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-Apparently babies in this country are different from babies in other countries. Tougher in some ways, and much, much more delicate in others. Now I don’t profess to baby expert, but Ive noticed some strange things.+Apparently babies in this country are different from babies in other countries. Tougher in some ways, and much, much more delicate in others. Now I don’t profess to baby expert, but I've noticed some strange things.
  
-Babies are carried around, not in strollers((Cmon, this is //​Africa.//​)),​ not in Mobius wraps (or whatever they’re called), but in...actually think about it for a second? How do you think they’re carried around? It’s not something I ever gave a first thought to, I’m curious what you come up with.+Babies are carried around, not in strollers((C'mon, this is //​Africa.//​)),​ not in Mobius wraps (or whatever they’re called), but in...actually think about it for a second? How do you think they’re carried around? It’s not something I ever gave a first thought to, I’m curious what you come up with.
  
-Basically, they bend over at the waist, put the baby face forwards on the small of their back, then wrap a blanket around themselves. So the baby is smothered face-first into the mothers back. What’s really funny, is sometimes the mothers will sit down without ​takeing ​the baby off. Now the baby is sandwiched between a (usually) large-ish woman, and the seat.((Luckily,​ they seem to have extremely flexible necks.))+Basically, they bend over at the waist, put the baby face forwards on the small of their back, then wrap a blanket around themselves. So the baby is smothered face-first into the mothers back. What’s really funny, is sometimes the mothers will sit down without ​taking ​the baby off. Now the baby is sandwiched between a (usually) large-ish woman, and the seat.((Luckily,​ they seem to have extremely flexible necks.))
  
 Another aspect to the ‘problem’ is people are extremely sensitive to the cold here. They wear their blankets in all weather, even in what I would consider to be pretty freaking hot. Therefore, they naturally wrap up their babies in ten times what they could possibly need. The poor things will literally be sweating bullets under layers of blankets and clothes. Seems a bit like torture to me. Another aspect to the ‘problem’ is people are extremely sensitive to the cold here. They wear their blankets in all weather, even in what I would consider to be pretty freaking hot. Therefore, they naturally wrap up their babies in ten times what they could possibly need. The poor things will literally be sweating bullets under layers of blankets and clothes. Seems a bit like torture to me.
  
-Which all brings me to the recurring incident of window-closing,​ which Ive mentioned before. Several times now, I’ll intentionally grab a window seat (you know, so I can //​breathe)),​ and I’ll have the window open a bit. Not even a lot, just an inch or two. And this lady asks me to close the window, because there’s a baby in front of me. A small baby. SO FR$@@!# WHAT. Is fresh air harmful to babies in some mysterious way I’m unaware of? JUST LET ME HAVE MY WINDOW OPEN AGGGGGHHH.+Which all brings me to the recurring incident of window-closing,​ which I've mentioned before. Several times now, I’ll intentionally grab a window seat (you know, so I can //breathe//.)), and I’ll have the window open a bit. Not even a lot, just an inch or two. And this lady asks me to close the window, because there’s a baby in front of me. A small baby. SO FR$@@!# WHAT. Is fresh air harmful to babies in some mysterious way I’m unaware of? JUST LET ME HAVE MY WINDOW OPEN AGGGGGHHH.
  
  
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-I write a lot about taxies. Imagine if, instead of your crappy car, you had to depend on somebody else’s crappy car, except that they were always giving rides to everybody in the neighborhood,​ and stopped at every door to make sure that person didnt want to ride.+I write a lot about taxis. Imagine if, instead of your crappy car, you had to depend on somebody else’s crappy car, except that they were always giving rides to everybody in the neighborhood,​ and stopped at every door to make sure that person didn't want to ride.
  
