Rain, rain go away…
As you may remember from previous posts, such as the “bus incident”, when it rains in Swaziland you don’t (or shouldn’t) go anywhere. It’s been nearly a week since I have seen the summer sun in Swaziland. In fact, when I peer out my little hut window, I can’t see much of anything. The fog on the plateau is dense, covering everything farther than 2 feet from my window pane, in a blanket of white. I can barely make out the line of banana trees that line the edge of the hill and it reminds me of news clips on TV when a hurricane is on the way. Everything is being tossed around by the strong winds; even my heavy fleece blanket, still hanging on the laundry line- soaking wet after 4 days. Our homestead is on a steep hill, which has created a waterfall of mud streaming down past my front door. There are no puddles, the yard of packed mud and stone has become a lake. There is no walking through it; one step and the mud would grab onto you and hold you like a creature from the crypt. There is no option on days like this, but to stay inside.
To many people this kind of weather would make them grumpy, or restless. For me it transforms me into a Swazi version of Martha Stewart. I am amazed at the random projects I come up with to keep myself from going stir crazy.
While trapped in my house this week, I have given my hut a makeover. If you didn’t live in rural Africa, a home makeover would probably consist of a trip to Target, at the very least. I don’t have that option. If I want to paint, I can’t run down to the Hobby Lobby for canvas and brushes. If you want a new rug, you have to make it. You have to work with what you’ve got. Below are a list of things I have made in the last 7 days- and if your ever bored in your 1st world house, I included instructions 🙂
To make a hut a home, you really need artwork. I have a few misc tempera paints laying around, some flip-chart paper and a multitude of handouts from the peace corps. By tearing up the handouts, and letting them soak in sugar water, I was able to layer them onto the flip chart paper. Each layer, spraying the wet pages with hairspray, then let dry, and repeat 4 times. When the page is nice and thick you can paint! If you don’t have brushes, a rag will work for the large areas, followed by a Q-tip, comb or small sticks. So far I have created 2 new pictures for my house.
I have one light in my hut; in the shape of a single light bulb hanging from a random beam. I have often stared at it- wondering what I could do to make this thing look better, and less like lighting for a prison cell. STRING LATERNS! I’ve always wanted to make these, but never had the time. Turns out they are really easy! By mixing corn starch, water and glue- soaking the string- and wrapping it around a balloon you can easily create the cast. It only takes a day to dry completely and then you can hang it up. I made 3 of different sizes, and now have the trendiest light fixtures in Swaziland.
SCRAP FABRIC RUG
When we arrived in Swaziland, the PC supplied us with bed linens. If they were labeled, I’m pretty sure the thread count would be about 50. They were the scratches sheets I have ever had the displeasure of sleeping on- and were the first thing I replaced. They did go to use eventually… in the form of a rug. By cutting the sheets into ¼ inch wide strips I was able to crochet the fabric into a rug. I had some scrap, patterned fabric left over (from making purses), and used it as a border. 2 flat sheets made 2 rugs. Square for me, and a round one for my friend in a neighboring village.
In addition to the crafts I have also managed to get some work done. I am THRILLED to report that babe Gwebu will be returning to the Tikhuba Clinic. We had parted in mid December after one of the NGO’s supporting the clinic (specifically the HIV program) had lost it’s funding to continue paying for his salary. This was a HUGE disappointment. I had talked briefly with a director at another NGO, who referred me to a doctor looking for clinics in the Lobombo Region to work with. We’ve sent a few emails back and forth in the last couple of weeks trying to arrange a solution. Yesterday I was informed that they have hired Babe Gwebu back to the clinic in a new role, but in the HIV department. I will be meeting the doctor and Babe next week to learn the details of his new role, but am very excited to have him back. Working with him has been the most encouraging work prospect I have had in my village thus far, and having him back means our plans for projects have a shot at being fulfilled.
