us to finish so the fun could begin. We moved the table against the wall and the dancing began. Everyone had a good time dancing and clapping and cheering others on. When I danced (after gathering up my courage) some chanted America, A-mer-i-ca, and when Tom's guest danced (just like a chicken) people gathered around her to watch. One high spirited man danced with me alone in front of all the people and we went wild jumping all over the place.
[Note from 2008: Since I was writing this for a general audience, I did not include my experience during the horrible massive thunderstorm that took place when I was there. I had set my tent under a tree, which I now know is a less than ideal place. Lightning strikes were happening all around. I was alone in the tent, and terrified. And what does one do in a highly combustible structure during a thunderstorm? Smoke! I don't smoke, but I did that night, and wrote in my journal about my fear of dying. Don't ask me where I got the cigarettes, but I had 'em and I smoked 'em. Obviously, I survived.]