  
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 I was catching a taxi late at night((And by late at night I mean it was like 8.)) (always a bad idea) - but I suppose I should start at the beginning. ​ I was catching a taxi late at night((And by late at night I mean it was like 8.)) (always a bad idea) - but I suppose I should start at the beginning. ​
  
-One Tuesday, I opened my email to find an invitation to dinner with the ambassador, who was passing through town. I jumped at the chance for free food((What, you think I care about diplomats?​),​ and accepted immediately. I thought about what I’d order for the rest of the week. It was a tough decision, one that I didnt really make until seated at the table.+One Tuesday, I opened my email to find an invitation to dinner with the ambassador, who was passing through town. I jumped at the chance for free food((What, you think I care about diplomats?​),​ and accepted immediately. I thought about what I’d order for the rest of the week. It was a tough decision, one that I didn't really make until seated at the table.
  
 Actually, the dish I ended up getting was interesting:​ a giant metal skewer of meat and veggies hanging suspended over a plate of fries and more veggies and meat. I was satisfied.((Yes,​ most of my thoughts and memories revolve around food. Don’t yours?)) And you can bet I milked that free food all I could. I mean, the guy said get anything you want. A coffee before, and a coffee and cheesecake((Mediocre at best.)) after. ​ Actually, the dish I ended up getting was interesting:​ a giant metal skewer of meat and veggies hanging suspended over a plate of fries and more veggies and meat. I was satisfied.((Yes,​ most of my thoughts and memories revolve around food. Don’t yours?)) And you can bet I milked that free food all I could. I mean, the guy said get anything you want. A coffee before, and a coffee and cheesecake((Mediocre at best.)) after. ​
  
-A few other PCV aquaintances ​of mine were there, so after we went to the bar. I didnt actually ​dreak (drinking’s expensive), but it’s ​midly entertaining to see others drink, plus it’s good to talk to fellow Americans after a while. Ive discovered, all american jokes are inside jokes. They don’t transfer cross-culture. The point is, time passed at the bar, and by the time we headed out, dusk was falling. Now, dusk here is a bigger deal. Things don’t shut down at say, 8, they shut down at sundown. Taxis run until later, but prices skyrocket; it’s inconvenient to head out much past sundown.+A few other PCV acquaintances ​of mine were there, so after we went to the bar. I didn't actually ​drink (drinking’s expensive), but it’s ​mildly ​entertaining to see others drink, plus it’s good to talk to fellow Americans after a while. I've discovered, all american jokes are inside jokes. They don’t transfer cross-culture. The point is, time passed at the bar, and by the time we headed out, dusk was falling. Now, dusk here is a bigger deal. Things don’t shut down at say, 8, they shut down at sundown. Taxis run until later, but prices skyrocket; it’s inconvenient to head out much past sundown.
  
  
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-I said goodbye to the others, and headed into the little (microscopic) PC office (closet) to grab my laptop. I shut it down, and was set to go and make it to the taxies ​just in time - except wait! Windows is installing updates. Please do not unplug or shut down your computer.+I said goodbye to the others, and headed into the little (microscopic) PC office (closet) to grab my laptop. I shut it down, and was set to go and make it to the taxis just in time - except wait! Windows is installing updates. Please do not unplug or shut down your computer.
  
  
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-I found a taxi and crammed into the already-full backseat, and waited a good 20 minutes for the driver to finish whatever taxi drivers do to make sure I wait a decent amount of time.((Wouldnt want to leave //too// quickly, now would we?))+I found a taxi and crammed into the already-full backseat, and waited a good 20 minutes for the driver to finish whatever taxi drivers do to make sure I wait a decent amount of time.((Wouldn't want to leave //too// quickly, now would we?))
  
-We left. About halfway to my place, I see the driver patting himself all over, and looking in the floor, and soon everybody else is doing the same. He’s lost his phone. Great. So he turns the car around, //​races//​((I mean he was really booking it.)) back to town, to the taxi station, where he and the other passangers((No, not I. What am I, a peasant?)) jump out and go into a frantic search for the phone.+We left. About halfway to my place, I see the driver patting himself all over, and looking in the floor, and soon everybody else is doing the same. He’s lost his phone. Great. So he turns the car around, //​races//​((I mean he was really booking it.)) back to town, to the taxi station, where he and the other passengers((No, not I. What am I, a peasant?)) jump out and go into a frantic search for the phone.
  
