It's been a long time! That's something that people here say even if you saw them last week. I'm not sure exactly what the cultural basis is for it, but I'm always hearing it.
I don’t think I really got nearly effusive enough about what happened for me with Christmas, so I’m making up for it. To all of you who sent anything, you are why I’m able to get up and charge through every day now. You are why I didn’t wilt after five months living with parasites. (I feel a little more free to discuss now that it’s over, and it very much seems to be over. What an experience.) You are the reason that I get to live large and have adventures. And to all of you who spent half of my monthly stipend on postage (I get ~D4200, more or less equal to $150), jeez louise do I owe you big time.
It’s now early March, and I’m still sitting on a trunk and a half worth of goodies. Scrubbers, soaps, batteries, clif bars, snack foods, I’m a volunteer king here. When my pals come to visit, they come to love each and every one of you almost as much as I do. I never have to face bread and peanut paste if I don’t want to. Actually, peanut paste, my staple all through Ramadan, hasn’t been found in my diet since January. Seriously, it was way too much stuff, especially after I just got a package from Charles and Diane! So, please know how much I appreciate it even though I’ve failed to harp on it sufficiently until now.
The internet is a perishable commodity here, and it has been spoiled by generator issues at the internet cafe and by a failure to pay the bills at the high school. When I first asked them, they said that it was the phone company's fault, and now we are struggling to establish what happened and who can fix it. Well, I am struggling to get anything to happen, the people here at the high school are struggling to do something, and Gamtel (the phone company) is apparently struggling to get to work at all. C'est la vie.
Life here is grand right now. I'm healthy again, seem to feel stronger and need to eat less, and have more margin for dealing with the various events here. For example, yesterday I played in a basketball tournament (we won, due mostly to my precision passing and failure to run across half-court for offense more often than not) but it was during the afternoon, and probably over 100 degrees the whole time. I'm a bit lost on temperature in degrees these days. It's hot enough so that if you sit on a metal bench that's been in the shade all day, it feels hot through your clothes. But, it's completely managable these days. May and June may be a different story.
Saturday night we were even out partying until late, and I drank too much beer, then we went to the lumo in the morning and got a bit dehydrated. This past weekend was the volunteer visit for the group that's currently in training, and I had one guy with me and Woman and her site mate in Soma each had one as well. The four of them came up with a pair of German volunteers who work for the World Food Program, and we hung out with a Lebanese man and a South African who work on the road building projects. It was an ex-pat weekend, and we had a great time.
Wednesday I'm headed down to Kombo to work on my solar project, to get details for my upcoming trip to Ghana nailed down, and to say goodbye to the woman from Korean who’s been living in my compound. She’s been here about two months, and she’s due to go back to the UK, graduate from her program and head home after two years away. It’s been great having another true English speaker in the compound, and someone who sees the culture from the outside. I have a lot of respect for her and her ability to come here and work and learn so much. Thankfully, she’s leaving before the heat gets to kill us, and she’s invited me to Korea, so maybe I’ll go see where Toby used to live and the Lee family and all of that. Who knows?
I just put up the first post I had ready to go, so hopefully this will get up as well. It’s gotten to be fun to use the internet this way, where it’s more of a crapshoot if things will happen and it’s like winning the lottery when you get everything done.
I’ve moved outside more and more recently, especially at night. Today I woke up on my outdoor bamboo bed for morning prayer – a first – and was cold! I only took a sheet to sleep with, and may need a towel or something tonight. It’s great! I’m already thinking about getting a bigger bed out there (this one is a single, and I hang off a little much). That and more baths are central features of the return of the heat. But, I’m doing well with it so far, and like I said, May and June are going to be a different story.
There are rumors of electricity floating around. Bansang – a town between Brikama Ba and Basse for those of you with maps and affinities for the letter B – now has electricity for a couple hours one out of every three days. According to the rumor mill. It’s the only place outside of Kombo like that. (Except for our dear leader’s village, which always has 24-hour electricity). (Not that he lives there.) And there was a minute of electricity in Pakalinding, where Woman lives, last week. All the lights turned on in her house for the first time in two plus years. She thought it was on fire at first. Hers is one of two or three Peace Corps houses that I know are wired for power but don’t have it any more. I have installed a light and outlet that get power from the generator and potentially would get it from Nawek (power/water utility) if they turned on. Speaking of Nawek, I haven’t been able to get clean water for three days, due to them running for a briefer time than usual or, as of today, not running at all. Apparently they ran out of diesel. Insert sarcasm…
And speaking of running out of stuff, the generator here has apparently run out of life. Actually, they say it’s overheating, and is going to have to be shut down for the night in five minutes. So, I probably won’t get to post this today.
But maybe I will!