I’m alive. Our orange internet stick has not been. The continuity has been, well, not continuous. The price: exorbitant. The kids and I walked to the center for an orange top-up card and came back with flour, oil, cocoa, twenty eggs and material for a tablecloth…but no internet top-up card. It was in my left pocket. Can I help you carry your things, someone asked. No, I’m fine. Then Rachel comes running up to me, and whispers mom, someone is RIGHT behind you. It didn’t dawn on my until much later that Rachel thought this person was suspiciously close to me, not until I couldn’t find my internet top-up card.
Edna, the cook, shares with me that when she was a child, she had chai and bread for breakfast and ugali, vegetables and sometimes mutton for dinner. No occasional trips to a restaurant to break up the monotony. No Kraft Dinner, hot dogs or ice cream. I’m probably wrong in that scarcity isn’t really an issue for me here, it’s food availability. And when we return, I wonder how long I’ll be standing inside the Superstore doors staring…in awe, in excitement at the possibilities, and in shock that so many people can’t afford any of this.
Agnes told me about her visit to mamaTeresa. She walked into her home and asked if Teresa was preparing chai for the kids. Oh no, not chai today. Agnes says, yes, chai today…and hands her two pounds of flour, a pound of sugar and tea leaves. She cried. Five dollars worth of groceries, and she cried. Somehow flour, sugar, and tea leaves don’t qualify as extras to me. Madelyn’s convinced me to celebrate North America’s abundance with fries from McDonald’s, sandwiches from Arby’s, frosties from Wendy’s and root beer from A+W. We might do this before we make it home.
We started our African studies at the same time the wandering neighbourhood preschoolers came out to play. So I found some pencil crayons and paper and let them doodle while we sat and read and wrote. Then the rain started. So we moved to the verandah. And then sheets of rain came so hard we had to move inside. We were already baking banana bread, then decided to boil some eggs and chai to warm us all. I asked Agnes if their mothers wouldn’t be worried if they weren’t back home. Oh no, not worried. Is it okay that they’re in my home? Oh, that will just be the fun adventure for the day to share with their mamas.
In desperate need of a haircut, Jim asked me to snip away. This is a first. Good thing I paid attention when Zach was getting snipped before we left. I told Jim I’d wave the fee, this time. Next time I’ll get cutting shears and a flowbee. Do they still sell those late in the night?
With increased admissions to peds for pneumonia, and my own increasing sniffles with the cooler climes, I am now convinced, antithetical to current medical theory, that a cold can indeed be encouraged by the cold. I know, a cold is a virus transmitted from mucosal secretions. I’ve got the theory firmly implanted in my nursing school trained mind. But the wet cold was making me feel more ill. I now understand why little ones here are dressed in winter jackets in twenty degrees celsius. I asked for dry firewood to intiate the fireplace two nights ago, and sitting in front of the dry heat for five hours, I felt so much better…watching the orange flames dancing in their fierce warpaths.