Dehydration, Dust and Dirt

I have been very busy running around the Sikasso bush region building the capacity of our development work.  I have not been around our base very often, so the girl who cleans here has not been able to sweep or scrub for four days now.

The dust from the harmattan has settled on everything. Would you believe that the floor in my office actually had the window and doors closed most of the time, and I can still write “Hi” on the floor after four days.  Should see the outside stairs and entry to our office.  Yuck!

I feel very badly for our cleaner today.

I had an awesome, and yet, an awesomely bad day in the bush yesterday.

Awesome in that we have two more families with drought season veggies from our drip irrigated vegetable garden work (Man Of Peace Development Page). If these women perform well, they will lead another fifty families, over 500 people, into the healthy benefits of drought season vegetables, just south of the Sahara.

The day was also awesome in that we supplied two other families, a total of twenty seven people,  with clean pathogen free water. They were drinking slop, pure slop. I don’t know how they keep their kids healthy. Alas, that is the point, they are not healthy.



The day turned awesomely bad, in that I nearly had a heat stroke.

What an embarrassing and humbling experience.  It surprised me, because it was not a overly hot day. In fact, it was kind of a cooler harmattan dusty day most of the morning and later in the afternoon.

It might have been a combination of not having eaten, and not drinking enough water. I don’t really know.

However, the sun came out at noon just as we began the work on the gardens. It did get hot quickly, and I started feeling badly near the end. I drank a liter of water, which is all I had with me.

Foolishly, I did not bring more water, nor did I have my water filter bottle with me, nor did I bring my usual dose of oral hydration solution that I always bring on work days like this, and, finally, I did not seek shade early enough when I felt the effects coming on.

The garden training work was basically finished, though people were still talking with my friend. I finally had to leave the garden, seeking some shade. The shade helped, as I leaned on the seat of a persons motorcycle under a tree for a minute But it was not enough, and too late.

I began to sweat profusely, and my blood pressure dropped. I finally had to lay down on the ground like a big baby, as I was going to blackout if I did not. As I rested in the shade, it passed, with a half dozen men watching me, and dozens of women walking by thinking I am some big, fat, soft white man.

One of the men went to retrieve my motorcycle for me, so I could drive it back into the village. But, by the time they returned with my motorcycle, I was already feeling better, and able to walk just fine.

With the combination of this episode, and the 165 km round trip on the motorcycle, the day knocked the stuffing out of me. I am still feeling kind of tired and weak this morning.   So I am doing office work as our cleaning girl cleans up the mess around here. I need to get my feet back under me as I am scheduled to be in another village tomorrow morning. We have over forty gardens going in there.

Anyway, it scared me. It was embarrassing, it was humbling. The episode served as a reminder to;

  • ALWAYS eat something before heading into the bush for the day.
  • ALWAYS bring your Oral re-hydration solution.
  • ALWAYS bring a water purifying water bottle so you can refill in the village and stay properly hydrated.
  • ALWAYS seek shade at the first sign of not feeling well. Do not delay, as I did for thirty minutes or more. Stupid!

When I arrived home, I drank a liter of oral rehydration  solution, showered and then went to get my motorcycle washed,  before seeking some dinner at a local watering hole.

My motorcycle has not been washed once after three weeks of bush riding. I could not touch anything on it and stay clean. I wanted to go to and eat, clean.

My bike waiting to get washed at the 50 cent bike wash.

In a graciously offered chair, I sat on the side of the road, street watching for twenty minutes, which I enjoy, as I waited for my turn. It gave me time to process the days happenings.

Unfortunately, I had to cope with the nice smell of the rotting, putrid slop that was cleaned out of the town gutters, two weeks ago, but has yet to be hauled away.

Sitting in my chair, street watching.

After, taking in the amazing sights, I went and got a bite to eat.

I am typing the remainder of this story, as our cleaner sweeps and scrubs the following morning. My office and apartment smells like damp dust, as she works.

I am sipping orange juice with salt sprinkled into it to promote the re-hydration process. Yet after three huge cups of coffee, a liter of water, and this almost liter of orange juice and salt,  I still do not need to pee. I will be drinking until I do.

Too much information? Life in the Sub-Sahara.  If you aren’t peeing, you are in trouble with your hydration. I was in trouble with my hydration.


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