Every day we were blown away by the peace and beauty of Ngochoni. The atmosphere was idyllic: the children were always either studying diligently or playing cheerfully, so half the time there were no noises, and the other half we would hear giggles and shouts of camaraderie and teamwork from students playing organized sports. Occasionally a huge tractor carrying sugar cane stalks would rumble down the dirt road, and if it was during a break from classes, the students would run behind the tractor and gather up falling stalks… And maybe gather some stalks that hadn’t exactly “fallen” off. Then they would immediately start tearing apart the stalks, sucking on the sugars. Eddie tried eating sugar cane once, and determined it was a learned skill just to get the sheath off the cane. The kids just ripped them apart.
One of the most amazing sights was the sky. As the clouds moved in almost every afternoon, there would be a new incredible mixture of dark ominous clouds, shafts of light, and fierce midnight blues on one horizon and the setting sun with pinks and oranges on the other. We had a lot of fun going on walks and photographing the brilliant sky from different angles.
When the rains came, it changed everything. Hot dry days turned cool and humid, except in the sun where it still baked the standing water dry until the next rain. As the rainy season matured, even the sun couldn’t keep up and the ground was saturated with gooey black mud. The rains and winds were reminiscent of Florida’s hurricane season. By the end of our time at Petals, we were sleeping under a thick blanket!