Thursday, October 23, 2008

Like A Dump

I’ve been feeling slightly bad today because Adam couldn’t sleep last night, uncomfortable on our tiny hard and probably breaking twin bed. He tried to sleep on the couch and in the suitcase (?!) but he is being feasted on by mosquitos that I think Cleve and I don’t even notice anymore. And he has a slightly bad tendency of scratching himself until he bleeds, which makes for unpleasant and definitely unsafe scratchy wounds on himself.

And I become more and more aware that he might be secretly unhappy, because he is, indeed, only here for me. I am glad that he and Cleve went to see the chimps two days ago and that he got a chance to play with Kathe, because it is definitely the creation of joy like that in another being - listening to a chimpanzee laugh - that makes some of the other accompanying hardships a lot easier.

And Congo is harder than a lot of other African countries I’ve lived in. Between the bribery (see entry) and bureaucracy (see entry) and the French, it asks a lot of you, and, as Cleve says, “makes you old.”

Honestly, our house here is nice. The people inhabiting it are nice (including us) and we’ve got a good routine going. We all spend about $4 in total and have fresh bread and tea/coffee for breakfast. Dido is a good cook, and sometimes makes us some exciting meals, like our tomato/banana soup from lunch yesterday. We run the generator at night and recharge all of our crutch-electronic devices. We do actually HAVE a toilet, AND a bathtub!

But the toilet doesn’t actually flush - you pour water from a huge barrel down into the bowl until finally your deposits vanish. The bathtub is pretty dirty and doesn’t have a plug for the drain, so the only option is really to stand in it to bathe with your icy cold, freezing water. Yesterday I took a “bath” during an inopportune time, so the cold water wasn’t refreshing, and the bathroom, honestly smelled like a dump.
(It could be worse - it could always be worse - like in Buta where we squatted on the ground over a porcelain hole in the floor and you tried to pee/etc without getting any splashback or missing the hole. And then got to shower in the SAME ROOM! Woo!)

Or the nights where you feel like if you ate one more bean you just might die.

Wondering, in the evening, why spaghetti is a splurge? Why is it $2 a packet?

Overall I feel extremely happy. I’m preparing to start my research and collections -- Cleve is hoping for a group trip to Yoko before he leaves in mid-November. I feel like I can continue to do great things for the chimps here - already Mange is drinking milk from a bottle instead of eating banana and sweetened-condensed-milk-slop from a bowl on the floor like a dog.

But a big part of my overall hopes and aspirations involve Adam’s happiness, so I will continue to look for ways to improve that.

1 comment:

Brian said...

It may not seem like it now, but in about 2 months having the same thing to eat every day won't seem so bad. You may even get to like bean after bean after bean.

On a down note, cold baths/showers never get any easier. The best you can hope for there is hot days where it is refreshing.

Repeat your mantra. You are doing important research on chimpanzees! With chimpanzees! In the DRC! A half a world away from where you were born! While you are experiencing hardship now, remember this is AWESOME!