With teen green James Cal­li­cott

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - RETAIL THERAPY -

EFORE I start bang­ing on about some gar­den­ing topic that will de­light, and excite you for the next few min­utes of your life, I would just like to start with a thank you or two.

Firstly, I would like to thank Laura for al­low­ing me to pour wa­ter over her for my last ar­ti­cle. How I man­aged to per­suade her to do that I don’t know, I am sure that some­time in the near fu­ture she will call on me to re­turn the pay­ment...

The sec­ond per­son I would like to thank is my sis­ter, Sarah, for tak­ing the pic­ture and cop­ing with all the fun and japes we had while shoot­ing.

I sup­pose com­pared to the ‘African ad­ven­ture’ Laura and I had only five weeks ago, hav­ing warm (ish) wa­ter poured over you from a wa­ter­ing can was rel­a­tive lux­ury.

Laura and I, along with four other teenagers, spent half of our sum­mer hol­i­days in Bu­rundi – the world’s poor­est county.

For three weeks we had un­re­li­able elec­tric­ity, no hot wa­ter and ex­pe­ri­enced roads that make you re­alise things are re­ally not that bad in Bucks.

It’s quite hard to de­scribe this amaz­ing coun­try. It’s eas­ier to say what they don’t have then what they do, and although there are some stark dif­fer­ence what Bu­rundi may lack in some ar­eas, it def­i­nitely makes up in the scenery and plants.

I felt like a bit of an idiot out there. I am not go­ing to lie – ev­ery so of­ten peo­ple would ask: ‘What’s that, James?’ and I would sim­ply have to say: ‘I have no idea’. They have bougainvil­lea and eu­ca­lyp­tus and day lilies like back at home, but they also have the stun­ning cal­lis­te­mon cit­ri­nus (bot­tle­brush tree) just grow­ing wild as a weed. In Bu­rundi, the lo­cals eat ‘Lenga Lenga’ a strange veg­etable that can only be de­scribed as be­ing sim­i­lar to cab­bage and they feed their live­stock on this strange, grass-like veg­e­ta­tion – only the leaves are about a me­tre long and 20cm wide.

I was taken aback when our trans­la­tor said: ’Look, the lo­cals are grow­ing rice’.

I was also shocked to drive though a palm oil plan­ta­tion, it re­ally is some­thing that has to be seen to be be­lieved.

For months when I was 14, I nur­tured 10 small cof­fee beans into seed­ing be­fore they died. In Bu­rundi, they grow with­out any prob­lems.

When you visit a coun­try like Bu­rundi it is only nat­u­ral that you ex­pe­ri­ence cul­ture shock.

Ev­ery­thing is so dif­fer­ent and no mat­ter how many times some­one says: ‘Your show­ers will be freez­ing’ it’s not till you get out there that you fully un­der­stand what they mean.

And although It was nice to get back home, there are many last­ing mem­o­ries, the land­scape and stun­ning veg­e­ta­tion will stay with me al­ways.

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