Humanitarian Adjustments

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I’ve planted my feet back in the African soil.

A mundane post about the struggles of returning to Mali.

I undertook a thirty eight hour marathon from my home to Bamako, Mali, West Africa. One day to recuperate and do my business in Bamako. Then a long bus ride out to my region the following day.

I thought I was dong fine. I slept until 7:30 AM the next day in Bamako, and I felt great all day. I even thought the temperatures were not so bad at the time.

However, the following day, with a 4:30 AM awake time to pack and then arrive at the bus station….. well.  Seriously, the last one hundred Kilometers to my town, I could barely hold my head up.

I was wide awake at the edge of my region because the Police took my passport. They made me go into the building. With security how it is in Mali these days, officials are trying to keep tabs on who is where, and doing what in the country.  Fair enough.

Once inside the station It was the usual game that requires the usual response. Say nothing, greet, be quiet, speak when spoken to, be polite, avoid all hints of sarcasm, and Never show you are annoyed.

An american friend was up from her village to the south. So offered me a ride to my apartment. By the time I carried my six small crates and packages out of the bus stop, and onto her truck, four of which were 50 lbs each, then unloaded the same crates in the hot afternoon sun, which involved carrying each crate into the building, then up two flights of stairs.

Man, I was ready to collapse. I was dripping wet from head to toe. I am sure I smelled wonderful.

I was dehydrated as well. I drink no water since 4:30 AM. If you have to go on an African bus, tough luck, as they don’t stop often on the bus. So I avoid the problem by not drinking.

Anyway, at the house/office, I set into unpacking things I needed. Got my mechanic to bring his friends over to carry my Motorcycle down the stairs so it is no longer in my living room. Yes, two flights of stairs. I drove the motorcycle to get a few groceries so I would have something for breakfast the next day. My registration and Licence plate were in for the new bike too. Yes, and after only seven months. At least it was not a fake card like the last bike fiasco.

Our place was locked up so long that it was cooking inside. I cooked all afternoon.

We rarely use the AC  because it is so hot on the western side of our apartment, where our AC units are mounted, that they actually will not work most of the day. The temps rise to 50 degrees Celsius in the direct sun there, and an AC unit will not work above 38. Later in the evening they will begin to work a little.

However, at 6:15 I turned on the AC and it was doing a little something, and I needed the reprieve.  I collapsed into bed thinking that was it for the night. I had nothing left to give.

However, around 10:30 PM I woke up a dripping sound. The drain was plugged on the AC, so the water was running down the inside wall. I had to shut it off. I put the fan on full speed and was out for the night, me as naked as a jay bird to keep cool.

The following day I was able to get my new Orange internet hooked up. The old system was slow, and Orange was turning their nose up at working on it last term. So I bought the new wireless router system that works off the cell towers. Monthly cost is no more, 4 times the speed. Also, If travelling to another town, you can take your cell router with you, plug it in, and it works wherever you are in Mali. AMAZING!

Got the house mostly unpacked, and our part-time hired cleaning girl scrubbed everything for me.  But again, my energy level was way down. I minded the heat so much more in Sikasso than Bamako.

I was at the stage where I was gulping water all day long, but always thirsty, never satisfied. Yet, even after drinking such large volumes of fluids, I did not pee all day. This is a sure sign you are not keeping up. I had to guzzle down more and more fluids. I was feeling much better as a result.

There is always an adjustment phase, but I have never felt this way before. There is always this day that some switch flips in your body. All of a sudden you are no longer sweating as much, and that constant thirst goes away. You wake up one day realizing at dinner time, “Hey, I have not had anything to drink today,” yet, you do not sense any great thirst.

When we first came to Mali it took two weeks for the switch to flip the first time. However, after repeated years here, the flipped switch arrives more quickly.

Glad to be back…. Had some meetings about how we will begin activities this week.  This will be one honking busy term with the Drip Irrigated food security work, and a water filtration project.

Combined, it will touch about 5000 people.

 

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