06 November 2007

day 6 :: brain roasting in heat

My favorite bird here is a tiny one. It is grey on its back and sky blue on its chest, face, and tail. Its beak is pink and each cheek has a large round red spot, like blush on an old-fashioned doll. It perches in bushes and flits around on the ground, never too far from the earth. I could watch it all day, although I suffer from that childhood urge to pick it up, to run around chasing it like a toddler following a rebellious pet. I just want to hold it in the palm of my hand and pet its little head.

But it’s a wild bird, so that wouldn’t be nice. Or, probably, pleasant for either of us.

I am currently sitting very very still (the top half of my body; not my hands, obviously, which are typing), trying to avoid being stung by the bee that is circling my head. When I was young, I remember hearing about this “don’t move when approached by a stinging insect” philosophy. Sitting outside for lunch at school one day in Buchanan, I tried it, and found it to work miraculously. A wasp landed on my leg, walked around for a while, and flew away. My classmates were staring in horror the whole time.

I’ve only been stung a few times since that life-changing discovery. One of them was just a few weeks ago in Juba, when a bee somehow got into my sleeve and I leaned my arm on a table, crushing it. It got in one last sting as it perished.

The sting of the East African honeybee has anti-malarial properties.

In an appropriately disjointed fashion, I will also mention that I have discovered that all of this town is not as horribly muddy and hot as our compound. On the other side of the airstrip, the lucky organizations are on higher sandy ground, with huge overhanging mango trees. It is positively comfortable to sit in their compounds. We have no trees, except small struggling ones that the invading cows are eating. I ask you, is this fair? I think not.

This bee will NOT leave me alone. It’s probably attracted by the sweat I cannot help sweating because it is, if anything, even hotter than the day that the air had a fever. I can’t check the temperature, though, because I gave the thermometer to my colleague whose little son was sick. I explained the use of the thermometer to him and then said, “If his temperature gets up to 103, wake up [Other Colleague] and have him drive you to the hospital.” I haven’t seen the thermometer since.

Now that I think about it, though, what is the high end of a safe temperature for a five-year old? I feel like it’s higher than 103, but I didn’t have the internet to tell me for sure, so I went with 103 because it seemed safe. Pre-seizure safe.

When I watched the weather on the news, I saw that it is hotter here than in Cairo, Dubai, or Jeddeh. Something is wrong with this picture. This isn’t even a desert.

It’s too hot to think.

Or to move.

Or to breathe.

A baby goat is trying to eat my computer cord.

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