Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Great Cow Escape

The sun is rising over New Xade this morning. I woke up at 6AM and couldn't get back to sleep. The chickens are crowing, I bet they're thirsty. The water is still out, though the water department did send relief trucks this week to fill the water tower for us. That means that at 2pm yesterday, we all rushed to the pipes with buckets and bottles to fill whatever vessels we could with water.

I went to the office yesterday morning and met my friend Gakeleswe who was dancing around the slippery steps. You're dancing! Your're happy! I said. Yes! she answered. If someone is so happy, he or she could die! She laughed and then danced around more. I met one of my counterparts for the first time in weeks. He pulled me to him while we talked, Everything is just ok, he said, I'm just thirsty.

I came home to news that one of our peace corps family fell off a horse and broke her leg. This comes on the heels of hearing that another of our volunteers had to go home on emergency leave because there was a death in her immediate family. My head has been in a daze ever since. Then I got an email about the OVC grant I wrote months ago, I have to send in 3 quotations for every item in our budget and a support letter from the district aids coordination (DAC) office. This would be all fine and dandy, except that we have no stores in New Xade and no transportation. I anticipated this months ago, but I guess I forgot, and things have changed within the support group. I no longer have the enthusiasm I used to.

I spent the afternoon blowing steam off in what's left of my garden, replanting a once- successful tomato plant that the cows and goats ate to a pathetic little stump. I planted big branches into the ground as a makeshift fence and ran string along side it. It's no defense against goats and other livestock, but at least it makes me feel good. It's temporary until I can get my hands on some shade-netting. As a final measure, I cut down acacia thorn branches (thorns as long as 2") and spread them out along the fence perimeter.

Last night I heard noises outside my house that sounded like construction. I thought perhaps someone was lifting lumber... in the middle of the night. I tried to ignore it until 8PM, when I grabbed a flashlight and, shaking, went out into the moon-absent darkness to check it out. I stood at the corner of my front porch shining the light into the recesses of my yard trying to see what was going on, looking at neighbors, looking down the street. Nothing out of the ordinary. Some kids playing, a donkey eating a tree by my fence. I couldn't figure out where the noise came from, so i took a step forward into the side yard, then around the corner, there, surrounded by bush, I came face to face with a large black cow who was drinking from the leaky pond in my backyard. I freaked out. He freaked out. He started running and I bent down to pick up a rock. I chased the cow around my yard until he tried to escape via the back gate which was closed. Stupid cow. I opened the front gate and tried to chase him out there, but he went back to the water pool, which coincidentally is right next to my newly renovated garden and precious tomato stumps.

When I went back to get him, I found 2 more cows. They freaked, I freaked out more and threw rock after rock at them, chasing them from my garden. Don't worry, I wasn't shooting to kill. I was afraid I would get trampled. Sometimes I lost sight of the black cow, until it's glinting eye caught the light. I chased the cows around in circles in my pajamas and flip flops until they finally left and I retired to my house, hoping no one saw the crazy white person. When I came in, I saw that my new warm sweat pants (gifted to me by steph) was covered in makgunda thorns and my flip flops were poked through with acacia thorns.Bird feathers and animal shit clung to the thorns like bits of sticky caramel popcorn. Defeated, I shed my shoes and did what I could with my pants. I went to sleep feeling dirty, the sharp ends of makgunda making it's way from pants to skin to bloodstream. I have no clean clothes. There is no water.

I spent the night inbetween sleep, trying not to clench my teeth, dreaming about quotations, the DAC office, and friends from the clinic back at home. I had bitter sweet dreams, sweet dreams, and just plain annoying ones where my dreams mimicked the hectic days of my life, chasing down store owners for donations and officers for signatures. I plotted and planned how to proceed with this grant. How to itemize the budget in such a way as to facilitate the collection of quotations. How to get transportation to collect quotations. How to get transport to bring the supplies back to New Xade. How to get out of this without a hit on my own finances. One trip to get quotations alone can cost me upwards of 50 bucks. How to get people to help me. Who can I count on? What am I doing? Who am I doing it for? There are currently 3 mac computers at the school for the teachers. The teachers say that they are broken. Sketto thinks they are lying. An old New Xade PCV says they simply don't know how to use Macs. What is a mac doing in the middle of nowhere anyway?

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