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Monday, September 28, 2009

you know you're in Africa when . . .

You're washing dishes and hear a peculiar almost electronic hum, but there are no electronics around, so you walk out to see what is happening and notice the air around the mango tree thickened, wavy, shimmering with a cloud of thousands of bees . . a colony has moved in, a huge mass of bee-bodies forms a dark growth on the trunk today, a deathly danger.  This is not a few bees pollinating flowers, this is a hostile takeover of the mango tree.  Which is usually infested with fruit bats, by the way, and has been declared off-limits to our kids since ebola was linked to bats . . not to mention that previous climbs have resulted in broken arms. In Africa the back yard is not necessarily a benign place of refuge.

You're biking down the sandy damp road to work and almost wipe out because a black hairy pig decides to trot across the road, taking no heed of down-hill bicycle speeds, and then stops squarely in the middle to root out an interesting smell.  Thankful the brakes work!

You're counting your blessings because the ward had only two patients overflowing onto the floor after filling every bed, and no one died all weekend or all morning, and the two nurses on duty actually came to work and were less than an hour late, and the theatre nurse was actually present running the charcoal pressure-cooker sterilizer so that there is hope the burn patient will get his dressings changed today, and everyone waiting for consultation had straightforward issues like malaria and pus-ridden skin.  A good start to the week, in spite of it being a Monday.

You're invited to a meeting with the member of parliament who also happens to be a Minister in the Education department, and spend the entire morning waiting for the big man to arrive, knowing that the hundreds of other people also waiting mean your chance of actually connecting with the MP is slight, but the fall-out of being seen leaving is also potentially harmful, so you're stuck.

You're awakened every morning by the new Nyahuka taxi, which finds it essential to gather customers by beginning to blare it's horn every 90 seconds from approximately 4:30 to 6:30 am, a marketing ploy that does not seem to be impacted by the fact that NO ONE comes to board at 4:30.  Remember that none of our houses have window panes, just open screen, so outdoor sounds are not muted at all.  Some of us are distant enough that it is merely an annoyance, but for those closer to town it must feel like a traffic jam in the driveway every morning.

You're preparing to cook and remove approximately a quarter cup of grass, dirt, sticks, and two live worms from the two cups of beans from the market.

You look at the clear morning sky suffused with pink, shiver a little in spite of being on the equator, and know that by noon it will be intensely hot and by 4 pm it will be raining.  Every day.

You see more smiles than tears from people around you, whose lives you could only barely imagine living, they take it in stride and still find the humor.  Humbling and amazing.


1 comment:

Pam said...

I love this post!