Our dear field coordinator is so jealous of all my adventures he doesn’t want to hear of another thing! I really am so so lucky. This is truly the most fascinating, amazing, remote mission I could possibly have the opportunity to be on. The traditional culture and sheer remoteness of this project are once in a lifetime opportunities. Apart from our limited supplies, generated electricity and our own technology, we really could be living 1000 years ago.
The last few mornings as I sat with my coffee and cigarette overlooking the now seven meter deep river, a man, naked as the day he was born, in only a beaded belt, crouches and creeps through the meter tall grass, along the middle bank of the island, with hunting spear in hand. I can only think he is hunting the profuse huge monitor lizards as apart from them and a variety of birds, I haven’t seen anything else on the island.
The river is only three meters from the top now. I’ve only been here two months but its risen seven meters in that time. It really is the lifeline of the people here. They bath, drink, cook, wash, fish, play and travel by it. Every morning and evening the adults come, strip off and lather up until they are totally white with soap, then rinse off in the murky brown water, wash their clothes and pots, and climb back into their discarded clothes before returning home to their tukul with pots, clothes or jerry cans balanced upon their heads. Youngsters as young as three or four, quite good little swimmers, spend hours jumping, somersaulting and swimming. This is their life and has been for thousands of years. It’s totally amazing to be a part of it.
The Nyawech clinic on Friday was a little unorganized as two of my four staff didn’t turn up, but the kids were amazing, yelling, cheering and clapping when we arrived, carrying our gear to the tent that still remained in a cloud of dust due to their sweeping. As we worked several kids came calling “kiwai, kiwai” and when I ignored them called “Kit, Kit football”. Wow they were actually calling me my name instead of kiwai [foreigner], which was Fantastic! Anyway, I told them I was working as the girls also called me to skip, but I had a quick play with them before we left, leaving them happy and smiling their huge broad grins.
I bought a huge 12 pound native fish here for 50 birr. They said 40 and I only had a 50 so they told me 35! I gave them the 50 and it was enough to feed the team twice! Half is still in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner.
You will never believe what just happened. Kirsten came to tell me there was a box for me in pharmacy. Thinking she had found Holly Potter's kittens I went out to find a box containing my missing cheese!!!! It had arrived yesterday and was put in the log store (a tin shed). Luckily it had melted ice packs around it so wasn’t too hot! (It’s over 40 today.) Also there was a box of goodies, hundreds of balloons, toys for the kids, soup mixes, stock cubes, chocolate, olives, herbs and spices not to mention a huge block of brie and a large pack of grated French cheese!!! It was Christmas! The expats were so excited, both boys vowing to marry the sender. Many thanks to her indeed! We will have a little party tonight and to be sure NO tomato paste for a week!