Yes, yes, I know…the title is a cliché. But you try coming up with something original in this sweltering heat. That’s it really…the heat is killing my creativity. It keeps me awake at night. At midday I search for a spot on my bed where the ceiling fan creates the eye of the storm while I try to take a 20-minute nap. Sadly as soon as I am invaded by sleep, the sweat builds up and I have to turn around to let it evaporate. Three minute cycles…I have timed myself. Like roasted chicken. Or more likely a roasted pig. I saw a pig slaughtered and skinned by our neighbours a couple of weeks ago. Hmmmm. Strange. I am a city girl, and except for the one time that I milked a cow, the closest I came to a dead animal was, well, in the supermarket. No I didn’t kill the cow, but it must have felt that way to her.
The New Year was brought in not by firecrackers, or bubbly champagne, or 12 grapes. I slept through it. We were greeted by an earthquake though. Not exactly at the strike of midnight, but close enough. 6.3. The first thing I reached for was my laptop. Then my pants. True love.
I have settled in, sort of. In the mornings I wake up to the chirping of birds. I tried counting how many different “tunes” I could hear. At least ten. Idyllic isn’t it, waking up to the chitter chatter of birds instead of traffic moans and ambulance groans? It is. If they could only start later than 4:00 am…it is not when I am at my best! Especially when I have been waking up several times during the night thanks to the khishkhishkhish of our guard’s 2-way radios.
The whole neighbourhood lives in my bedroom. The barbed wire, the guards, Cesar (our killer dog that we have been instructed not to approach within a few feet) cannot keep out George Michael’s voice blasting on the neighbours radio while I meditate. “Last Christmas I gave you my heart…” Sound has no boundaries here.
Nor does word of mouth. It is the fastest form of telecommunication here. “Elsie (our neighbour) is making you mumu on Friday”, a hospital staff echoes a conversation that I had with our neighbour not even ten minutes prior. Faster than the dialup internet service for which you need a dedicated employee to send and receive emails. More reliable that any cell-phone company in PNG.
And more reliable than me! I forgot to mention that our clinic has finally opened. More on that later. I traveled this last weekend. I was on a plane, and the cutest, chubbiest 1 year old would poke me through the crevice between the seats. I’d turn around and poke him back, and walk my fingers up his thigh and then tickle his tummy. He’d respond with a wave of laughter, his two upper teeth peaking through. The third time we went through our new ritual I glanced up at his mother’s eyes, and I was met with two black eyes suspended in a sea of blood, cupped by bruises. Before I left the plane, I gave her my contact information at the clinic. She promised she’d come visit us.
I was grateful for having a place to send her. Hope it will be a new year for her…and her child.
Happy New Year to you all.