The sounds of East Africa are largely unfamiliar as I am introduced and immersed in them. The incessant call of the dove – 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. Such a determined and persistent little bird I think to myself. The owls are hyperactive in East Africa, I surmise, as they hoot in double time and in five sharps. I hear the lovely sound of water splashing as the medical center laundress hand washes the linens and hangs them on the line to dry. She chatters and sings in Swahili as she works. I am aware of the sound of footsteps on the dirt and gravel road as the Masaii warrior strolls by, making certain that all is well. His walking stick thuds on the dry dirt in rhythm with his steps. A long, soprano trill is the canopy of sound and comes from the brush all around the compound. “Jambo- Jambo,” the Swahili greeting of warm welcome is carried on the breeze and through the window as I sit and write at the bungalow table. Dogs bark angrily and fiercely from nearby living areas, intermittently during the day and more frequently during the blackness of night. I hear the laughter and playfulness of school childen carried on the breeze and surmise they are dressed in their school uniforms, hanging askew as they run and jump and skip. I recognize the absence of sound – no telephone ring, no car engine, no pager beeping. From moment to moment, I note the absence of any sounds of people, although I know they are nearby.
– Denise O-D