Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rats, Jiggers, Worms and the Fight Against APATHY

It's a damn good thing that I am not ranking the grossness of my weeks because I don't even want to recall if any week can ever come close to this week. I guess disgust of things that truly are disgusting is a great way to remain distracted from the disgust of complete and total, disenabling apathy…so, I’m just going to except all of the weirdness of this week and hopefully gross you out in the process.

To begin with, as I write this is has been officially 7 days since I have made any attempt at bathing, but to be real, that’s basically every week….haha.

Last weekend after the seminar I was taking a day of relaxing before coming back to the village frustrations. A couple of PCVs and I decided it would be fun to watch a video tape and be super old school. We hooked it all up, but for some reason the player wouldn’t say on. I, being the fixer of all things technical, was tenaciously trying to figure out what the problem was when we noticed that a nostril burning stench was coming from the tape player. We deduced that it could only be a nest of dead rats, even though that was just some half-hearted guess and not really what we expected to find once we opened up the deck. Well, it was what we found. A small next filled with baby rats, starved to death, their rib cages showing and their little rat feet all wrapped up around each other. They were oozing an extremely potent liquid and smelled like something that Satan would spit at you upon your arrival to the ever after. So, naturally we tossed the rats out, I tweaked the chewed wires, we popped in a tape and promptly ordered dinner. Lets just say that sensitivity to things that should be revolting is at an all-time low these days.

The nest day I came back to the village with my buddy Isaya. He’s a street kid, orphan punk that lives in Njome and was invited a while ago by Mama Witi to come to Ikuna. I have to say that not everyone was thrilled by my guest (with his 2 left shoes, torn jacket without sleeves, and the underlying stench of someone less bathed then myself), but whatever, I do what I want. We watched the championship football (I think it’s called soccer in America…) game in the village. It was my sub-village versus another sub-village and Uhuru, my sub-villag, Shindwaed! (Won!) After that we went back to my house and Isaya rocked out to some country CD that I didn’t even know I had white I did some a patch job on some of his clothes. Then we headed up to Mama Witi’s for a true family dinner.

Isaya is unique in the fact that he isn’t just a kid yanking my chain. His parents are really both dead, he lives in a house by himself in town. His grandfather is a rich farmer who wants little to no contact with Isaya. He can go to school for free, but at the age of 14 after living on the streets without any rules or regulations for along time, chooses only to go if he’s really hungry and wants the free food. The school that he goes to is actually an NGO for orphans called Compassion, but I don’t really understand the logistics. I’m just glad that they feed the kid every once and a while. He is totally a little pocket picking thief, but he knows better to mess with me cause when he does all the shots are off and we can’t be friends anymore. I have known him since last November and see him in town often. We usually just mess around, have song offs, grab some food, or not, and enjoy the day. So, he was thrilled to be able to go to Mama Witi’s with me and sit in a real Tanzanian kitchen, around a fire, and chat and laugh, share stories, listen to the news, and eat like a real family does. He highly impressed Mama Witi’s youngest son and they became immediate buddies, however Baba Eliza (the dad) was about to kick my ass for bringing this kid to the village, especially after my recent theft situations. Baba Eliza made it a point to bring up the fact that they beat the crap out of the thief that robbed me, and Isaya, totally unfazed, only topped his story by telling what they do to thieves in Njombe. Apparently they tie a bag around their head, make them stand in a tire, douse it in gasoline and then light them on fire. It’s called Choma Mwizi, Or Grill the Thief. Sick.

After dinner, I was parched and drank some water that I know was unfiltered. The next day Isaya headed back to town and I was sick the entire day. I’m talking feel the worms growing in your stomach and exploding on themselves sick. I didn’t really get out of bed expect to use the latrine, which is in serious disarray right about now…do not ever drink unfiltered water in Africa. You will get sick.

The next day, after a Tony Danza style body explosion I was feeling a lot better and decided to take on the task of cleaning my house. When I opened the door to the room that I have made the office I noticed that the door wasn’t opening all of the way. I looked at the bottom of the door and noticed two little white legs sticking out from underneath it. Hm, yes, a dead rat door jam. Awesome. Upon further inspection, 3 rats had died in the “office” and it smells equally as terrible as my bathroom, but not as bad at the liquid baby rats nest from the other day.

