Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On the Mend

I’m sitting in the cutest café eating a bacon and avocado panini.  I meant to take a picture of it just to prove it, but once it arrived, well let’s just say I got so distracted I forgot.  It doesn’t look nearly as appetizing any more.  But it sure is good!

As some of you know I’ve been pretty sick on and off the past few weeks.  I had strep throat twice earlier this year and it came back in full force.  Twice.  In about 3 weeks.  Then last week Sunday I was visited by a pretty terrible bunch of stomach parasites.  I’m not sure what was worse – the symptoms of the parasites or the poison I had to consume for three days to kill them.  All in all, I spent another five days in bed, in the village,  dreaming about my return to the U.S. and wondering if I would ever be able to eat again.

My bed - and home last week

As you can tell by the panini, I survived and I’m eating again.  Thank God!  For a minute there I thought I might end up dehydrated, emaciated and dead.  Ok, maybe not dead.  But it wasn’t fun.

So, I decided to head into Iringa Town for a few good meals, a hot shower and some decent internet access.  I’ve been busy working on a research paper for school and haven’t had the time to get much done in the village.  My break here in Iringa has been amazing and refreshing.  I’m staying in this really cute little guesthouse that has a café and craft center and is run exclusively by people with different disabilities.  We even write out our orders because the waiters and cooks are deaf.  Pretty cool!  You can check out the place here:  www.neemacrafts.com

I start my journey back to the village tomorrow.  And when I say journey – it is exactly that.  An hour and a half ride on a paved road from Iringa to Mafinga where I catch a “bus” that takes me on the 4-hour ride through the tea fields to the village of Ikan’gombe.  The bus, as they call them here, is an old, dented up, psychedelic-looking thing, with cracks all over the windshield and a lot of black exhaust bursting out of the tailpipe.  It broke down twice on my way here and word from the village makes it sound like its condition has worsened considerably since the weekend.    Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches here, but in this case, I really need the bus to leave on time and arrive in the village at the scheduled 6pm arrival time.  That gives me just enough time to make it up and down the muddy, hilly path, through the forest and over the river before dark.  Here’s hoping…

Here are a few pics so you can see my home that I’m heading back to:

View from my bedrooms into living/dining area

"Kitchen" - the blue thermos is for my hot shower water

Stove, burner, hot water heater and oven


Morris - my buddy in the village

Mama Lillian and Angela - the two cooks at the main house and the best part of my days here

Last Sunday, the day I got sick, I went on a little big of a journey with Evodia, a Form 4 (senior) girl who did an interview with me for H20 for Life.  H20 for Life funded the water projects at our school here and wanted to hear from one of the students how it has improved life for them.  Evodia is such a smart girl, full of joy and ambition.  She is the student academic leader and helps kids with their homework.  She hopes to return to VSI as a science teacher once she completes university.  Our walk through the forest and down the hills was a bit of a hike – and of course, the path that goes down, must come up again.  The only difference is that here it usually goes up and down a few more times after that!  Flip-flops were not the wisest choice for the day.  We did finally make it to our destination though and Evodia proudly showed me the well the students had dug.  Now that I live in a home with no running water, I am much more appreciative of wells.  I’m also extremely appreciative of the schools girls we hire to bring us water back from the well.  That was a LONG hike I would not want to take with a buck of water on my head – especially knowing I am going to need at least 3 more buckets just to make it through a day of cooking, bathing, laundry and bathroom visits!

Evodia at the well the students dug

Me at the spring leading to the well

Storm rolling in on our walk back from the well

Not much else to report as of right now.  My illnesses put me out of commission for a bit, but I’m ready to get back to work.  Thanks to so many of you for your prayers, messages and emails while I was sick!

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