Monday, May 08, 2006

Due to the high volume of e-mail generated by my last post, today’s blog entry will be an FAQ. Little did I know that my detailed description of being locked in a thatched hut for one hour would be the subject of so much interest. I feel like a celebrity, with multitudes of people dying to know the banal details of my daily life. Thanks everyone!
BTW- the photo today is not of THE HUT, but it is very similar.
Also, folks wishing to see more mask pics can look in the album in the link on the right. There is a new sub-album where I am loading about 9 pictures. I didn't take a lot, as I felt so unwell.

Q. What was the hut made of?
A. A careful reading of the text shows that I mention that it is a STONE hut. This is quite unusual. The typical Burkinabe hut is made of sun-dried mud bricks and does not have very thick walls. Indeed, I could have kicked my way out of a normal hut in 5 minutes. But these special “hotel” huts were constricted out of a local, red-colored stone and cement mortar. The walls were about 1 foot thick and would have been hard to get through.

Q. Could you have got out a window?
A. Again, careful reading reveals that I described the hut as “windowless”. The only ventilation was provided by a series of perforated cement bricks near the top of the wall.

Q. Were the hut originally made as prisons, grain storage bins, or what? Why the lack of windows?
A. No, the whole place was built two years ago specifically as a hotel. I think that they made the buildings windowless to keep the heat out. But it doesn’t seem to be working out that way, as far as I can tell.

Q. Did it have a dirt floor? Could you have tunneled out?
A. Though normal huts do have packed earth floors, this one had cement. The only way out would have been with a jackhammer and much diligent digging. Not an option.

Q. What about the thatched roof? Did you think about going that way?
A. The thatched roofs here are not just a few wisps of straw tied down with twine. They are generally about a foot thick and attached tightly with wire. I certainly inspected the underside of the roof very intently. I determined that I could reach the bottom edge of it by pushing the bed against the wall, putting the chair on top of that and then scrambling up from there onto the top of the partition wall of the shower ( shower= hole in cement floor+ bucket) From the top of that wall, I figured I could use the saw on my swiss army knife to cut through the straw. If the guys on the outside could get up there and work from their side, I thought that I could escape that way if necessary..

Q. Did you feel claustrophobic?
A. My rescuers asked me this several times and the answer is “no”. The hut was pretty large- about 12 ft in diameter. The ceiling was also quite high- a conical shape about 15 feet up at the center. So it was quite spacious. I would not care to be shut into a small closet for a long period, but one hour in a big hut created no discernable psychological trauma.

Q. Why does such weird stuff happen to you?
A. I have no freaking idea.

Q. Were there lots of bugs in the hut?
A. I am sure there were, but they all kindly stayed hidden in the shower drain, bless their tiny hearts. I really cannot bear roaches, despite my many years in Africa. If they had decided to come out and investigate the fuss, I might have gone ahead and had a nice, long panic.

Q. Do you have the phone number for that hotel? Sounds like fun!
A. If you read the rest of the story tomorrow and still want it, I’ll give it to you.

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