I’m also very excited that Chasing Horizon’s, my friends tour company, is up and running! I have spent the last few months helping my friend get this company off the ground. From creating a business plan for the bank, to purchasing the vehicle, creating a brand and marketing. It’s been a lot of work. I am still working on a few loose ends, like the website TBA, but all of the major elements are complete. Its been a learning experience for me, building a company from the bottom up, and while attempting to teach someone else the process. It has also been a lot of fun, and its been really awesome to help someone realize a dream project. 🙂 It will be amazing to watch it evolve and grow, knowing that I played a part in it.
I am standing in the middle of my tiny hut, armed with a broom and a fly swatter. This little black spec of annoyance WILL take it’s last flight today. I understand that my 4 x4 cell of solitude may be the last bit of warm, dry space left in the Kingdom, after 5 straight days of relentless rain- but you are not welcome here.
I swing like a mad man. Knocking over pots left on my stove and disrupting the pile of books on my shelf. I don’t care. A single bead of sweat is trickling down my forehead as I hold my breath and scan the walls for signs of life. Listening for the slightest buzz disrupting the damp silence. I have been inside for nearly a week- for an hour this morning I contemplated padding the inside of my walls… and then you snuck your way in. my door was ajar for a moment- just a moment, as I tried to tame the stale air of this cell with fresh oxygen from the outside world. Just a second, to keep the cement floors from puddling with water. I can not go out, but fly, you may not stay in!
I collapse on my bed, seething with frustration. You are still here… I know it. I adjust my pillows behind my head, and begin to read. I just need a distraction. By the second word, on the first page I can hear the echoing “buzz” ringing around my ears. It lands in the middle of my page. The nerve of this little infestation sends a wave of anger down my spine. I throw the book- swatting the air like a baby bird trying to leave the nest for the first time. It continues to buzz around my head. I have entered some prehistoric state- a hunter stalking its prey. I’m holding my breath, but grunting loudly through each aimless punch at the air. My jaw is tight, my teeth grinding. My heart is beating like a drum. Enjoy your last ascent, little black fly…
picking up my book from the dusty corner, I return to my bed. Lowering the mosquito net, hoping that the thin wall of separation will also cut out my frustration. But I can still hear it. It’s close. Too close. I try to focus on the words before me, but the letters scramble and all I can see is “BUZZZZZZ”. I loose it. I grab the travel size can of OFF, that came free with my sun screen and hold the trigger… waiting… watching… Make your move fly….
a black dot races across the room in front of me. If it can sense fear, it knows it has entered it’s last hut. I spray the tiny can. Holding down the trigger as the sticky poison is released, shooting through the air. I am screaming, but I can’t hear anything but the steady release of aerosol. It’s all happening in slow motion- like in a bad action movie when the good guy flies through the air shooting his pistol at his enemy. The can runs dry; it’s hard to breath. My house is covered in OFF, and the smell is potent. I open the door, coughing and holding my shirt over my mouth. It tastes like defeat.
As I stand, fanning the misty air with my front door, I give up. My heart is still racing. It’s not the fly thats the problem… its all this rain! This endless wall of rain! My house seems smaller than 5 days ago. I have gone whole days without talking to another living human being. Chasing this fly has been more physical activity then I have excreted in the whole of last week. It was never the fly- this is cabin fever.
I am starting to calm down- the fresh air is helping to clear my head. It’s getting easier to breath. I sit on the cool, damp cement floor, resting my back against the door jam. I giggle to myself for a moment- how ridiculous I have been. I’m sure my family thinks I’m insane. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see the little black spec resting on the screen of my outer door. Rubbing it’s little stick legs together the way that flies do. There is no energy left for round two; I just stare. It lingers for a moment, and then crawls to a small hole in the screen, it swings out in one steady movement and is gone. I hate flies.
This rain is making me go stir crazy. Forecast predicts 7 more days of rain resulting from a cyclone that has hit the coast of Mozambique. A cyclone… so they do exist….