Down the slope, passing dry grass and old corn stalks, my shoes turning a brown to match the dirt. I pass a baby goat, chewing sideways, showing its small pink tongue. The wind blows at my skirt and I pass small children calling me. Where am I going, where is the candy, my name over, and over.
At the bottom, I stomp off some dust as I start down the paved road. My shoes crunching the uneven tarred gravel, dodging broken glass and manure scattered on the road.
Next I’m going up a steep hill, I hear the rush of white noise and turn to see a car, but it’s just the river, the wind carrying its sound up the hill. Bo-‘me wearing blankets and carrying buckets, saying hello as they work to keep everything balanced on their heads.
I go on, passing mud and thatch houses, a glimpse of the fading past, then concrete and metal ones, attempts at an idea of modern life.
I pass some cows, rambling down the road, trailed by a tan, wrinkled calf and a whistling herdboy in oversized white boots. I wave at a group of old women sitting, laying in the grass, soaking in the sun, wrapped in blankets to keep out the wind.
More houses, more children, more waving, greeting.
Going past mixtures of cows, goats, sheep, sometimes a dejected donkey with a load, all heading out to pastures in the mountains, followed by their herdboys and their tuneless songs. I pass a couple of chickens pecking away at debris in the ditch beside a curve in the road. It’ll be full of water soon.
At the outskirts of the village, I pass the school, with children shouting, running, playing, in their matching black sweaters showing holes from wear.
Now it’s just me and the road, surrounded by mountains in varying shades of green, patched with narrow, dusty rows of corn stalks. I can still hear distant cowbells and calls, but the wind blurs it and blows me along. I have to stop to fix my skirt again.
Around another curve, I step aside to let the speeding taxi-van pass me, its horn sliding into dissonance as it rushes past.
Up a gentle slope, my feet are tired from the pounding on the road, step after step after step. Some bird, high above, soars past me, riding on warm wind pooling and rising between the mountains.
The last incline, the mast curve, and then I’m there. For a couple of hours of teaching, rephrasing, gesturing, drawing, trying to get them to understand.
Then it’s back out, down the road, everything in reverse but for the growing soreness in my feet and the number of children calling.