Time passes in an odd way in a place that lacks the advent of watches or calendars and you learn to tell time in other ways. According to the one and a quarter tubes of toothpaste, 3 packages of pre-malaria meds, and 4 bars of bath soap (yes only 4) that I’ve gone through since arriving here, it is time for yet another update from this pair of rambling pants.
The most notable event is that the rains have finally arrived. It was just as exciting and wonderful of an event as you would imagine this opening of the heavens first time in 5 months to be. It had a contagious festivity that was complete with impromptu singing, dancing and mad scrambling to get stuff under cover. I motivated people to rethatch my roof the day before this affair began, which rather remind me of a cow peeing on a flat rock. The debris and dust this process deposited in my house was nothing short of a pain in my taco.
The best part about the rains, other than finally all my plants (you know how I love my plants) are starting to not look so sad, are the mangos. Mango season is just starting to set in here and they are .08$ a piece. I daily have been eating enough to make my face feel a little puffy. But the day before the rains came was a rather surreal day for me. I was sitting on the step of one of the groceries on market day, which in my village is a big deal though it is still nonsensically small. It was the first day I can remember having been let alone. I don’t mean this in a negative way...ok maybe a little….but I sat down and other than a few waves, I was allowed to just sit and not engage in social interaction, funny how not being talked to is evidence confirming that everybody knows you. I watched these people as they function in what is their reality and recognized that for the time being it is mine too. Before I had the tendency to think of my time here as more like a video game I could turn off and walk away from any time if it got too hard.
It was also this day that I decided that though I am enjoying myself here I never want to be this far from my family, friends (who are as good as family) and overall a world in which I understand how everything works, for this long ever again. A reaffirming discovery as to why my underlying priorities been always been what they are. Though I’m told at point when I return to the world that little bit of Africa rolling around inside of me will even make the world I know unfamiliar. The day before the rains was also the day I saw my first African rainbow, they look a lot like the ones in Utah.
I am in the processes of weaving a chicken coop so I can get some egg chickens, got three avocado trees to plant and I’ve been continuing to volunteer a lot of time with the International Award at Kamuzu Academe. The latest was a trip to the dam that supplies water. A rather small save haven for diversity. Compete with turtles, chameleons, stag lilies and a variety of the rare in this overly cultivated landscape. In the evening the flocks of sparrows rode in the windy sky, skewing the scale of the place to make them seem like swarming mosquitoes. The students were a pleasure to work with as I helped teach ecology and expedition skills. I don’t do this just so I can take advantage of the Academe’s hot showers and up the number of bars of soap I’ve used since arriving here to 5 because if I hadn’t joined Peace Corps I would have opted for an environment education position so it appears I have gotten my pineapple upside-down cake and eaten it too. I’ve also spent a couple of days laying on the late-afternoon warmed beach listening to the waves call to the stars, which would the next day carry sunshine to the shore, with my sitemate Audra from Wisconsin and all we could think of to say to each other is how we missed the snow. We giggled at what sick puppies we are.
I have also been make really good friends with the British teachers here and when interacting I can’t help but get the feeling I’m getting to know some long lost relative. In some slanted way this is true seeing as I am of Irish, Welch, Scottish, and German decent but I can’t stop imagining them in little red hats and wonder how the hell a bunch of farmers with guns beat them? At first blush you think; English, America how different can they be? But a lot of the British people here (they call them Expats) do nothing to deter any stereotypes I may have had of the English. That said they are some of the most genuine people I have ever meet. They are also teaching me all kinds of great English slang like; “Good on ya, minga, sod off, tickity boo, glassier, and quid.” And I am proud to say I sat through my first full football (soccer) game, or for matter sporting event period, from start to finish.
I’m having to start to put more and more thought into what to write as I’ve covered most day to day activities and believe it or not most things are losing their surprising novelty. A cultural tid-bit a lot of the older women have what I would describe as 3 short tick marks to the sides of their eyes and sometimes 3 low on their forehead. It is very subtle and not much done any more but done to beautify. Young girls who dance at the weddings will draw dots and their cheeks for similar reasons. Then both men and women will sometimes sport a rectangular scar on over their breast bones, said to keep poisons from passing into the body. I am unsure as to when, where or how these are actually received.
Working on starting a small library in the local primary school. But I’m hard time convincing they should actually let people use them or the paperback textbooks they already have many of which are still in plastic. I do understand their dilemma for once a long time ago I had Barbie, my only one as I was more draw to ninja turtles (I will never let my mother live down the fact that she threw them out, they will be worth a fortune someday) but it had hair gel which I never used because if I had I wouldn’t of had it anymore. It is frustrating beyond reason how the people here sell themselves short in the same way someone passing would say ‘how are you’. They are always saying please ‘help us, you must help us for we are a very poor.’ People in the states would take three jobs, and live out of a storage shed before admitting or begging such and thing. The people here are so smart and capable and they need to believe that. Perhaps some exercises in positive visualization but at any rate free shoes for Africa is over.