Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rough Roads

Road Trips to the Middle of No Where

We've been in Africa for 3 weeks or so now. We've driven a lot on really bad roads. There are some that are literally pock-marked by gigantic pot holes. We knew the roads would be bad, but not this bad & we have some worse ones to travel yet! So far, not much of a problem with motion-sickness thanks to Dramamine. Though on our last trip, Laura's Dramamine did not kick in right away & she ended up with vertigo & a 5 hour trip took much longer due to the needing to stop for her to toss her cookies 8 or so times. At one point we stopped to try to allow her meds to kick in and she laid down on the road, to try to stop the spinning, strategically resting in front of our vehicle to keep from getting hit by trucks bounding down the dirt road. Villagers came out of the bushes to stare and ask if we were ok. Some people took pictures! They were really curious & concerned for this sick foreigner. I bet it was quite a sight to see a white woman laying on the road with her husband kneeling, fanning her with a hand fan! 
Later down the road, we had to stop due to traffic backed up by two trucks stuck in the mud. One had overturned and the other determined it could not pass without tipping once it made it to the middle of the bog. Africans are so resourceful. They took a tire off the overturned truck to allow the other one space to pass and the traffic cleared up in 45 minutes! Thankfully, a dose of Dramamine started to take effect during that stop, and the swerving and constant bumping did not bother Laura anymore. We got in well after dark – not a great idea to drive at night here. It's dark with no street lights, so pot-holes jump out at you, and you never know what will be crossing the road (even at 10pm): people, cows, sheep, ducks... Needless to say, we rested up for a few days after that rough trip. All throughout we kept thanking the Lord that our car had A/C & was able to keep trekking after getting some bad gas that caused us to stall 15 times while we were driving. Reaching out to the unreached doesn't come without some challenges. Thankfully, we've had some decent road trips since this one.

In the Village

First village orientation.
So our village orientation has begun. We’ve spent a week living in a hut & pumping water from a well & learning some greetings. We’ve watched women carry huge buckets on their heads, seen men come back from the fields with a harvest of maize, peanuts, and manioc. It’s hot and dusty in the village. It’s been interesting. There are some big bugs in the latrine at night, & nightly trips to the latrine are disliked by every member of our family, but oh well, nature calls. Hut life isn’t so bad, but not my favorite either. It’s definitely doable and I can see the value of being in a village.

The village community is different from city life & as new-comers, we had a bit of adjusting to do. Each day, we would have 20-30 kids come to the yard to see our “too-ba-boo” children (foreigners or white people). Lots of kids wanted to touch our daughter’s red hair. She felt overwhelmed by all the little reaching hands. Some kids were nice and wanted to befriend us. Others were just amazed to see people so different. Young kids would stare and laugh sometimes. Some teens brought a new friend each day to come and take pictures of us on their cell phones. We felt odd in this new celebrity role. As our son played soccer with the other children, I felt like our kids were taking part in a daily routine of monkey-in-the-middle, where our kids were the in the middle. Watching foreigners is like watching TV for villagers. The adults on the other hand, were quite friendly and helpful – always greeting us and shooing away impolite gawkers. Our last night in this village, we had a dance party. (Those of you who don’t agree with dancing, don’t faint.) It was a way to make a memory, one African woman told me as we danced and laughed. They seemed impressed with my dance skills (that would never happen in the States!). I felt sad leaving the village, knowing that I may never see them again & knowing how badly they needed to know of the love of God. I will continue to pray for the two followers I met, that their light will be bright and not go out. I am praying that the whole village will be lead to the right path by the light of these two.

African Markets

First Market Trips

We had the opportunity during our first few weeks in the capital, to take a few market trips. One we were able to walk to. It was a HOT day & the market was a tad smelly. We saw amazingly different things. It was colorful and crowded. We weaved in and out and bought what we thought we needed. We learned so many things, like what was better to buy elsewhere, and how much to buy, etc. The butcher shop part was the least appetizing. Raw meat was laying out with flies swarming around while the butcher whacked at the meat. Some of the bones he pounded until they were like shrapnel. I'm so glad we learned that we could buy refrigerated meat elsewhere (and yes, we pressure cook it all!). It was fun to see the various beans in different shapes and sizes and colors. It was interesting to learn that you need to buy and eat your bananas & oranges while they are still green. Things ripen from the inside out in this climate. Oh, and watch out for small stones in the local rice!
At one point we were in the center of this covered market area (tin roofs or umbrellas for other stalls) and our kids started feeling boxed in. I was mentally prepared for it to be slightly unpleasant and overwhelming. Claire started climbing me, literally. She kept telling me there were too many people. Brent and I took turns holding her and telling her to either look up at the ceiling or to close her eyes. We were so thankful for the missionary guiding us around. She helped Claire pick out a bracelet & Ethan a ball. The terrifying trip to market was not so bad for them in the end.
We traveled by car to other markets (while someone watched our kids) to learn the ropes & were told we would not be able to remember it all the first time. They were right! This time, the market was crowded and maze-like. It spanned a large area & I refer to it as the “cave market” because it was a covered rocky area with rain dripping through – reminded me of being in a cave, only HOT. It was a huge place which will take me many times visiting before I can feel I've confidently mastered it. It was fun to see all the various produce available and the odd things you could find there. I liked this market but much prefer the idea of shopping with an experienced friend. We also had the chance to visit some Lebanese run stores that carried a lot of familiar (but expensive) French products. All in all, an interesting experience. Each time we come home from market was wash our shoes and feet and hands (you walk through some not so fun stuff, especially in the drippy rain). Ahh, the new shopping experience – what will I find next time?
back to top