22 October 2007

cow invasion

I’ve run out of things to say. We’re just living here. The same things happen every day: we eat the same food, the ladies who do the wash refuse to wash my pajama shorts (something about not washing underwear – it’s NOT UNDERWEAR), I try more things to get rid of the stomach problem, the sun shines hot and then disappears behind clouds just in time to limit our evening electricity, I work on writing human rights trainings, I learn a bit more Arabic (now featuring “good morning” and “good afternoon”), the cows invade the compound…

Did I mention the part where we now share our compound with cows? When I left for my travels around South Sudan, we were a compound free of livestock, other than the chickens we bought to eat for dinner. When I came back, the fence had fallen in. In numerous places. This is what happens when someone decides to make the fence out of (bizarrely expensive) “local materials” which are actually palm fronds, which don’t actually grow here, they grow a few counties over, and then the budget is blown and when the fence falls in THERE IS NO MONEY LEFT IN THE BUDGET TO FIX IT. I have this to say: buy some freaking chain link. Don’t try to do this local materials thing if you aren’t willing to go out and get new fronds every few weeks like the women here do. (Women are in charge of fencing. This I learned from a workshop discussion of gender roles. Women are also in charge of most everything else, except a few aspects of building houses and the all-important sitting around drinking tea and discussing politics. Oh, and the money from the selling of cows. Women are not in charge of the money, ever.)

Meanwhile, two mother goats with twin kids each have decided that our compound is a lovely sanctuary for eating of the few-and-far-between bits of grass. Herds of cows trample through on a regular basis. There is no experience like stumbling out of your tukul in the morning to head to the latrine and tripping over 1. cow dung or 2. a baby cow. The guards and cooks chase the cows away when they see them but me? When I try to chase cows, even when I throw rocks at them, they don’t move. (Fine, I’m an animal hater. I throw rocks at cows. Everyone throws rocks at them. At least I don’t try to kill the owls for sitting on the top of my tukul or the dogs for howling, which most people do because those two things are supposed to be bad luck. Poor wounded limping dogs that hide in our shower for some shade and protection. I only throw rocks to get the cows OUT. Unsuccessfully. I might be more successful if I actually hit them, but I can't bear to hurt them.)

That’s it, pretty much. That’s what happens. Day in, day out. You’d think it would be more exciting, and obviously there are some more exciting things that happen occasionally, but they aren’t exactly blog fodder unless I want to be fireded. Or worse. So, nada. Maybe something FASCINATING will happen later today. I’ll let you know. More likely, I will just continue working and stewing in the frustration that is having a life plan but being on the wrong continent without phones and mail and therefore unable to take any steps to make the life plan happen and watching the months tick away while you get no closer to the implementation of the life plan. You know, that.

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