I have these pictures in my head. Pictures of people and places I have seen. It’s my memories in colour. I wish I had them in little picture boxes to share. But I don’t. I just have these pictures in my head.

Pictures of the Pink Market in Bamako, Mali. The sea of colour spread as far as the eye can see. Clothes and textiles hanging from every stall, tent and shop. Shirts of gold, blue, white – all shades and colours, more than the rainbow can give. Shirts and tunics and dresses hanging everywhere. And the women in their bright clothes and big smiles. Mulling around and laughing and talking. Neighbours during the day and friends at night.

Pictures of Soweto Market in Lusaka. Taxi’s everywhere. The minibus taxi’s. Blue and yellow or whatever spraypaint they could get their hands on. The backyard mechanics working at the stop street. Welding “new” exhaust pipes on cars still idling. And the tables with their variety of goods spread out. Fresh fruits and vegetables – oranges, carrots, potatoes, apples and everything you would want. And don’t forget the nsima and stewed beef. Or the dried Mopani worms ready for a salad – like croutons. And the men sitting in the alley’s drinking beer and talking soccer. Pictures of life and living.

Pictures of the arts and craft sellers on the side of the road on the way to Masvingo in Zimbabwe. Two or three soccer fields big. Sellers and artists a meter or two apart. Row upon row. With a government agent standing out acting as a seller. But the suit and the sunglasses give them away. They’ve  watched too many Western spy movies. But the artists sit there with a dusty backdrop and the beautiful Zimbabwe hills scattered around them. And their art. Art of wooden carved heads, soapstone mother-and-child abstracts, traditional clothes and much, much more. Just more and more – row upon row. Fields of art. And fields of people.

So many pictures. The flower sellers in Cape Town with their wide smiles and Table Mountain backdrop. Fisherman in Hout Bay coming in with their catch. Rows and rows of construction and more construction in Abuja, Nigeria. Carpets of trees as far as the eye can see when flying over the Cameroon jungle. The Danube with the spectacular Buda Castle as a backdrop in Budapest, Hungary. Lake Geneva from the window of a train. The Sun and Moon Pyramids in Mexico standing tall with cities of ancient civilizations scattered around and underground. So many pictures.

But my pictures can’t tell you of the smells, sounds and tastes that lingers in my mind.

I can hear the Cape Town flower sellers shouting funny lines to get you to buy their flowers. “Two Rand a bunch”. Or the ice-cream guy shouting, “A lolly to make you jolly, a sucker to make you wakker“. The languages going wild in Pink Market. And Spanish all around in Mexico. Not a word I understand. But it still sounds like music.

The taste of my first cheese fondue in Lausanne in Switzerland. Followed by horse steak as a main course. And chilli on everything in Mexico. And tequila to take your breath away. And having some more. My first good coffee ever in a little coffee shop in Brussels. And later having a Turkish coffee a few blocks away. And still trying to go to sleep more than ten years later.

The smell of the perfumery in Luxembourg. And dog poo in Paris. Fresh fish bought from the fisherman in Strand. Real butter on the farm in the Karoo. Manure on the farm… Afval and putu on a wonky table in Khayelitsha. Fresh baked roosterkoek on the fire at Ouma’s place.

They are all good. But my pictures don’t fade. They just get more colourful by the day. The shades of poverty around the corner disappears. The darkness of sick and hungry children fades way in the background. Every spot of bad memories grows fainter by the day. Only the colours of happiness and beauty remains. And become brighter by the day. That’s how I want my pictures to be. The good things of life and living etched in my mind. Smiling faces. Happy times.

I hope you have some pictures too.

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