Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 4

May 4

Well, leaving the light on in the room only attracted bugs, so I turn it off and have a pretty decent sleep.
The day is HOT and windless and hilly.  Cycling for long periods over rough terrain in such conditions for the past three days can be hazardous to one's posterior, but an adjustment to my bike seat position and angle brings huge relief.
Today's journey takes us across the Little Scorces River again by a family-run, hand-powered, one-vehicle ferry.  Arriving there ahead of the pickup, we yuk it up with the sons of the owner, sitting in the shade and taking in the beautiful, lush valley surroundings.  The ride across is good fun, too. Because the water is low, a couple of the sons have to stop pulling us along by cable, jump in, and push the ferry from the water.
Emerging from the ferry, is a long, steep, (very hot) climb out of the valley - a good 15 minutes cranking away in first gear and drip, drip, dripping sweat.  The rest of the way to Kamakwie is beautiful, but wrought with misinformation about how much distance remains. Between that, and the intense African sun, our mental focus is blurred and progress is slow.
We receive word by cell phone that the Paramount Chief (The tribal authority in a chiefdom that covers something like a sixth of the country. This fellow holds an MBA from a university in Washington, DC) is waiting for us in Kamakwie.
We pull over at a police checkpoint where we are informed that, "Kamakie is just over there," pointing up a long hill.  Okay, let's do this.  We chug up the hill and at the top, a guy on a dirt bike on the side of the road gives me a huge grin and says, "I have been waiting for you!  I will take you to see the Paramount Chief!  Follow me."
We wind through the town and finally we stop at a large hut.  "Now you will greet the Paramount Chief and you will bless him. Then I will take you to your accommodations."
??? Hmmm, this ought to be interesting.
We are escorted, dripping with sweat and wanting desperately to avoid breaching protocol, into a huge hut, with a wooden throne and a large man seated on it.  With an equally large smile, he puts down his cell phone, rises to his feet and announces, "I am so pleased to have you in my chiefdom!  You are most welcome!  This is a very noble thing you
are doing here."
After some small talk and name dropping - he has known my sister, Bev and my brother-in-law, Paul for years from CAUSE Canada's work in the area before the war - we are escorted (up some more hills) to the Wesleyan missionary hospital compound where foreign doctors stay.
Hot, bugs, occasional electricity... I am settling in to the groove with the whole accommodations thing.  In fact, after hearing some stories of Ross' experiences in Ethiopia during the famine, I am determined to appreciate these accoms more.
After a delicious goat stew (Thank you, Augusta!), we meet up with Paul, Larry and eventually the Paramount Chief at the Chief's sister's restaurant.  Their generator is on the fritz, so the place is in the dark half the time, but neighbourhood gives me a sense of small town African nightlife.


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