Friday, March 31, 2006

BIG news today, folks! The Mango Rain came!!!!! Ok- more like a Mango Sprinkle, but still! Those few drop felt fabulous!
The climate here in Burkina is kind of creepy if you are used to "real" weather, with proper seasons and such. Here you get your hot, slightly humid season, followed by a less hot dry season, then a VERY hot dry season, finishing off with a hot rainy season. As you can see, there is kind of a theme....... The only way to get fresh, cool air is to stand right in front of an air-conditioner - which, btw, I actually I do from time to time. I spritz some pine-scented air freshener around at the same time, to get a maximum psychological coolig effect going. I also frequently read books about early 19th explorations at the Poles. It all gets my cold mojo working. If a person is allowed to have a cold mojo.
But I digress.
We are now in the middle of the VERY hot season. Temperatures are between 99 and 110 most days. Which may not sound too hot to any of you living in places with severe summer heat. But the difference is that here comfort is hard to come by. There are few air-conditioned stores and most of your shopping is done outdoors at the marketplace. There is little greenery, except for the small oasis you can create in your yard with generous watering from a garden hose. And there's that hot, dry wind full of red grit and Saharan sand. Let's just say "nice" days are hard to come by.
So, it's the middle of the hottest time of the year and we haven't seen a drop of rain since September. Six months without a tiny bit of precipitation. The city reservoirs are quite low. The grazing is thin and the goats and sheep are looking gaunt. The leaves on the trees have thinned out. We are all looking forward to the rains beginning in June. The whole country will green up in a matter of days. The Mango Rain is a preview- a little reminder not to give up hope. It's just a short rain that comes once in the month of March. People say it's necessary for a good mango harvest. And mangos are important, believe me. People here will just about kill each other over the rights to a mango tree. If you are walking down a road in Burkina and see a ripe mango on a tree, for pete's sake, DON'T touch it! There is NO free food in Burkina- resources are scarce and people go hungry. That tree belongs to someone and they know exactly how many mangos are on it. I just heard from a missionary friend how one of her womens' projects has just about come apart due to an arguement over a mango tree. Did our medieval ancestors come to blows over chestnut trees? No doubt they did.
Anyway, back to that rain. I went out and stood in it. It smelled funny, as the first rain always does. It has to clean six months worth of staleness. But it was nice. Water out of the sky! What a concept!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hello- no need for intros, as this is for friends and family . I highly doubt that anyone else would find my life good reading material. Over the years, JP has told me that I MUST write something, that I really SHOULD at least keep a journal....He's right, of course. Some of the details of our first six and a half years here are fading now. But if I can keep this blog going, at least the next two years won't be lost. And I'm hoping it will be a good way for all you kindly and uncritical folk to keep up with what we're doing over here.
If I have written you an interesting email about some event that has happened here, don't be surprised to see it posted here eventually. If I've written to my Grandad Art ( Hi Art!) about a big mask dance, I have done my best work for him and will not write a whole new version for this blog.
Why am I starting this today? It's because I don't feel up to anything else. I had an emergency root canal yesterday and I feel like I've been punched in the mouth. Yes, we do have dentists here. The one we go to is with a Seventh Day Adventist Mission. They have a very nice, clean clinc here and bring in dentists from South America. Dr. Oliveira was surprised to see me yesterday, as the appointment was for Severin and I had just seen him for a broken tooth last week. I had suffered some-ok, a HUGE amount of pain in the week since I'd seen hom. I thought he could just have a quick look and tell me if it was going to go away on it's own. Nope. It was a second broken tooth- and the nerve was exposed!!!
"You've had this for one week? Most people find an exposed nerve unbearable !"
"Well, I've gotten used to it. You take codeine and ibuprofin and it's not so bad..." I answered. What's unbearable about it? In the Real Heart of America (Nebraska) our motto is "Could be worse". Yeah- the tooth hurt, but it didn't hurt as much as giving birth to a 9 pound baby at home without any pain meds (been there, done that). It was bad, but life goes on...
"You are going to have to have a root canal" continued Dr. Oliveira.
"Fine. I'll make an appointment with your secretary on my way out. We'll do it another day, when you're less tired." I moved to take off the attractive blue paper bib.
"Oh, no! Right now! You can't go around like that with an open tooth! It is much too painful and will get infected. We'll start on this right now!"
Most of you probably know how the rest of this goes- the scraping and pulling and so forth.......
He eventually got is all cleaned out, then put a "bandage" on it. That's what he said.
"A band-aid on my tooth?" I said when I could talk.
"No, a temporary bandage. It's a filling to hold you over until we finish this in 12 days. Your mouth is a mess. You have to take antibiotics, plus more anti-inflammatory medications. When you have no more symptoms, we will finsih the job."
There's MORE?????
Oh well, could be worse. Probably.

So here I am. By the way, I have a lot of broken teeth- but it's not from crunching hard bits of dried elephant meat or mango pits. I tend to grind my teeth under stress and have a very deep bite. One thing that makes me grind my teeth REALLY hard is the idea of going to the dentist...........