What a beautiful day! I took the advice of my physician and embarked on the vacation of my dreams. Doc said my blood pressure was skyrocketing and I had to lower my stress level. What better way to end the stresses of work than with a vacation? I have always dreamed of an African safari, but not the typical journey. I wanted something off the beaten path, something to reduce stress and help the old ticker.
I can’t tell you how many American tourists I passed when I first arrived at the airport, loud and aggravating, eager to tell the world they were Americans. They pointed at residents and guffawed at what was different. I had the unfortunate luck of being stuck behind them. I’m sure it was probably just a fluke. I’m sure more Americans are respectful when they visit. People like that is the primary reason I chose to vacation away from people.
I first read about Zimbiki online. There were some mentions of the occasional tourist, but the native people I’ve met are friendly. I am excited to see the wildlife. It’s much different than home. My driver was waiting on me when I stepped off the plane. I’m now learning to write while riding in a bouncing vehicle to document my journey. I don’t want to forget a minute of it.
I’ve already met two acquaintances staying here. Rah and Osia are brothers traveling together. They are originally from Egypt, but travel most of the time. It is a relief to know I’m not the only stranger in this strange land. It is intimidating to be in a place where no one knows you. They arrived yesterday evening.
This place has surprised me. I expected more of an arid landscape. We passed through a desert, but it evolved into a grassy plain. I admit I am now a few hundred miles from a telephone. I didn’t bring my laptop or my cell phone. It’s nothing, but rustic living for my stress-free vacation. I will write what I see and take photographs, but no technology for me. No ringing, beeping, paging, or vibrating demanding my attention. Nothing, but clean, pure living the way it’s supposed to be.
We arrived in Zimbiki yesterday afternoon. I photographed many new and strange flowers in this hidden oasis. I watched a live black mamba slither past the jeep as we watched the animals. We passed a herd of elephants and a pride of lions about fifty miles from here. It’s amazing. I love this territory. I can’t get used to the air, there’s no humidity at all. I should’ve brought some lotion or something. My skin is so itchy.
There is a lot of chatter in the village today. The excitement brought us out of our tents this morning. An entire herd of cattle was found dead in the field outside of town. The village is surrounded by farms and growers. No one knows why they died. We received some strange looks when we were in town today, but I hope it meant nothing. I fear they blame us. Perhaps I should be moving on soon. I hate the thoughts of leaving the village. It was so peaceful yesterday.
Oddly, I noticed there aren’t any other tourists around here. I assumed there would be a few, aside from Rah and Osia. Where is everyone? If only I had a telephone, I could get a ride and go elsewhere. Maybe this wasn’t the right time to visit Zimbiki. Maybe I made a mistake by coming here.
Rah and Osia don’t seem to be affected by the events. Of course, they don’t hold the locals in high regard. Rah thinks the villagers are nothing more than primitive barbarians who will throw rocks at us if they’re mad. Osia follows his brother, but I’m not so dismissive. People here are nothing like Americans. So many Americans seem to be far too proud of the assumptions on them. Those people at the airport are no exception. I’m feeling very isolated right now. I don’t want any assumptions on me. There’s a feeling of safety that exists in numbers and you don’t consider it until you’re alone.
I guess I will just have to wait until the jeep comes back to the village to leave. It shouldn’t be long. Rah and Osia said they have visited Zimbiki many times and a jeep always comes through every other day if anyone has the money to travel.
It isn’t looking good. I am far more troubled today. Before, I had dismissed any real threat, just like Rah and Osia told me to. We were far too dismissive.
The American Embassy is two hundred miles away, barely a half-day’s trip via car over the terrain. I’ve just caught word that my car would not return for another two weeks.
My two friends said they could get a vehicle and, if I wished, they could have one here in a day, at a reasonable price. I have consented. My stay in Zimbiki has been unsettling and I can’t wait to leave. So much for a dream vacation. I should have known that something like this would happen. Zimbiki seemed so beautiful and peaceful, but it isn’t.
I had a bizarre experience with the mailman today. I tried to mail a letter to the Embassy in Kenya for help. The man who brings the postal correspondence for the villagers took my letter, but after I’d walked off, I darted around a building and hid. When I peeked around the hut, the mailman ripped it to shreds and made some strange gesture over the pieces on the ground.
I’m terrified. I need my family and friends more than ever in this hateful place and have no way of contacting them. Rah and Osia are the only English speaking people, but they can’t read English at all. Perhaps the postmaster believed my letters and numbers were a curse. I don’t know. None of this makes sense to me. I’m too Western in my thinking.
I would run to the Embassy on foot, but I would never make it. I don’t know the terrain and the creatures here are far more dangerous than those in America. That pride of lions stands between me and Kenya. My driver said they’d probably be in that region for a while. That doesn’t even take any snakes or other harmful pests into consideration.
I am marooned here until something develops. I will not leave my hut. I can’t leave.
The situation is escalating. I am scared of the villagers. The people here are discussing witchcraft and the arrival of a witch hunter. I am terrified. From the glances I’ve gotten today, I am the one they suspect. Rah has told me repeatedly not to venture outside the village, but I can’t go into the village without him or Osia by my side, either. I am to stay in my hut when alone and not speak to anyone. To make matters worse, there’s a strange drought over the land. They know these people far more than I do. I think I’ll listen to them.
My friends said a car is being delivered to the village. It’s supposed to be here in the morning. I hope that nothing will happen. I thought this was going to be a stress-free vacation. Perhaps, I should just go home. I can vacation in America and never have this problem.
Three more herds have wound up dead. They say there are symbols drawn around the fields that they’re in. I am scared.
No car arrived this morning. Rah and Osia seem annoyed, but remain far more optimistic than I do. There’s no word from any civilized places outside the village. Apparently, other towns and communities outside Zimbiki believe the curse will spread to them. How can this be? How can these places still be so primitive?
Curses are not logical. Can’t the locals watch my hut and see I do not leave it? How could I kill entire herds without leaving my hut? But, there is no reasoning with them. They don’t accept rational thought.
I hate to discuss it, but if they kill me, at least I have a written record of what transpired and what happened. Maybe someone, somewhere, will send it to my family. I have even considered using “the curse” as a form of power and threatening to kill further herds if someone doesn’t help, but that could easily backfire. One wrong interpretation and who knows how quickly a spear would kill me?
Why did I have to come here? Why did I ever leave my home country?
I’m writing from the back of a truck as it rolls and bounces over the land. I’m writing by flashlight. I don’t know if I’ll ever see anyone again. Last night the villagers began throwing burning torches into my hut. The entire village gathered around my quarters and those who didn’t throw fire and rocks shouted things in their language. I guess they were either obscenities or curses.
The driver they mentioned attempted to creep in during the night to avoid attention. It was too late. The unsuspecting driver was ambushed. Osia woke and tried to help the dying driver, but he was then killed. The angry mob threw his head in my tent and it struck me. That woke me from troubled sleep.
Rah is very upset and isn’t talking. Perhaps he blames me now that we’re far from other people. Rah and I fled the growing violence as quickly as we could. I hid beneath a tarp over the back of the jeep. He drove like a madman and barely escaped several rocks. The windshield is covered with a web of cracks.
I can only hope he is honest and doesn’t harbor any resentment. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Can’t anyone see that? I didn’t cause any of it. I just wanted to relax.
Well, just a few more hours and we’ll be back to some semblance of civilization. If only I can hold on that long without rousing Rah’s anger. Just a few hours and I can leave this God-forsaken place.
Wait… Why is Rah looking at me like that? Why does he suddenly seem so enraged, he’s just driving? He’s feeling for something in front seat. What is it? Why…