Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 3


Great sleep on a decent bed and a nice, quiet fan breezing through my mosquito net.  Breakfast is eggs with a bun and coffee.  We suit up and hit the road:  PAVEMENT!!! Ah, the comfort of a smooth riding surface, but it is short-lived.

Before leaving the blacktop, we take what amounts to a 4 km detour way
down to the bridge that spans the Little Scorces River.  This is possibly the longest and highest bridge in the country.

The day takes us from the sparse vegetation of flatlands gradually up to more lush vegetation.  Here, more households have goats, we see more schools, the houses are a bit more robust, and, in one one place, some kids even have North American-style clothes.

As we go through each town, kids yell, "Opotoo!" I have decided that the most gratifying thing along the ride is to make eye contact with a person, exchange smiles to break the ice, a hello and give a high five, all in about five seconds.  I don't know why, but the high five somehow contains in it a mutual recognition and encouragement that is exhilarating.

We arrive at Medina Junction.  End of day question: Do we drive a long way to Kamakwie or try to find lodging in Medina Junction (very small).  We ask around and find that there is one "guest house" in town and they don't serve food.  We decide to stay anyway.

The place is a serious dive. Dirty, nothing works, no electricity (until nightfall, when they switch on the generator, which is iffy, but at least it's not located right outside Ross' door, as has been the norm in past experience).

Augusta goes into town and buy some food and cooks it, along with some borrowed spices, on the cooking fire outside the orphanage next door.

Augusta makes a groundnut stew with beef, which we eat outside.  It is delicious.  After supper, Ross strikes up a game of hide and seek with the neighbourhood kids, orphans from next door, I suspect.  We all join in, then engage in a rousing game of tag.  The kids are nothing short of priceless.  One of them - tiny, with sprigs of braided hair coming every which way out of her head - has an infectious, riotous laugh.

Night falls and I sit outside with Augusta, who is waiting for Oumar and Essa to return from town.  Augusta is from near Moyumba, the daughter of a farmer and very poor.  She tells me stories of trusting God and Him taking care of her.  Out of the blue, she starts singing a hymn, which I don't recognize, but it gets us talking about How Great Thou Art, of which we sing a couple of verses together.

Crickets are practically deafening and we can see the orphanage's fire in the distance and hear the orphan kids fooling around and playing games.  The boys finally return from town and I retire to write this.

My bed is pretty scuzzy and I kill a handful of blackfly-sized bugs on it before lying down (fully clothed, in case that helps).  The mosquito net has large gaps.  There is a teeny breeze drifting through my net from the window as the bare light bulb overhead flickers. I might sleep with the light on tonight, so I don't have to guess or imagine what is tickling me in the night.  We knew it wasn't going to be the Ritz and hopefully this is the nadir of our accommodations
experiences!

JW

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