Saturday, December 27, 2008

how I came to be ironing towels in Zambia and other random jottings...

· If you forget to bring in the washing before dusk falls, putzi flies lay eggs on the nice clean clothes and towels which hatch (the eggs not the washing) and burrow into your skin when you next wear said clothes etc. Solution (if dusk catches you unawares)? – fry the beggars by ironing them, TOWELS included!!
· Mossie nets are only vaguely romantic to sleep under for a couple of nights then they become a bit of a nuisance. But nowhere as much of a nuisance as having malaria
· When you haven’t got much in the pantry you make do and it can be fun concocting. The established families have gardens and there is a market about 20 mins walk away but the best stuff has all gone by the time we get there in the afternoon – after work. Fresh meat and dairy is available from a nearby farm weekly. However, “making do” in Western terms would mean a feast in many Zambian eyes. The villagers mostly eat nshima which is ground cassava root or maize cooked and mixed with water to form a ball of dough that they dip into “relish” eg eggs, beans, cabbage or kapenta which is dried fish and apparently disgusting to our palate. And that’s basically it. Once a day if you’re poor and twice a day if better off. And if you are really poor your relish is made of cassava leaves that have hopefully been processed enough to remove the toxicity. :-(
· After that it seems wrong to admit it but there is nothing like the smell of fresh baking when you come in the door after work! Especially bread. Deenia works for one of the other mission families but they have gone on furlough for 6mths – and there’s no such thing as holiday pay – so Justin and George, and Fiona and Nikki are employing her between them to tide her over. She works for the ‘boys’ 4 mornings and us 2 per week – hmm, there’s a comment in there somewhere. All the households here have workers – some as many as 4. All the white adults work in one capacity or another on the mission station and the 7 children flow seamlessly between their 2 respective households :-).
· You do eventually get used to living at nearly 1500 metres! The headaches subsided after a few days but on the 3rd evening Fi took me up Kalene Hill and although I’m reasonably hill-fit the walk knocked me. The view was well worth it and I hope to get up there again to see the sunset. It was cloudy and we didn’t have torches anyway so couldn’t have stayed. The locals are starting to feel cold and even I noticed it a little cooler the other night but I can’t see me wearing a woolie any time soon!
· Things happen to anyone round here, irrespective of who you are – the doc in charge, John, has just been bitten by a roaming dog that he surprised in his shed and although he has had all the vaccs he’s been given rabies and tetanus boosters just in case. They’re trying to get away for a week’s break – it’s only 4pm! (and people think we Browns are chronic !)

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