“Headache 5/10. Stomach cramps 4/10. Temp 36.8. Think it’s just heat stroke, keep your phone close incase situation turns dire.” I texted Anna, my coach and AVC Team Lead, my vitals before I went to sleep last night.
During pre-dep training in Toronto Cat, the JF Program Manager, had a favorite saying, “Prevention, prevention, prevention!” It might not have been a complete act of prevention; that would have required more sunscreen and possibly a hat. But I still got the mental image of a thumbs up from Cat.
“How are you feeling this morning my brother?” Mr. Zewa walks into my hut. I’m still wrapped up in my sleeping bag under my bug net.
I rub my eyes. “Headache is pretty much gone, but my stomach still isn’t right.”
“Uh-aihhhhh, you just have to get used to Africa. Our sun, our bacteria, it’s different you know.”
He walks back outside, and my head flops back on the pillow I’ve fastened out of a pile of tee-shirts. It’s getting close to 7:30. Lazy white man.
After a bucket shower, I am starting to feel a little better. Austen and I are down by the creek behind his hut doing laundry. Well, he is doing my laundry and I am watching.
“Austen, I can do it. I’m a Zambian!” I say jokingly.
He laughs and moves out of the way so I can have a go.
My knuckles are raw, the soap is beginning to sting them a little. I finish one pant leg then stand up for a break, whipping the soap splatters from my face and arms. Austen laughs at my failed attempt, then does the other pant leg in a half the time. He holds it up for me to compare. The conclusion, I am not a Zambian. He doesn’t let me wash anything else.
The four CLAs are supposed to arrive shortly at Austen’s. I asked him if he could call a meeting yesterday so I could talk with them as a group. In a discreet way inquire about the money issues and try to figure out the dynamic. I’m also quite interested how they were selected for their roles as chair, secretary, etc.
Two hours later, nothing.
“Spainca, they do not come. They are off telling their farmers you are here, telling them if they get a visitor what to say about us agents. Have you seen?”
I find it interesting how Austen jumps right to the assumption they are telling their farmers to give them good reviews if I ask them questions. Emerson is a volunteer community police officer, Lemick is a Dunavant buyer and is busy this time of year, and Enoke doesn’t have a phone so Austen relied on telling his neighbor to tell his brother to tell Enoke about the meeting. I give them all the benefit of the doubt. But it is frustrating when there is no phone call. Nothing gets accomplished. We decide to walk into the village and buy some talk time.
The sun is starting to set as we walk homeward. The sky looks like a painting of pastel oranges and purples. The sunsets in the Zambian countryside are enough to make a grown man cry with their sheer beauty… and that is only a slight dramatic overstatement.
“Uuuuhhh…” I have to stop walking and grab my stomach. It was probably those damn leftover sweet potatoes. Cold food = bad idea.
I walk back into my hut and open my Tupperware full of drugs. Before I can pop a few pepto’s I find myself in a butt clenched power walk to the latrine in twilight.
I pull my shirt up over the nose, round the corner, and kick off the cover.
*THWAP THWap thwap!*
“Whoa! What the FUNK was that?!
I pause in the darkness staring at the hole in the ground in front of me. A dark fist size silhouette just flew down the hole! I blink in disbelief.
“I must be hallucinating…” I mumble to myself and squat. Relived.
“Why would anything fly down into the pit of a latrine? Clearly I am going nuts.”
Mid thought – *THWAP, THUMP!*
I leap and almost put my head through the thatch roofing. I full out sprint out of the latrine pants half done up, heart rate 220.
“Did that really just happen? That thing actually tried to escape mid squat!?!”
I just stand outside the latrine, frozen in pure shock, my belt buckle still swinging from the momentum of the sprint.
“Well, I don’t feel sick anymore… Literally scared the shit out of me.”
I turn on my flashlight and walk down the short path to the creek shaking with bewilderment to get some water for a bath.
“I just got hit in the ass by an unidentified object, in a dark latrine, in rural Zambia. What the hell.”
In true EWB spirit I think to myself as I scoop the water into a large basin, “This should make an interesting blog post…”