Monthly Archives: January 2012

First I Cried, then I Laughed

There were sixteen of us crammed around the table. The two waiters serving us made eighteen very warm bodies stuffed into a room built for six. We were triple their capacity, but no one seemed to mind… no one but me. Nine of our party of sixteen were children—two of them were twelve years old and the other seven were four and under. An elbow to the left side, a kick to the shin, a spilled drink across the table, a glass Coca-Cola bottle shattered at my feet, and another elbow to the left. We had been seated for at least an hour and now three of the children were crying. The food began to slowly trickle out of kitchen plate by plate and mine of course came last {undoubtedly the only one that required no cooking—a salad!}. I was two days old in Africa—I was pushing 72 hours without sleep. I was on the wrong malaria medicine. It was hot and I was hungry. I somehow managed to block out the sticky messes and screaming children as I finally began to eat. Then without any warning, we lost electricity and I began to cry. When our waiter came and placed lit candles on our already crowded table, I noticed that my tears had turned to hysterical laughter in that dimly lit room. Strangely enough, eating a plate of lettuce in the dark was just the ticket for pushing through jet lag and the emotional rubble left in the aftermath of mefloquine.

We’ve been in Africa now for two weeks, and we continue to lose power regularly. In fact, we don’t have electricity more often than we have it (even went out twice today in the supermarket!). I’m sure consistent power outages eventually wear out their welcome for those living in the city and paying for electricity, but as for me, I wanna keep finding joy in the ambiance of it all. Preparing to move to the bush has certainly had its way of changing my perspective…