Monday, February 22, 2010

Africa impressions

After we hit the ground in Africa the first thing I noticed was the unrelenting heat and humidity. Sweat drips down your forehead and runs down your back. I remember new waves of sweat appearing as I dried off from my shower to wash off the sweat. Any breeze of almost any kind is welcome relief. A fan brings a smile to my face. And air conditioning, the little that seems to be available, is like entering into another world. One afternoon we took the temperature a few feet away from the shade tree we were sitting under - it was 108.5 degrees in the sun. The shade measured 94 degrees. We didn't venture out into the direct sunlight unless we had to.

Since there was little or no electricity in the parts of Sierra Leone and Guinea we visited the nights were pitch black, blacker than anything I can remember experiencing back home. Both nights we stayed in an African motel in Tanene I stayed outside after the others had gone to bed. I wanted to peer up at the night sky and feel its vastness and awesomeness. There was literally no man-produced light anywhere. The stars seemed bigger and brighter. The striking contrast between light and dark, black and white was stunning. I saw clusters of far-away stars that I had never noticed before. Orion lay straight above me and shined brilliantly like it was lit up by neon lights. I felt like a pin head, a grain of sand, a speck of dust.

I will never forget the taste of cold water. In the African heat drinking lots of water is a necessity in order to avoid dehydration. We drank filtered and bottled water. Ice is hard to come by because electricity is hard to come by. What you end up doing is drinking lots of lukewarm water on hot, hot days to quench your thirst (or at least attempt to). I have a memory of drinking a cold bottle of water. The situation surrounding the cold water is blurred in my mind. I know it was at Sam and Josephine's. The generator was running. This meant the refrigerator was running and the water was chilling. We walked into the house and were handed bottles of cold water. I quickly opened mine and took a long, deep drink. I will never forget that moment and how good and sweet and cold the water tasted. Simple things in Africa are huge.

While in Africa you eat like the Africans, at least we did for most of our trip. I developed three categories of food - the dishes I enjoyed, those that I was slowly learning to enjoy, and those that I wasn't sure if I could ever enjoy. The one thing I looked forward to eating most when I returned home was a Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apple. Either one would do. I craved a sweet, crisp, juicy apple. And to my great delight, when Heather and the girls picked me up at the airport, they brought me a cut-up Honey Crisp apple!

P.S. the picture is of me and Alliance missionary Phil Stombaugh standing outside the Alliance Guest House in Conakry, Guinea

No comments:

Post a Comment