A day in the life



At 5 am the day begins with dogs barking, roosters crowing, pigeons, goats, sheep, and donkeys all stating their opinions on the situation in Darfur. The shower is always too cold in the morning, so I wait till after work giving the sun time to warm the show tank.

Then Jabbinna (coffee), and more jabbinna. The coffee here tastes great but does not have nearly enough caffeine as I'm used to. Apparently in some parts of Africa coffee is a tradition as tea is with Japan. Every culture should have coffee as a part if its cultural fabric... just for me.

Sometimes chickens wander into the eating area trying to get my bread. I give them some when no one is looking. David (the field coordinator) and Michael (the doctor) found a snake in the eating area last week.

The snake finding made it to the weekly security report. Although I was not in on this snake exile, I have walk with caution ever since. My tukul has a hole in it just perfect for the large head of a venomous snake to poke through. Will snakes chew through a bug net?


After work I have a routine to take a walk through the community. My outsider ways creates quite the ruckus. Did any of you spend your childhood car travels trying to get truck drivers to honk their horn by pulling an imaginary horn with your arm? It can be so amusing what one's manipulation can cause people to do. The kids in Seliea play a similar game: Any obvious outsider is called "howajy". To make a howajy talk is apparently hilarious for kids here. Every where I walk there is a little voice poking through the fence: Hey howajy!!! howajy!!!. howajy!!!

Me: Salam elecome/hello

kids: ahhh hahahaha.ahahah. Howajy!

They likely make bets on who can get the closest or shake my hand. One of the kids convince me to eat a disgusting seed or nut. I bet she got some sort of howajy-manipulation award. If howajy is a derogatory term I am truly sorry for others who have been victimized by howajy tricks.


Friday is my only day off. David suggested that we go horse back riding. I agreed if I was still up for it at the end of the day. So Abdulla set off to get the horses at 4pm. As he was leaving I requested a donkey since I have never interacted with a horse. Abdulla said he would be ashamed to ride with me on a donkey... it is not an animal that represents me. So the horses arrived with their owners who were very proud to allow us to ride them. I watch David and Abdulla "mount" their horses and I did similar. My feet

would not fit in the peddles so I kicked off my shoes. As soon as I started to look for my rope-thing the horse started to walk away. My dog sled commands were not working with this horse, nor the few phrases from western movies I knew. Then David's horse started running... then mine started to race his at full speed! All the town saw a howagy charging at full speed on a horse yelling the most profane language. Under a thorny

tree... "howagy, howagy howagy," through the market.... "howagy!", shit, howagy, f-..... then out to the "not so safe" edge of town. Luckily this randy animal found himself a female horse to flirt with and settled down a bit. I put my feet in the foot peddles and he started to wander toward David and Abdulla's horses where I received some instructions and requested a donkey again.

I ended up enjoying my horse. Working in Seleia challenges my confidence, but horses require someone who is sure of them self. I can see where ride is therapeutic. I traveled through an IDP (internally displaced person) camp which went further then eye could see, then relaxed at the house of one of my co worker's. We ate, danced, had tea, and then it was time to return the horses. The horses must have known that their fun with howagy was over because they started running out of control again. Through a herd of goats!, Leaping over stumps, to the hospital, passed my tukul and out to the edge of town... thank goodness for another female horse. The owner of the horse found me having a long conversation with the horse and walked me back.

With my adrenaline still pumping I will willing to pay him any amount for bringing me back safely. But he kindly told me through Abdulla's translation that he did not want any money, but would appreciate if we drop by with some food for the horse. I was very moved, there are some very good people here in Darfur whom you may not have seen on the news.

I slept well that night, having wild dreams of wild horses. Then I woke up the following day with a very sore ass.