Later that day I was sitting outside recounting all of the gross things that had happened in the last few days, dead baby rats nest, totally body explosion, dead mama and baba rats…and then I noticed that the bottom of my foot was killing me. I was checking it out and saw this little brown thing sticking out of the side of my pinking toe. I grabbed some tweezers and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge, so I took a knife and cut it, pulled again and SHA-BAM! It was a jigger, or just a jigger egg. I don’t know, but it was sick and pussy and that’s all I’m going to say.

Haha, okay so that’s the most disgusting week ever. You’ll all be happy to know that I have finally bathed and the sickness, rats and jigger are all gone. I have pictures of all of the dead rats but have decided against sharing them. : )

Rocking it out one day at a time.

Oh, the best quote of the month is from a book that my friend Patty send me. It’s called the “The Water is Wide” by Pat Conroy; “I was young and stupid. I thought that people would care.” It’s in reference to his Peace Corps-esque adventure on a poor island off of the coast of South Carolina. It’s perfect for my life.

About my fight against apathy..well I’ve decided to let apathy win for a while and not fight the fight again not wanting to fight…hahaha. I think it will get me very fast and vastly broaden my horizons. Seriously though, it’s impossible to make people want to care about themselves, their health, the beating of women, the over workload of mothers, the lack of food variety, nutrition, AIDS…anything.

I cannot fight the apathy, in regards to the issues, alone, and it’s totally senseless for me to do so when these are not my issues, this is just my temporary life, I get to say Bye and pack up and go on living and fighting for the things that have some relevance to my life. These topics DO have relevance to my life RIGHT NOW, but they are not things that I will ever really LIVE with. Even thought they manifest themselves in countless ways day in a day out, I cannot make people suddenly believe that beating your wife, having AIDs, or working from dawn till dusk while your husband drinks, are problems, or issues to be faced. So, I don’t know what that leaves me with.

Like Conroy said, I thought that people would care, I am young and stupid. My best foot is being put forward, in the direction of showing empathy, care and understanding with Tanzanians, and in the event that I find a man, woman or child with a voice for these issues, I will be there to encourage the hell out of them to speak up, speak loud, and engage other people.

Okay, love ya’ll and missing the world of chaos that I could find some bit of reason and sensibility in, even if it was equally as demoralizing for a slew of different reasons.


mom said...

What a hell of a week..Good news..Sun will come up tomorrow and you can have another chance at a great week.You know you can...Kinda like the Little Engine that could. You are great..Everyone has a few bad weeks.....time to let the good times roll. .Have an uneventful week. Hug my Kate if you see her.

Mema said...

Only you can make me go from laughing to crying in just a few short sentences. Not too sure where you get your strength from, but I am so damn proud of you. Hang in there, the days will soon be warmer and maybe the rats will move out. Also, please don't drink any more unfiltered water. Counting the days til I get to see hug you and hold you.

chrisc said...

Just keep in mind every person tou have come in face to face contact with you have left your indelible imprint on them . Some will keep & hold it more than others..Love & Hugs!! Dad

Rose said...

Hey Girl;

Yeah you have had a very creepy week lol. Bet you never drink unfiltered water again, been there done that and it only takes once to never make that mistake again.

It's amazing how depending on where a person is in Africa how the punishment for theft is different.

For instance when my camera was stolen in Cairo West they wanted to cut the hand off of the thief. I convinced them not to (I think), but that is how they handle things of that nature in Cairo. I would think though that losing a hand is a better fate than how they handle it in the TZ.

I once saw an American man down on all fours in the desert being ridden as a horse and whipped for not going fast enough. His knees were raw and bloody as well as his hands and his pants were shreds from where the whip had impacted. This punishment was for entering into a restricted area, that he did not even know that he had entered. He was ridden in the hot desert for hours by a man at least three times his size until exhaustion and then he passed out. Such is life in third world countries, but a sad realization all the same.

Still loving reading your blog and I think that you write beautifully, especially your poems that you wrote in the past.

I'm sorry that I have yet to send you any mail, I had great intentions of sending you some pictures and books and have yet to do so :(

So sending you a hug and a smile instead and leave you with thanks for being you. Keep on keeping on because you do make a difference in people lives and we love you and admire you for it you are a very special person and I feel privileged to know you!

Take-Care my friend! Can't wait to see you this winter!

mom said...

Have so much fun in Dar..You all need to take a big chill pill..does it make you feel better that all your blogs are really really dark this time ..Party hard,but all of you be safe...Hugs to my girl...