"Transport is necessary in achieving a wide range of objectives including economic growth, personal welfare, governance and empowerment as well as security." ~ P. Njenga & A. Davis, Drawing the Roadmap to Rural Poverty Reduction

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I GOT WORMS! No, seriously.

On Toilets (an Ode to Dysentery)
When one travels to Africa, there is, without a doubt

a phenomenon that, simply put, one cannot do without.

It's the world's quickest weight loss plan, a miracle unsung!

A wond'rous thing of pit latrines, bacteria and dung!

You see, when one consumes some food or drink that's not so pure,

(it's three weeks 'till things take off, so it's hard to be quite sure)

bacillae or amoebas come to live in one's intestine,

and then begins the beauty of this marvelous infection.

It hits you like a freight train in the middle of the night,
with fever, chills and muscle aches - it's sometimes quite a sight!

At first, you think 'Malaria! My brain is gonna swell!'
But then you realize your tummy doesn't feel so well.

The next few days (or sometimes weeks) are spent between the john

and whatever piece of furniture you've chosen to lay on;

a brave man gets outside and does his normal day's routine,

but smarter men venture not far from their own pit latrine.

Oh, Pepto, Tums, Mebendazole!

(Can't take that with alcohol!)
Praziquantel and other tasty drugs!
Worms that make you have to poo!

Giardia and Schisto too!
Why did God create these awful bugs?

Twenty-five pounds later, when you're eating once again,
and after twenty minutes, it's not at the other end,
You can smile at the pounds you've lost off your grande patootie,
In Africa, remember, this is practically one's duty.

...pun absolutely intended.

If it's not self-evident, I've spent the last couple days inside with a case of ankylostomiasis. For those of us who don't know (I sure didn't), that's a parasitic worm that reproduces in the intestines and lays eggs around your body - I've just come top find out it's hookworm. Delicious. The downside is that I have to run to the bathroom every half hour and have lost a pretty substantial amount of water, but hey, I'm dropping weight. I like the way Sam Lightner, Jr. describes it in All Elevations Unknown, as having the upside of a 'Jenny-Craig-on-steroids diet'. Jess, for the second time, took my poo sample to the hospital and brought home some drugs that put me on my back for a couple of days. It's not fun, but it gave me a chance to catch up on some accounting and writing for my ASME article.

The past weeks have been very busy, and very exciting! We purchased all the materials for the vehicle, and are well into production. The production vehicle cost is going to be roughly half my initial estimate! This is very exciting, indeed! Jess and I spent the weekend of the 4th traveling all over the place, mostly by bicycle (roughly 50 miles), and mostly offroad. Next time I'm at the internet, I'll upload a video so you can see what it looks like over here. The mountains are really quite beautiful, but it was likely between 100 and 110 degrees outside during that ride - it made for an exhausting, sweaty trip.

The July 5 ride

To top off our long-awaited return home, our hot, sweaty, hungry, grumpy moods weren't helped when I (the genius), chipping out the bottles of cold water that were frozen solid to the freezer walls, managed to poke several rather large holes in the evaporator of the refrigerator, rendering it totally useless. All this, to find that night I had some sort of stomach bug that turned out to be worms. Awesome.

These things aside, Jess said when she had gone to a meeting in another village a few miles away, the farmers told her about my project (they had heard about it through the grapevine from Douvangar), and said they were really excited to see the results - they didn't realize that her 'mari' is the guy running that project. So, not only are my guys excited, but the farmers are excited too. Looks like a lot of the benchmarking and interviewing payed off, because they're saying if it works, a lot of their basic needs will be met.

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