Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Flag of Guinea  ,
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I am writing this in my hut at a moment of pure contentment. This, as you know, is rare and therefore very special. Since my blogs have been rather depressing lately I decided now would be a good time to write. Don't worry you sadists out there, I have plenty of pain and horror in store for you. But let's start with why I'm happy.  I am sitting next to my new stove drinking a freshly brewed cup of pomegranate raspberry green tea.  How is this possible, you ask? Mail run, of course! I'm not sure I've explained this properly but the Guinean postal system is nonexistent.  Things come to the capital and stay there.  So once a month, the Peace Corps picks up all our stuff from a post office box and drops off anything we've received that month.  And since I haven't gotten anything in 2 months, this month was my month.  Huge thanks to Mom and Dad, Cindy and George, Katie and family and Judy.  You've made my month! Now the stove came from Sarah, who has a slight fear of fire, and knows that I am somewhat of a pyromaniac. (Her stove has a tendency of shooting out flaming gas and living in a straw roofed hut, she has a reasonable fear. My thought is that if I burn down my hut, it will at least kill all the bed bugs, right?)  Which brings me to the second novelty in my house; it has no bed. That's right, I chucked it.  Well to be specific, I gave the infested mattress to a neighbor, with her full knowledge of the infestation and the frame is currently drying in the sun after I varnished it.  As getting a new mattress is quite expensive and complicated I am sleeping in my mosquito proof hammock suspended from my bamboo roof beams until, at the earliest, mid-July.  It's amazing how much room no bed frees in my hut.
The only negative thing about mail run coming today is that it was a day early and my garden project with David was not yet finished...or really started.  After two month of planning, meeting, talking, negotiating, hyping, I thought my village was ready to plant two Moringa gardens, one at the school and one at the Health Center.  I confirmed with village authorities that we would begin at 8AM at the school and that's where the workers (children) should meet us.  I had bought 20 kilos of rice for lunch and we had all the seeds.  All they needed to do was show up and bring veggies to make the sauce (by far the cheapest part of the meal). David and I got there at 7:45 and began making raised beds. 8:00 rolled around, no one, 8:15, 9:30, 9:00, 9:15 someone from the Health Center drops by to see how its going. I'm sweating and upset.  She gets the director of the school and the sous-prefet who are quick to defend themselves and demand that I excuse them, "Il faut m'excuse." Literally, you must excuse me, no pleases about it.  I'm so upset and frustrated I start to cry.  I try to hide it with my sunglasses but the sous-prefet sees through my guise and tells me not to cry! So we go home.  Better luck tomorrow at the Health Center.  All I had asked of them was that they build a fence around the area they wanted to garden.  I gave them two weeks.  They started cutting wood yesterday.  So we did not plant today either.  On the bright side we did have more workers.  Of course I just recruited them off the street but workers are workers.  We made the beds and that was all. Then David left with the mail run.  I was warned that this would probably happen.  Lots of agreeing and then no follow through but being warned didn't make it any easier.  Am I supposed to spend two years helping where for all intents and purposed it appears my help is unwanted?  I have learned a lot through the failure of this project though so hopefully I'll be able to adjust my strategy for the next one.  And it might not be a complete failure, maybe just postponed until my village gets in gear.
And now for the true horror story.  It begins in Kankan, the day after I wrote my last blog.  I began feeling nauseous. I just wanted to sleep. This feeling accompanied with diarrhea lasted into the next day.  I felt no hunger, I actually felt full even after I hadn't eaten in 24 hours.  The next day same but this day I rose early with David to get a taxi home.  I decided to eat a bowl of rice since I hadn't eaten in 36 hours. Bad idea. I could just feel it sitting in my stomach all day.  All day we waited for a taxi from 8AM to 4PM when our minibus was finally full.  David and I had reserved places in the front seat by the window so I could throw up if needed. As we were about to get in we noticed a military man (with a large gun, of course) was waiting for us to squeeze in the middle while he got the window.  David politely explained that I was sick and would it be possible for me to have the window. No, he said, that would be impossible. Did we actually expect him to sit in the middle?? My mouth dropped open and as I pushed past him I said fine, I'll just vomit all over you, that's fine with me.  He didn't reply but disappeared for a few minutes.  He came back with the driver who told us we would need to move to the back of the bus (there's not even an aisle, you have to climb of rows and people). No, I said, we reserved these places at 8AM, we were the first ones on this stupid minibus! He knows but there were "superiors" who needed the front seat.  So as I hauled my sick butt over 4 rows of seats I gave that officer a very loud piece of my mind, in English, which thankfully he didn't understand.  But he knew I was not happy. Yes, Dad, I sure showed him (I can actually hear you saying that in my head right now).  I was crammed in the back corner seat, conveniently over the tire, with my knees to my chin and my head out the window, angry tears streaming down my face.  And when I thought it couldn't get any worse, our minibus decides to break down every 30 km or so.  Just when you think it actually cannot get any worse, it always rains, at least in the movies, and my life here could truly be one.  But just like any good movie it ended with all the main characters, if not completely intact mentally, at least alive.  We made it home six hours after leaving and I threw up the rice I'd eaten that morning and got some much needed sleep.  I am 5 lbs lighter than I was a week and half ago.  Seriously, if you're interested in losing weight quickly contract intestinal parasites, which is what I've decided I have.  So that's about it. Now I'm going plant some veggie seeds I got in the mail. Thanks again! Peace.   
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