“Shush, don’t be afraid.” I whisper as I inch closer in my crouching position. The tall, dry grass makes my skin itch as it pokes and prods me. I stop moving for a second and wipe the sweat from my forehead. The sun’s harsh light forces me to squint my eyes as I lean forward, my arm extended.
“Come on, I’m not going to hurt you.” I say, gently.
“Ava!” Someone yells behind me and I jump. This causes the small creature to stir in fright and spin around, hopping into the grass.
“Oh, darn!” I mutter, falling into a sitting position.
“Right here!” I growl. Chacha comes up from behind me and struggles to push the grass away. He steps in front of me and sits down.
“There you are.” He breathes out heavily.
“You scared it away!” I mutter angrily. Chacha is one of the only African people here that can speak English, Although some words he finds hard to understand.
“Scared away what?” He asks.
“The Clawed frog! And you know that those types of frogs are hard to find around here.” I sigh.
“Oh gosh, I am so sorry, it would have been awesome if you could have caught it.” Chacha has just recently learnt what ‘awesome’ means and is saying it in almost every sentence now. Chacha learnt how to speak English when a traveler came to live in Africa when Chacha was two. The traveler died a year ago. I didn’t speak with him much. I think that his name was Jamie.
“Chacha?” I say.
“Yes?” He whispers as he picks at the dead grass beneath him.
“What does you’re name mean?” I have been meaning to ask him this for a while now but I have never gotten round to it.
“It’s means strong.” He says. It’s true. He is built strong with muscle except the fact that he is naturally very skinny. In this part of Africa, we are supplied with a good amount of food because of the travelers that come. We need to feed them and we get money from when they come for tours and cabins. Chacha is black and is good looking but not my type. He is my friend. My best friend actually and I don’t want to ruin our relationship.
“That is cool.” I say.
“Cool?” He looks at me with mock confusion. I playfully slap his arm.
“My words are ‘cool’? They are frozen? Or cold?” He smiles.
“No, it’s like awesome but… cool.” I say, laughing. He laughs too and stands up, taking my hands. He lifts me to my feet.
“Thank you.” I say and smile, “ Race you to the main cabin!”
“You’re on!” He says, running beside me. I don’t really stand a chance, he has long slim legs built for these weather conditions and grounds. I press on, trying to catch up to him. I am a step behind him, his head in front of mine. I feel the good, cold air whip past me as I sprint faster. I put my best into my efforts just as we get to the cabin and press on, my legs wobbly. Once we pass the cabin, we slow down and I fall to the ground, puffing.
“You win.” Chacha struggles to say next to me. I laugh and stand up, brushing the brown grass from my shorts. We don’t usually wear shoes here. All I wear most of the time is a singlet and shorts. I used to get burnt all the time but Elewa (The tribe and host) bought some sunscreen off of a tourist a year ago. He’s been doing that ever since. It’s hard to get some but when we do it’s like a miracle.
“Come on, Chacha!” I grab his hand and pull him up with a grunt.
“Ah, I am so not in shape.” He shakes his head.
“What? You so are! Compare yourself to an average American.” I laugh.
“Oi, that’s racist.” He laughs.
“And you care?” I smirk.
“Not entirely.” He chuckles, following me into the main cabin.
“What are our chores for today?” I ask Elewa as I open the door. He looks up from his papers. Elewa has been like a father to me ever since my parents died.
“Look on the board.” He says. He’s not the best at English but he’s getting there. I turn and look at the black board by the door.
“Aw, Im on water duty.” I say, glumly.
“Aha!” He points and laughs at me.
“HAHAHAHAHA, you’re on toilets!” I laugh so hard that no noise comes out. He crosses his arms.
“Darn.” He mutters as he walks out of the cabin.
“Totsiens!” I wave to Elewa. (Goodbye)! He smiles and waves before looking back down at his papers in his hands.
I run out the door and sprint toward the river down the hill. We are lucky that we have water so close. In some places, women have to walk miles for water. Once I am close enough, I can here the trickle of water passing over the rocks and I can feel the spray of water against my skin. We’re not allowed to go into the water or anything because we may contaminate it. I walk forward and pick up one of the buckets by the shore.
The bucket is connected to a rope which threads through a metal hoop on every bucket. The rope is tied into a knot so it looks like a circle then the rope goes over a rock which holds it secure just in case the water tries to wash away the buckets. I go down onto my knees and use the bucket to scoop up some water. It doesn’t fill to the top when I do this so I put the water into another bucket then get some more water, putting it in the other bucket. I keep doing this until the bucket is full. Then I go to the next bucket. There are six buckets in total and I need to do two rounds for bathing and the toilets. For cleaning, you get the water at the time of cleaning.
“Hey!” Chacha says as he approaches me.
“Hi.” I say as I fill the second bucket.
“I just need to fill this bucket so I can clean the… Toilets.” He wrinkled his nose. I snort and move over so he can fill his bucket.
“Did you hear? There’s a new tourist.” Chacha says as he kneels down beside me.
“Awesome.” I say quietly as I fill the next bucket.
“All I know is, he is white and is a traveler who is here for studies and is apparently going to be here for a long while. Maybe a year. Elewa said he is over 20.” Chacha says as he stands up.
“Do you know where he is from?” I look up and shield my eyes from the sun with my hand.
“No, I only know that he is white and doesn’t come from anywhere near here.” Chacha answers.
"Oh ok." I murmur.
"It's your 18th birthday in two days." Chacha smiles.
"Yea, I know." I mutter.
"It'll be awesome, you wait and see. You'll finally be the same age as me!" He laughs before he waves and picks up his bucket, walking back up the hill. I frown before turning back to my bucket, filling up the last one.
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