Monday, April 28, 2008

Region 5 celebrates its independence

Check out part of the long march past the regional governor. I wonder who the Gambian military band is homesick for.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wetting the Bed

I’m in Kombo now, as I usually am when typing these things: down for a workshop, a school visit, and the new health group’s swearing-in…and in the meantime, enjoying the variety of dairy products (cheese, yogurt and ice cream, all in one day!) and the weather. Here, there is a breeze for most of the day, and it even gets cold at night. The island is a different story. “Mind-fryingly hot” is one way to put it. Another barometer: I think the flamingo is melting. (Happy belated St. Patty's, by the way.)

I can’t really tell you what I do between the hours of 2 and 6 every day, because the linguistic and cognitive parts of my brain are pretty much shut down then, maybe so the lizard part can make sure I’m sweating enough. There’s not much you can really do when it’s a hundred-and-I-don’t-even-want-to-know degrees out (and in), but I’ve come up with a few small ways of dealing with the upcountry oven:
1. Shade. After some searching, I’ve found a tree that regularly has girls sitting underneath it – a minor triumph in the land of women in the kitchen (or at the pump, the market or the rice fields), dudes in the shade. The hair-braiding teenagers aren’t my favorite company, and they don’t have the tiny radios and enormous draughts boards usually found under the men’s trees, but at least there’s a breeze. Sometimes. And visiting other volunteers at their sites has reminded me that it’s good to be out in the neighborhood.
That said, sometimes you just have to be inside and away from other people. In which case, it’s good to try the following:
2. Upon entering, immediately strip down to no more than a wrap skirt and bra.
3. Take a bucket bath.
4. Powder.
5. Take another one.
6. Powder some more.
7. Lie on the floor and moan.
8. If all else fails, wrap whatever it is you want to keep cool in a wet cloth. This works pretty well on my water bottle, water filter, and head covering. So when I woke up in the middle of the night, sweaty, miserable, and unable to move outside (guest on the new bamboo bed), what did I do? Well, dunk my top sheet in a bucket and get underneath it, obviously. I expected to have dreams about the Titanic or something, but no. Slept like an amphibious baby. If I can find or construct a towel big enough to cover my house, and then hire a team of small boys to throw buckets of water on it at regular intervals throughout the day, I think I’ll be good to go.