Friday, August 19, 2011

Blue Vinyl Brown

This dog that lives at Karen’s house gnawed off the buckle on one of my Chacos. This is dire. I’m not kidding.

During the past week the weather has been overcast and rainy. This is awesome, although not for my garden. Sunshine, as well as water, is apparently necessary for plant life. Right now it’s raining. So much for going to look for street food for lunch.

July felt like that it lasted forever. That’s probably because I spent most of it traveling. One of my stops was in Kabou and then, the next evening, Kara, for the post visit parties for the new CHAP/SED stage (Community Health and Aids Prevent/Small Enterprise Development cohort). Kara gets 5 new Volunteers this stage—3 CHAP and 2 SED. Post visit is when the new people come up and spend a week at post before going back down south to complete their training. The end of the week sees welcome parties thrown by the current Volunteers.

Last weekend, the new people got to post, except for the ones who stayed down south to improve their French. My friend, and cluster mate, Emily left her post in Namon on August 5th. Her replacement, Abby, got there that night. So I am officially no longer the ‘new kid’ in my cluster. Abby will only be the new kid until November when the new people from the next GEE/NRM stage get to post and Karen is (hopefully) replaced.

Two of my good friends COSed this month—Emily and Matt. Another round of people will COS (Close of Service) in November, including Karen. It’s a constant cycle of apprehensive hellos and sad goodbyes. You hope that the new people will be as cool as the awesome people that they are replacing . . . unless you don’t like your neighbors, in which case you just hope that the new people are cool.

So last Saturday I was covering for Karen at meeting for the trash collection project in Guerin-Kouka. The meeting didn’t really happen, but that’s another story. Anyway, during the sitting around and discussing the lack of a meeting time, one of the trash collectors came and said that one of his colleagues was in the hospital and could the trash collection bureau help out with the bills? This meant that I, with the President of the bureau, went to the hospital to see what was up.

It was the first time that I’d been to the hospital in Kouka. I bike past it all the time, and all I knew was that it had an actual ambulance parked out in front. Turns out that’s the most modern thing about it. I walked into the guy’s room. The first thing that I noticed was that none of the windows had screens. The walls were cruddy. The guy was laying on a gurney covered with a sheet. It looked like the vinyl was blue at one point in time, now it is brown. The room smelled of something too. When we got there, the guy was asleep, but there was this loud, deep rattle in his chest that I hope I never hear again. His family and the President started arguing, loudly, because the family wanted the Bureau to pay for the hospital bills. During the course of the argument, the guy woke up. He had wet himself and his wife brought in this stagnant bedpan for him to use to complete his business. We went out in the hallway where the yelling continued. After a while the President stormed off. I gave the family 2 mille and left. The yelling was in local language, and I just wanted to be out of the place. The money didn’t do much good though. The guy was dead the next day.

In other news, I lost my phone last week. It bounced out of my backpack on the way from Nampoch to Kouka. Luckily for me, someone from Nampoch, from my cartier no less, saw it and claimed it from someone else who also saw it. I got my phone back the next day, but the interim, before I knew that someone had found it, was terrible. It is sad how much I depend on a little hunk of plastic and rare-earth metals.

It takes 68 downward strokes on the pump to fill a 15 liter bucket.

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