Molly in Africa

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life Without Water

Well not without ANY water, but it’s amazing how life continues even when water doesn’t come out of your faucets.  Let me start with a little ranting and then I’ll get to the raving…


            While I haven’t really been keeping track, I think we’ve spent 6 of the past 9 weeks without water.  Just to clarify- that means we can’t use our toilets (so we use our pit latrine out back), we can’t take showers (so we do bucket baths) and we can’t waste water (because we have to drive to closest bore hole and fill buckets and that process usually takes at least an hour). 

The last one about not wasting water has several implications: we bathe less frequently- I was on a two or three times per week schedule which was reduced to once or twice each week.  That wouldn’t have been that bad, but (until this past Thursday) it’s been over 115 degrees Fahrenheit each day.  Most of you know I sweat abnormal amounts in the states so just imagine me out on village visits under the African sun with that heat!  Dirt was burrowed in every crease and crevice of my hands and my feet were so coated in dirt & sand that my students began asking, “Madam, WHEN are going to bathe?”  Laundry also fits in here… without excess water, laundry couldn’t be a priority over drinking water.  So in these past two weeks, I’ve worn shirts 2 or 3 times in a week.  If you don’t think that’s gross you should re-read this paragraph and pay attention to the part about the heat and the amount I sweat.

            I hope that was a sufficient rant for you all.

Raving:  For the most part, I really liked not having easy access to water.  Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Trips to the borehole to get water are ALWAYS fun!  One time Sarah and I were trying to figure out the borehole norms.  Another time four of us went and were a little silly with the water.  Matty and I poured a whole bucket on Sarah- right in the face… actually right in her open mouth!  While I felt a little bad that she experienced that drowning feeling for a moment, mostly I thought it was hysterical!

2. Bathing is much more rewarding when your skin changes colors as a result (brownish/red- bright white).

 3. I’m learning how to carry buckets on my head (very Malawian) and that’s been a fun challenge.

 4. Pooping and peeing in a pit latrine is all I did in Uganda so that wasn’t uncomfortable… actually oddly familiar.

 5. It humbled me to see the women, men and children at the borehole who always have to walk to this common source and wait for their turn and then carry their buckets (usually on their heads) and jugs back to their homes.

We got water back last week and my laundry was washed on Friday.  Taking a shower with water pressure is an appreciated cleansing experience now and I’m grateful for my new-found enjoyment of being clean. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama's Good Luck Ax

(Sorry this post is a bit overdue)

Most of you probably spent your time on Tuesday, 4 November the same way I did- sitting in the one room in the 2km radius that has a functional satellite tv with two other Americans and their large bottle of water (since it's ridiculously hot here), four Malawians and a Kenyan with an ax.  "Why the ax?" you might ask.  Well, this particular Kenyan (Br. Adoka) thought that having something from Kenya with him would help him properly cheer Obama into presidency.  He called it Obama's Good Luck Ax.  Below is a photo of Adoka and I with our respective flags in celebration of Obama's win. :)

We DID have the chance to watch and celebrate Obama's victory over here.  Matty, Andy and I woke up at 4am on Wednesday morning here to watch as the polls were closing and the votes were coming in.  My parents called at 6:30am, right after McCain had given his speech, and were able to chat about all the election news... including the fact that Dave and Maryjoy were down at Grant Park to be a part of Obama's victory night!

It was a great day here... my co-workers were incredibly supportive of me and my joy for the news!  They actually cheered when I walked into the staff room that morning because I had already spoken with some of them on the phone that morning to share the news.  People in Malawi were excited about Obama's victory in general (not just people who knew Americans) and it was cool to be a part of the celebration in this part of the world. :)

I have two or three more blogs to post in the next two days but the internet is acting up today so I'll try again tomorrow.