For the next week, I will be sitting in front of my computer and piles of papers. I am glad I got this beautiful breath of fresh air in Uganda just before this time. Images of fluffy clouds, brilliant skies, and picturesque villages will be dancing in my head while I stare at technology.
RC: My feet do not get clean until I return to the States.
PC: Do you use your lofa on them when you shower?
RC: Ewww. It touches the rest of my body. Why would I do that?
PC: Because it has soap on it.
LS: It tastes like sweat. (Of oral rehydration salts.)
SR: Good ting I have low rise pants on. ( Due to the effects of dinner
expanding in her stomach after drinking some water…)
Of cheese just boiled, that had previously been sitting on the ‘kitchen’
LS: And then it will go back to being unrefridgerated?
RC: No….then we will get electricity and a fridge.
Describing her junior high crush…..
SR: He was sooo popular… and once he gave me a Milky Way!
While reviewing some data….
PC: I bet you didn’t know you could have a pH of a 100.
LS: What is the difference between ‘por favor’ and ‘s’il vous plait’?
RC: Ummm…..’por favor’ is Spanish?
Written by ‘my girls.’ To the tune of “God Bless America”
God bless mosquito coils
spirals that we love.
Stay lighted all nighted,
till the sun rises high up above.
From the kitchen
to the bedroom,
protect us from itchy bites.
God bless mosquito coils
Guarding our home sweet home.
Most of the â€˜non-majorâ€™ roads here are dirt roads, many of them red. When you turn off the North-South highway to head to village, you are on just such a road. Approximately six kilometers later you stumble upon my village after passing three other villages, the last one 2-3 kilometers away. The house I live in is on the back edge of the village, so when I get up in the mornings I can slip out of the house, greet a minimal number of people, and head for a nice walk down the red dirt road. This allows me time to stretch my legs, see the land and the fields, think, and be refreshed. It took a long time for people to understand what I was doing, but it is an expected and known thing now, and it seems to make people smile.
With the recent trips and training further away, I have not been out on my road nearly as much in the past two weeksâ€”it is precious time I have missed. There are always people headed to farm that I greet along the way, and sometimes there are kids that fall in line along beside and behind me. Today I saw three little friends that have taken to a new, fun practice when we happen upon each other in the mornings.
When they see me they start running to be the first one there and open there arms wide. They then get a hug as they are twirled in the air. Whether they are the first one, the last one, or the middle one to arrive, they all get this treatâ€”a treat on our red dirt road that I believe we will all miss during the coming year.
[editor’s (a friend) note: i do not believe this posting contains any allusions (other than the title) to the catchy country song “red dirt road.” this belief, however, has not stopped the song from playing repeatedly through my brain as i read the blog. i wonder if other readers will endure the same mental radio…]
Yesterday at the end of the church service, every one stayed around for a little reception afterwards as a child had died a week ago, and we had bri (porridge) of acasa and some people had drinks (I have still managed to decline local alcohol). You have to understandâ€”I really am not a fan of acasa to start out with. Acasa is made from yams (white root â€“ not American sweet potatoes) that have been dried in the sun, then pounded to powder, then rehydrated to form a starch that is eaten with the various sauces at lunch or dinner. It is kind of like Jell-O jigglers that is white with no good fruity flavor. With sauce, I now have no issues with it, though do not choose to eat acasa when at restaurants. Nowâ€¦.bri of acasa. Ouch. All the lack of (or questionable) flavor with (maybe?) a hit of sugar with NO sauce. And, an extra large serving of it because well, I am a guest. Why didnâ€™t they make bri of maize? Bri of maize is similar to cream of wheat, and I make it regularly for breakfast here. Needless to say, I was quick to decline the extra serving I was offered when I got to the bottom of my bowl.
The second unpleasantry was for one of my students. Weâ€™ll call her â€˜fizzi-lessâ€™ (FL) for this entry. She hates anything fizzi: soda, champagne, and probably beer. It makes her tongue hurt and it is hilarious to watch her face when she has a sip of something fizzi. I thought we were going to make through our time here without her getting a soda as a gift from a village that she would have to drink, but last night killed that track record. We were all promptly given warm Cokes after the meeting with the new village. She was coaxed through it, but managed to drink the whole bottle without a look of pain on her face. FL is keeping the bottle cap as a remembrance of her first and (she hopes) last Coke ever.
It is amazing how much information is absorbed over travels in which either I or others
have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I
believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far
this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another
apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral
rehydration salts (ORS).
In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as
they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When
people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are
vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if
you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes.
Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because
of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual
Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If
you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are
truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet.
It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS
thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want to
put down because of how salty it tasted.
I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in
nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly
suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration
can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in
the beginning: are you peeing clear?
27 June 2006
The first training will happen this Thursday thru Saturday, the second
training is the following Thursday thru Saturday. Each training is
hosted by one village, and another village sends four individuals to the
hosting village for the training. As the villages are within a 30 minute
drive, we travel to and from the villages. During the lunch breaks the
first I will also be doing some sampling that needs to happen, and
surveys will occur this Sunday afternoon at two villages as well. My
time will be full, but before it all I get the glories of market day on
I am beginning to think that I should create a â€˜to doâ€™ list for bits of training that I would be useful in the future. Top of that list would be some nursing or medical training. I have all of the first aid you get from lifeguard training as well as the nice little pile of other information that is absorbed over travels in which either I or others have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral rehydration salts (ORS).
In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes. Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual illness.
Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet. It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want toput down because of how salty it tasted.
I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in the beginning: are you peeing clear?
One of the houses close to mine in village was destroyed in the last year. The large mud bricks used to make most of the homes are tumbled on top of each other. The frame for the roof is there though slightly burnt, but the metal is gone.
A couple of nights ago, as I was walking by the fallen house with a friend, I finally asked what happened. I was wondering if there was a fire or a structural problem; maybe something completely logical once I knew.
The response to my question was simple and to the point: Elle est fatiguÃ©. (She was tired.) I wonder if we could ever use such a logical, simple, straight-forward response as the reason for fallen structures in the US of A.
Although I am normally trying to conserve batteries, I need to use part of my computer battery to test the solar power system I am trying to set up, so I thought I would share a bit about the evolution of my shower â€˜roomâ€™.
My shower room is found in the area behind my house, next to the kitchen. It has three and a half walls that go up to about mid-neck level on me. My first summer here and part of the second summer, the fourth wall was completed by placing a wrap (saraong / sulu / piece of fabric) over the piece of wood that balanced on top of the wall. The bucket that had the water necessary for the shower was then placed against wrap on the side where I stood while partaking of the shower. This system generally worked well to hide my white body.
I say generally because there were several times that this system failed me when we had slightly stronger winds. One night in particular it must have been after 9pm, and although there was little moon, the stars were brilliant. Two girls that live in the other half of the â€˜duplexâ€™ were sitting outside. The first time that the piece of wood fell (and with it, the wrap) and I scrambled to keep myself decent and replace the wood (and the wrap), I thought I heard the girls trying to contain laughter. It would be too rude to laugh aloud about the situation. The second time, they had to try a little harder to keep it in. An unprecedented third time, I gave up with a loud: â€œImpossible câ€™est soire!â€ and there was no containing the laughter of all three of us.
Shortly after that I had the brilliant idea of buying some nails and using some of my rope to make a line that, while the wrap could still blow in the wind, would not be precariously balanced, and therefore would not fall. Sitting on top of the wall I was reminded why apparently simple tasks take so much longer than anticipated here: In places, the wall wanted to crumble, and in other places it was impenetrable. Perseverance paid off though, and I had my line.
This year, there was yet another brilliant idea from my colleague, IA: place a straw mat on top of the line. Although it moves some in the breeze, it is a significant improvement over using the wrap. Besides, I now have one less thing to carry to the shower room.
About to sign off, I realize that I might need to clarify for some readers why my Beninoise friends had not already made such modifications. You see, a wrap moving, or even nonexistent, is only an issue when we have a full moon and there is no need for flashlight outside at all. Otherwise, their bodies absorb the light and they disappear into the night. If you want to understand how well a white body reflects the light, look at a white t-shirt in a fairly dark room, or just look up at the moon.
About 30 minutes before coming home from mass yesterday, a baobab tree fell down near my house (these are much smaller than their cousins in East Africa). Praise be to God that it did not hit a house, or the children who had been playing there only five minutes before. However, the reason that it fellâ€”its innards largely hollowed out–made for a less enjoyable afternoon. It was full of bees. We were told to stay away for a while, then spent much of the afternoon inside, windows shut. Men worked to cut it open to get the honey last night (supposedly the bees are more tranquil at night), and were to burn the part with the bees. So, our windows were shut last night. Thankfully, it was a cool night, although sleeping in my underwear was justified. Seems they never got to the burning process though, so we might have a repeat of that tonight. I have no desire to be in much pain and swell up like a pumpkin because angry bees decide to rest on my mosquito net or in my house.
Today I made my first â€˜grand promenadeâ€™ of the village; the primary objective of which was to greet the people I had not yet greeted, of which there were many (and I am sure that many still remain). During this walk I managed to eat an ear of corn off the fire, play a mancala-like game (I am horrible, but the attempt was appreciated I think), and, while holding a practical new-born child (Ricardo), I ended up getting my hair done. It is in a number of little braids against the scalp, a style I rather enjoy. The only issue with this is that I always forget the pain involved in having such things done. It is probably a good thing that I forget between each such occurrence as it is always a big hit (besides, I appreciate having to do nothing with my hair for a few days). Each culture has its own practices, but it is amazing what we do for that thing called beauty.
Technologyâ€¦.some days I would love to simply chuck it all out of a very tall building. Then I would not have to lug it around or spend much time and energy making it all happy. Then there are other times, times like this, when it finally all works, and I can say hello. Hopefully it will continue to work sans problems for the remainder of the summerâ€¦.
Yesterday Steve had a meeting in village and I got to greet a number of people. Today I had hoped to have a meeting, but that is postponed until Sunday. All that to say: this happened the second time that Remi greeted me.
We were standing in what is more or less my backyard (walled in dirt yardâ€”the shower room is off of this space, there is a cooking area, etc.). Remi, a village elder with whom I have become reasonably good friends, regardless of his French being more limited than mine, and my Datcha nonexistent, came through the house to greet me. A moment later he is holding my arms out as if I am a crucifix. He decided that by the time I left last summer, I was larger than I am now; I must have lost some weight in the past year. Another individual then decides to take stock of the situation and puts in his two cents: no, I have gained weight in the past year. Hmmâ€¦.maybe I really havenâ€™t changed at all, and it is just their minds.
Needless to say, some things do not translate across cultures, and it always makes me laugh that constant tabs (that are then rapidly related back to me) are kept on my figure.