  
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-A hike. For those of you who don’t care about hikes, just know it was the hardest Ive done //ever//, by far. It was that bad.((Or good, really.))+A hike. For those of you who don’t care about hikes, just know it was the hardest I've done //ever//, by far. It was that bad.((Or good, really.))
  
 There’s this mountain behind my town, that overshadows all others. It’s the Mount Doom of my area. From school, I can see it, from the taxi ride into and out of town. A lingering presence. It’s a flat-top, with steep sides, not too far away. There’s this mountain behind my town, that overshadows all others. It’s the Mount Doom of my area. From school, I can see it, from the taxi ride into and out of town. A lingering presence. It’s a flat-top, with steep sides, not too far away.
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 It started out easily enough, we found a (dirt, of course) road that took us //fairly// close to the base. That took us about 3 hours of rapid pace.  It started out easily enough, we found a (dirt, of course) road that took us //fairly// close to the base. That took us about 3 hours of rapid pace. 
  
-Then the bushwacking started. Not bad, at first. just enough to slow you down from lack of a defined path. Another hour or two of that brought us((Well, me. As soon as we left the road I pulled ahead and didnt really see them again until hours later, at the top. I’m not a good hiking partner.)) to the beginning of the insanely steep climb that would take us to the top. I mean //steep//. Hands and knees steep. At least 60 degrees. And no path.((I never really realized how valuable paths were until this day.))+Then the bushwacking started. Not bad, at first. just enough to slow you down from lack of a defined path. Another hour or two of that brought us((Well, me. As soon as we left the road I pulled ahead and didn't really see them again until hours later, at the top. I’m not a good hiking partner.)) to the beginning of the insanely steep climb that would take us to the top. I mean //steep//. Hands and knees steep. At least 60 degrees. And no path.((I never really realized how valuable paths were until this day.))
  
-I started up. At first it wasnt too bad, the brush was fairly sparse. But I was forced, from lack of better options, into a ravine. And the ravine was terrible. Underfoot, loose rocks that looked solid but would roll out and crumble underneath you as soon as you put weight on them, and brush like you can’t imagine. I had to force myself through, the branches grabbing at my arms and legs and backpack, holding me back. The mountain did not want me up. Well, scew the mountain. Every minute of that climb was exhuasting, and some were (slightly) dangerous. At one point, I was clinging to a rock face (with a pack, mind you), with my finger tips and knees, and a, if not deadly, at least extremely painful fall below me. But slowly, inch by inch, foot by foot, I rose above the foothills, the sun setting a dangerous and beautiful red at my back. I really don’t think I can make you understand how difficult, how painful this climb was. I even doubted I ‘d make it at some points, but a sort of fury at the mountain possessed me, and I threw myself with renewed ​vigour ​at clawing my way up. My water ran out about 2/3 up. I was sweating bullets from the effort, though luckily it wasnt that hot. +I started up. At first it wasn't too bad, the brush was fairly sparse. But I was forced, from lack of better options, into a ravine. And the ravine was terrible. Underfoot, loose rocks that looked solid but would roll out and crumble underneath you as soon as you put weight on them, and brush like you can’t imagine. I had to force myself through, the branches grabbing at my arms and legs and backpack, holding me back. The mountain did not want me up. Well, screw the mountain. Every minute of that climb was exhausting, and some were (slightly) dangerous. At one point, I was clinging to a rock face (with a pack, mind you), with my finger tips and knees, and a, if not deadly, at least extremely painful fall below me. But slowly, inch by inch, foot by foot, I rose above the foothills, the sun setting a dangerous and beautiful red at my back. I really don’t think I can make you understand how difficult, how painful this climb was. I even doubted I ‘d make it at some points, but a sort of fury at the mountain possessed me, and I threw myself with renewed ​vigor at clawing my way up. My water ran out about 2/3 up. I was sweating bullets from the effort, though luckily it wasn't that hot. 
  
