Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time Moves Quickly!

How much do I hate it when I write a big, funny post only to have it get gobbled up by the internet? I hate it a lot. But no worries. I remember most of it! Ahem. Begin again.

I bragged when we arrived about how I was impervious to jet lag, but apparently mine was just a late-onset variety. For the first few days in Isinya I would be overcome with fatigue in the middle of the day, passing out for an hour at a time, unable to be roused. I had trouble falling asleep at night and I woke frequently to the sound of a single helicopter-loud mosquito (mbu in Swahili) on the other side of the net. Per my travel doctor's orders, we had dipped the net (as well as all of our clothes) in a solution of Permethrin, which is supposed to kill insects on contact. But they seem gleefully undisturbed by it.

Since then we've settled to a good sleep pattern. Sleeping late is not very easy because on one side of the house the sun rises with the strength of a hammer hitting an anvil, and on the other, the first shift of flower-farm workers (1,500 strong) uses the road right on the other side of our fence, and they are very chatty with each other. But that's okay; we don't need to sleep late. We have opted for the sun. Clang!

Many people shared their horror stories about nightmares caused our antimalarial drug, Lariam (aka mefloquine), which we take weekly. My friend Kate told us of an acquaintance who woke to find herself being strangled by her spouse, who was in the grip of particularly bad Lariam-induced night terrors (which: thanks Kate!). But so far, we have experienced nothing scary except for Stephen King's The Shining, which I am reading aloud to Bridget a chapter or two a day. Other friends, concerned for our sobriety as well as our sanity, warned us of mefloquine's hallucinatory effects, but so far we have seen nothing remotely trippy. So what gives? Did we get a dud batch? We bought it stateside so we're fairly sure it's not counterfeit. I guess we'll just see if we get Malaria.

We are learning to cook with the locally-available produce, which does not offer a huge variety. But we can get and cook with tomatoes (nyanya), carrots, onions, potatoes, rice, dried beans (soak for six hours, cook for 1.5), kale-like greens (sukuma wiki), and tiny hot peppers (pili pili). UHT milk needs no refrigeration, and we use a mountain-climber-style french press for our coffee. My doctor (who Bridget thinks is an overly fussy alarmist, probably of weak moral fiber) also advised us to soak local produce in a dilute bleach solution for an hour before eating it. Unless, of course, we boil it. Anyway -- we are eating well and have suffered no drastic gastrointestinal distress.

Ah yes, the entire purpose of our visit! This topic deserves its own post -- probably several. I will just say that I am excited about having gotten myself up and running to the point where I can now reliably connect to the internet, keep my computer charged, and even print out documents on the one local (laser!) printer. The local PCs still need a lot of work and care, and hopefully some of them can be resurrected.

Tonight, I will teach my first special class (i.e, not just guest-teach an existing regular class). We announced our extracurricular offerings yesterday (which the kids will have to take during the afternoon "games" period) and my Tuesday singing class drew a huge crowd. Our first song will be "You Won't See Me" by The Beatles. I am nervous! Wish me luck!


  1. I am still not totally sure what you two are doing, so I am looking for the explanation.

    I got malaria last time I was in Ghana and when I came back to New York, the doctor gave me a mega dose of Lariam which made me crazy and paranoid for about a week or two. The first few days when I noticed how bad I was tripping, I went online and Googled the drug and came across a bunch of websites with titles like "I wish I'd never taken Lariam" or "My life will never be the same after the horror of Lariam", so I proceeded to vomit as much as I could (advice from one of the sites) to get it out of my system. I swear that I still don't think it is all gone. I occasionally get this weird spacey underwater feeling and I am certain it is a Lariam flashback. That stuff is dangerous.

  2. oops i meant to write "looking FORWARD to the explanation"

  3. just a thought for the beans: can you get a cheap pressure cooker? takes 10 minutes to make the same beans. we use one every night. sohrob learned in india.