Thursday, March 14, 2013

mountain views

I call your attention, dear reader, to the February 2013 issue of National Geographic.  Specifically to two articles.  One is titled “The Healing Power of Venom” the other, “Africa’s Passion for Soccer.”  I especially like the Editor’s Note on page 4 where he compares black mambas to rattlesnakes: “I grew up with rattlesnakes, but a mamba makes a rattlesnake seem like an earthworm by comparison.” 
The real interest in “The Healing Power of Venom” is, for me, the pictures.  Check them out.  Most of the snakes, or their near relatives, the article mentions, with the exception of sea snakes, are found here.  

National Geographic demonstrates its American roots in the title of the article “Africa’s Passion for Soccer.”  Most of the authors refer to it as football.  It is a short piece about the popularity of football in Africa.  Its centerpiece is a montage of homemade footballs.  I like the article because it mentions Togo, many of the places mentioned I have been to or are near me, and it accurately, if somewhat patronizingly, depicts football in Africa.  This article could have been written about the scene any day of the week outside my window.  

Track pads do not handle dripping sweat very well  

 This morning d and I hiked up the triangle mountain across from Binaparba.  A cellular company is building an antenna array about halfway up the mountain.  So they have laid a nice road up to the site.  It was a nice walk.  We got up to the plateau as the sun was rising over mt Bassar (Bina is on the west side of it).  We could see Binaparba, tucked up against the bulk of the mountain, along with its sister villages.  Teak forests look like gray-green squares.  Yam fields like something out of a sci-fi movie landscape.  It has rained here a couple of times in the past 2 weeks, so the mountains and the landscape have a new green tinge to them.  We could see the mountains of Kabou, still only half visible in the morning mist.  Off to the west we saw the mountains around Bangali, Dimori, and Bapure.  

Saturday morning I biked into Kouka on a quest for some antibiotics.  I dropped my lit picot on my toe Wed morning.  Basically ripped the skin off of the corner of it.  By Saturday, it hurt bad enough that I knew it was infected. Antibiotics, especially amoxicillin, are readily available here.  Women sell them with other drugs in the marches all the time.  I do not, however, really trust antibiotic packets that have probably been sitting out in the sun for the past month.  So I went to the pharmacy.  The pharmacist had voyaged to Kara.  Next I went to the hospital, first stopping to say hi to the director.  The hospital pharmacy was out.  Then I went to the catholic monastery (nunnery?).  It was only the second time I’d been back there.  The magnolia trees were blossoming.  It was verdant and quiet.  I wandered around until someone, the gardener I think, asked me what I wanted.  A woman came out, unlocked their pharmacy, and I got drugs.  My toe feels much better now.  

I have read that one function of memory is selective amnesia.  Rather, our brains tend to block out, or selectively edit, memories of bad/hard/stressful times. I find this especially true here.  I remember hot seasons past for example.  I remember dripping sweat, drugging myself to sleep, etc.  But the prickle of heat rash, the dehydration headaches, the strong desire to be any place but the pressure cooker that is my house, all seems new but familiar.  Once it happens, I remember it happening, but I realize that I have forgotten how it actually feels.  Since this is my third hot season I felt well equipped to handle it.  And I am.  Intellectually.  I forgot, however, about the creeping insanity that nibbles the edges of your consciousness as hot season progresses.  I forgot about how the chronic lack of sleep erodes my temper and my patience.  I forgot how the inability to escape, short of going to Kara and a/c, the stifling, pervasive, gagging heat corrupts my self-control, warps my temperament, and turns my brain into a swirling crock of steaming shit.  

It poured yesterday afternoon.  A big thunderstorm came over the mountain and it rained for about 2 hours.  Then, last night, d’s neighbor told me that lightening killed his “grand frere”.  what do you say?  besides the standard "du courage"

How do you know when a bush taxi is full?  Its never full.  You can always cram in more people. 

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