When I was in the Serengeti last March/April time Joe, the Yr 5 teacher, came up with a game to keep us amused. Any time another safari car came by you had to wave at the occupants of the car. Easy enough you would think, but the game was to keep on waving for as long as you could, beyond the comfortable limits of being polite. You won if you managed to wave for the longest time, especially if the others waved back. If they didn’t they were normally termed ‘miserable bastards’ and waved at anyway with a fixed grin on our faces. It was like a car version of this:
Long car journeys when I was small always involved waving at other travellers, people in coaches, other children trapped in the back of cars being dragged by their parents to god-knows-where and, of course, truckers. You were most successful if you got a trucker to honk their horn at you as you drove past. Sometimes this would be accompanied by Dad’s truck driving country song mix tape. Later, in our battered space cruiser, the Fairport Convention album ‘Glady’s Leap’ got stuck in the tape player and so was on repeat for about 3 years. When I hear this song, I can still picture myself staring out of the moon roof, trying to count stars as we went Driving In The Dark.
I’ve been playing the waving game a little bit since getting here. It’s one of the things I do to entertain myself when I’m plodding around on my own. It seems to work well on boats, although everyone else gives up a little quicker than I do, but then they don’t know we’re playing. If they did, they’d probably try a little harder.
What I have noticed in most of the places I’ve been to, around the UK, Western Europe, Tanzania, Kenya and now Thailand, is that children still delight in getting a wave out of strangers driving or sailing by. In Tanzania, children would rush to the sides of the road waving frantically, on the motorways of France, Spain and Germany they press their faces up against their car windows, hands madly shaking back and forth. In Thailand there’s a mixture of the two, kids by the side of the road, perched on scooters, in the front of pick up trucks. And anywhere you go you are greeted with huge smiles. If only we were by more adults.