-Near the top, where the ravine narrowed and deepened between two sheer cliffs, rocks started shooting alarmingly over my head. There was a sheperd ​with his herd there, and the goats were knocking rocks over the cliff. That was scary. As I drew level with the bottom of the cliffs, the brush finally died out, and the rest would have been easy had I not been so deadly exhausted. I made it to the top just as the sun dissappeared ​under the horizon, and the land lay in shadows for miles around, they sky still a deep red. It took me close to an hour. +Near the top, where the ravine narrowed and deepened between two sheer cliffs, rocks started shooting alarmingly over my head. There was a shepherd ​with his herd there, and the goats were knocking rocks over the cliff. That was scary. As I drew level with the bottom of the cliffs, the brush finally died out, and the rest would have been easy had I not been so deadly exhausted. I made it to the top just as the sun disappeared ​under the horizon, and the land lay in shadows for miles around, they sky still a deep red. It took me close to an hour. 
  
 I started a fire, and waited for Jeff and Julie. Jeff made it about 20 minutes later. Night was falling, and we were starting to prepare to worry about Julie, when in the darkness of the ravine below us we finally see her headlamp. Tough girl. Climbed alone in the dark. I started a fire, and waited for Jeff and Julie. Jeff made it about 20 minutes later. Night was falling, and we were starting to prepare to worry about Julie, when in the darkness of the ravine below us we finally see her headlamp. Tough girl. Climbed alone in the dark.
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-I think the climb down was almost as bad. We went down a different way, that took us down into a valley about twice as far as we had climbed up. Downclimbing a ravine, with the loose rocks, Julie fell a few feet and hurt her foot. Luckily she could still walk, albeit painfully. Still no water, since yesterday.((We could have refilled on the road, but we were still ok (even though I just brought a couple of quarts) and we waited for another source, which never came. Dumb.)) I had been out, and Julie and Jeff were nearly so. We finally found a water supply, and let me tell you, nothing is as good as water when you’re really thirsty. Here, a herdboy appeared, and showed us a (slightly) easier way down. It was nice, but it didnt last. Soon we were in the brush as thick as ever. At this point, Jeff and I split from Julie (we asked((Well,​ he asked. I just go my own way. If she had asked for help, I wouldve gladly obliged, but she insisted she was fine, just slow.))), and went down another ravine that she couldnt navigate with her foot. I think the thickest ​burhs of all was here. Every step burned like fire, my shins were scratched up to hell, but at least gravity was on our side this time. Even so, we reached a point we literally could not pass. But lo! A wild path appeared! To our right, it opened, and from there we were home free.+I think the climb down was almost as bad. We went down a different way, that took us down into a valley about twice as far as we had climbed up. Downclimbing a ravine, with the loose rocks, Julie fell a few feet and hurt her foot. Luckily she could still walk, albeit painfully. Still no water, since yesterday.((We could have refilled on the road, but we were still ok (even though I just brought a couple of quarts) and we waited for another source, which never came. Dumb.)) I had been out, and Julie and Jeff were nearly so. We finally found a water supply, and let me tell you, nothing is as good as water when you’re really thirsty. Here, a herdboy appeared, and showed us a (slightly) easier way down. It was nice, but it didn't last. Soon we were in the brush as thick as ever. At this point, Jeff and I split from Julie (we asked((Well,​ he asked. I just go my own way. If she had asked for help, I would've gladly obliged, but she insisted she was fine, just slow.))), and went down another ravine that she couldn't navigate with her foot. I think the thickest ​brush of all was here. Every step burned like fire, my shins were scratched up to hell, but at least gravity was on our side this time. Even so, we reached a point we literally could not pass. But lo! A wild path appeared! To our right, it opened, and from there we were home free.
  
  
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 THANK YOU MICHELLE AND HANNAH (and Dad) for the care packages! It’s like Christmas. I squealed many squeals of joy. THANK YOU MICHELLE AND HANNAH (and Dad) for the care packages! It’s like Christmas. I squealed many squeals of joy.
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lea/1505.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/06 08:59 (external edit)
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