Sunday, September 10, 2006

Things fall apart. You may think it’s the title of Chinua Achebe’s famous novel of post-colonial Africa. It is also the description of my house, my car, my clothes…even the bloody furniture. I went into the kitchen this morning and was confronted with a large amount of sawdust scattered around a small stool. Has someone been doing late-night carpentry?

No- closer inspection yielded multiple termite holes. I hoped fervently that none of them had gotten to snacking on the table or the cabinetry and threw the thing out the back door, cursing mildly as I stepped in a puddle of water. What’s this? A leak under the sink, bien sûr. The plumber had just spent two whole days here fixing the sink and toilets, and here is the result: Lake Tengrela transported to my kitchen.

I mopped up and stuck a bucket under the trap. That was VERY brave of me, as I live in dread of the giant roaches under the sink. I usually only open the cabinet if I have a can of bug spray with me or one of the cats as a bodyguard. But I was rewarded with only ants, which I can bear. But they have invaded the walls. I think they are eating the wiring. That could explain why our electrical system bursts into flame regularly. The ants and the leaking roof could both be causing that. Severin’s bedroom has a huge leak in the corner, as does the storeroom. The later is more serious, as the fuse box for the whole house is there. (I took a photo of the fusebox so that I could post it so you could all see that I'm not some completely hyper-perfectionist, delusional, depressive, paranoid lunatic. But Blogger isn't letting me post pics today for some mysterious reason. Conspiracy!!!!!)

Will the owner fix any of this? No. Have we tried to? Yes, but it’s useless. The roofer comes, but two days later, the whole mess is leaking again. The same for the plumbing and electricity.

And the car is definitely falling apart. I tried to put the Toyota into gear yesterday, and it wouldn’t budge. At first I thought maybe one of the kids had sabotaged it. I had told them last night that we were going to church Sunday morning and they were less than thrilled. And I know they’ve seen heaps of films where the clever protagonist rips off the distributor cap to prevent the bad guys from making a vehicular getaway (The Sound of Music springs to mind. ) But no, Hassan the garage guy has just informed me that the clutch has a problem. An expensive problem, of course. We had him “fix” the problem and we have just been out for a test drive. In first gear the whole truck shudders like an elephant with malaria, in second it jumps and howls like a snakebit hippo. It runs pretty well in third, which is good, because I am fresh out of bizarre metaphors.

Trying to leave the house and go for a swim, JP noticed that the front door lock is nearly broken. The lock on our house in France is 100 years old and it works just dandy. What IS it about this place?

One theory could be that a European lifestyle is completely incompatible with the West African eco-system - that maybe the habits of living that developed there do not translate well. Maybe running water, electricity and locked doors just shouldn’t be here.

Then again, it could be that JP offended some bush spirit while he was out doing research and now we are CURSED. That seems much more likely.


Samantha said...

Wow, sometimes bad things really DO come in multiples, huh?

BurkinaMom said...

Yeah- I was amazed to get to the end of the day with all my limbs intact.