Sunday, September 23, 2012

Falling Down huts

There are a lot of huts in various states of disrepair around. In other parts of the country you'll see mostly apartment buildings, or square brick-and-mortar huts, or round mud huts covered in a protective layer of cement. Most of the huts around me are mud, though, just mud, or maybe mud spackled with a village cement made of sand and cow dung. My little hut is just whitewashed mud, with a thin cement floor added on later in order to comply with basic Peace Corps housing requirements. It works, I enjoy it, I feel very at home in my little mud house. But the mud huts aren't permanent, and when they're no longer tenable they crumble in all sorts of interesting ways. 

This hut on the left isn't really falling apart all that much, but it has a lovely squash vine on it and I like it very much. Some of the huts, especially the bigger ones with ample surface area, have stunningly large squash vines. They remind me of frilly old-timey bathing caps or something. The one on the right has slid down quite a bit over the last few weeks, the roof just sinking lower and lower after each rainstorm.

This is my favorite falling-down hut. It was at its best last month, when the tufts of grass around the wall were still short and neon-bright and the inside space was filled with corn stalks. Now the grass on top is grown long and looks slightly dry as it starts to go to seed. The broken-down huts are ruins, but ruins from a very recent past. They're made of dirt, so watching them slowly tumble back down to the ground while the grass and trees rise up around them seems symmetrical. Back from whence they came and all that. A solid hut can last for many years, a decade or mere. It's interesting, living in a structure that isn't intended or expected to last for ages. 

All the over-lush grass spilling out of the ruins of the hut on the left reminds me of a river, crashing through floodgates, and the one on the right makes me think of a game of pick-up-sticks. They're interesting, the falling-down huts, they're quiet and weathered and caught in the midst of a drastic transition; they're a little like clouds or inkblots. They look like sandcastles, or haunted shacks, or Andy Goldsworthy installation pieces. They're neat. 

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