Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So this is the last post before I leave the stunningly gorgeous continent on which I am currently residing: a post which comes at a time when I'm sitting up rubbing my head saying 'where am I, how did I get here, and where did the last 2 months go?'. That's just one side though. On the other hand, when I think about certain American things, I instantly know that I've been here for what seems like a very long time. Anyway, I've gained a healthy respect for Jennifer, and the work she's doing here, learned that patience is indeed a virtue; while any suppositions that I had any strains of said virtue went sliding down the tube at an incredible velocity, learned that the human digestive system can stand up to some amazing tests, learned that my status as an EMT proves only that I know less than nothing when it comes to anything too far from an ambulance and the supplies it carries, to use the words of an ER nurse with whom I had the privilege of working, and watched in awe as each of my little 'bubbles' was rudely burst, one by one, and reality took their place. In short, I've discovered a very small slice of life in Africa.
Was the trip worth it? Totally. Would I do it again? Sure. I'd change a few things, but I'd do it again. Do I get excited at the thought of the States? Absolutely.
To change the topic to recent happenings, I had an ...interesting... experience yesterday: I decided to hike back to a lake in the bush to get some pictures. So here goes Caleb, all geared up for a bush hike: Machete, backpack with general expedition supplies, 2 litres of Mazo, knife, hiking boots; everything I should need right? Well, with the exception of chest waders, yeah. So I find the lake, decide to walk all the way around it to get various pictures, and with that plan in mind, proceed down the nice little trail that runs along the one side of it. All was going well until the path ended. No big deal, hey? Walking through unblazed bush shouldn't be a problem... Should be kinda cool actually. And it was! Absolutely beautiful area. So after hiking for a while, I choose a spot to sit down for a minute and just take in the view. Good idea, because just after I sit down, a small crocodile runs out of the weeds and into the water, and I was hoping to see one. Excitement gave way to anxiety a moment later when I started feeling the ants. Yeah. Lots of 'em. And these aren't anything like American ants; I decided that after the first bite, and the decision kind of came rushing out in a yell. Fortunately, the top of my combat boots was confusing them for some reason, so the majority of them were staying on the boots, but enough made it over the top to wake me up. The next step was to head a mile or so away from the lake, in an attempt to avoid the deep swamp that blocked my way for as far as I could see, and after discovering that the swamp was not going to end, I had to choose between going back, or crossing the swamp. I took the more intriguing option, and prepared to cross. It was painstakingly slow moving between clumps of grass in order to keep myself on the surface, but manageable. That is, until I had moved a couple hundred yards out, and it suddenly got much deeper, and the grass clumps were scattered farther and farther apart. Inevitably, I finally missed one and sunk almost to my waist before I stopped myself, at which point I decided, heck with it; I'm wading across. Moving was slightly faster after that, despite the heavy mud, and eventually I reached the other side. So, I complete the circuit of the lake, take some snap shots, and strike out for the road. Now, I took a bus out of town to near the spot where I intended to enter the bush, dropped there, and hiked in, with the intent of doing the same in reverse order at the end of my little expedition. Great idea, but the bus drivers didn't think so when they saw me emerge from the woods and prepare to board. Can't say I really blame them either, so, out of options, i walked all the way back. btw, everyone i passed on the way back thought it was absolutely hilarious to see a white guy covered in mud, smelling like a swamp, and clutching a camera, limping down the side of the road. And I didn't.
oh, and apparently I'm not a very dedicated photographer, because from the swamp on out, i forgot to take any pictures.
Anyway, that's pretty much the latest. 2 more weeks, and they're going fast.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Some of you said you were looking forward to another update because you were interested, and some of you said it only to be polite. Either way, a fresh glimpse of events here was requested, for which reason I've decided to do that which I hate most; taking a moment to think of a blog/FB post. Nothing of any terrible importance has transpired since my last note, just the steady construction of the church building, slowly defying gravity as the walls rise, block by block; shaking a concrete fist in the face of that ever present and oft despised law of nature.
I've discovered a new principle of governance which I've considered discussing with the president when I return: that of rule by chiefs. You see, a chief here is like a demi-king, ruling his domain with a sort of limited monarchy very similar to that traditional and historically predominant form of government, varied only in that he is ultimately answerable to the government of the country if he commits an act that could be considered outrageous. Oh, but our governmental system was developed as an improvement on that idea, introducing a form of accountability through checks and balances that tie the hands of the ruling personage, retarding the advance of the corruption that naturally comes with the rule of man over his fellow beings: yes, this is, of course, true, but the positive side would be that the solving of legal difficulties can be significantly expedited by the lack of appeals to higher levels of judgment and the formal processes that drag out court action. In less words, the chief makes a decision when he deems it necessary, and no one argues. That's it. End of discussion.
So pretty much, we could do a Dr. Schulz cleanse on the legal system if this idea were adopted for a short period of time. All the clogged, long drawn out cases that in our comparison would be called toxins and whatever other terrible and disgusting contents you never knew about until you read the ad. for the cleanse, would growl and boil for awhile, and then come spewing out, bringing great relief to the tired system that has for so long endured their presence.
Ok, so I'm kidding a little (I've got to clarify that, because some of you consider my political ideas weird enough that you would believe I was serious) and whether or not you wanted to hear about that, you now know a little about the 'legal' system here.
Moving on, the next thing I'd like to say, is that I've walked more in the last (almost) 2 months, than I've walked in my entire life, ever since I gave up rolling for the more socially acceptable means of transporting one's self. I'd like to go on a little rant about that subject, but taking into consideration the fact that you fat, lazy Americans that hop in the car whenever you want to go to the mailbox probably don't want to hear it, I'll give up that idea, and just sit in a corner and think happy thoughts about the time when going to the store, or any place else i needed or wanted to go involved jumping in my truck, and exercising the hands and feet only to perform the basic functions of driving.
Speaking (or typing) of walking brings to mind another thing i wanted you to know about. The people here walk V E R Y S L O W L Y , picking their way along as if they were walking towards certain doom and wanted to delay arriving at that point of terror for as long as humanly possible. Seriously, I thought there was a limit to how slow a person could walk, but I quickly discovered how ignorantly mistaken my thinking was when I came here. Let me quote Thor Ramsey as best as I can from memory here: Look lady, you stand where he was, and then I'll stand where you were, and then he'll stand where I was... that's how a line works!! Come on! I want at least the illusion of progress..." Ok, I probably slaughtered that, but you get the point. And then, after being so obstinately slow for ever, they have the gall to growl at you when you squeeze by as you pass dozens of them in a single stride, trying to get to the next bus so that you can pick a seat in which you will not have someone sitting on your lap; or attempting to be somewhere even remotely close to 'on time'; or just to stretch out a little after shuffling along with the crowd for what seems like days, packed into the relatively short span of what's probably closer to minutes.
ok, there's another little peek into life here; I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this, because I'm not sure when, or even if, I will create another one of these.