Friday, September 23, 2011

I which I try to hoe and eat too much food out in Obule

A good day to glimpse life in the village. No pictures though because the sun is getting hotter and unnecessary weight as I ride my bike is kept to a minimum.  Margaret (wife of one of the church leaders out in Obule) has been sick and thought she had malaria so I offered to come out and test her. As I arrived at their huts I found Charles milking their cow. Margaret said she was feeling much better and started making tea. Within minutes I found myself with a hot cup of chi (made with very fresh milk, of course.) They asked to use my bike to get their water for the day so I waited then we walked together over to the church. It was a work day meaning the women get together and work in the field that the church owns. There were about 10 women hoeing seriously while the sun beat down mercilessly on them. Their kids (maybe 12 of them under the age of 3) were sitting in the dirt on the edge of the field.  I spotted the pastor sitting amidst all those kids. This is both normal and abnormal culturally. Normal that the women are the ones doing the hard manual labor but abnormal that a man was helping out with the kids. I’ve been weeding my own garden this way and I know I’m not nearly as tough as them but I asked if I could help a little bit. When this was translated they laughed and laughed but got serious quickly when I picked up a hoe. There was no way they were going to let me! I insisted and clearly against all of their better judgment they let me. Margaret started working next to me and Charles when to join pastor Emmanuel in the shade. In about 30 seconds I had to wipe the sweat out of my eyes and Margaret asked me if I wanted to stop. I laughed and told her I was fine. Two minutes later I stopped to tie my hair back and again she asked me hopefully if I was finished. Needless to say I stopped after only about 10 minutes of work because I was worried that the others were going to stroke out if I kept going. We continued on to a neighbor’s house where they served more tea. I love tea so even though it was nearing 100 degrees I enjoyed my cup. Then I learned that we were having tea to give the women time to cook. I insisted they did not need to feed me (I hate it when I go out there to just visit and they cook this huge feast for me who does not need all that extra food when they themselves do need it but they want so much to share with me) but they insisted that I worked so I have to eat. I tried to explain that the 2x2 foot square of dirt that I hoed didn’t count was working but they weren’t having any of it. So I sat as the kids chased a chicken and then beheaded it. I talked in the shade with the ladies. As is becoming a regular custom they started asking me health questions and I willingly answer anything to the best of my ability. We’ve talked about a variety of things and today was no acceptation.  Malaria testing and treatment, fever in kids, what causes vomiting, pain during sex, what is best for newborns and the list goes on and on. I finally found a time after we’d eaten that it seemed like I could excuse myself and head home. It was about a 45 minute ride and I was more than ready to get out of the sun by the time I had reached my house. But it was a great day and I’m glad I went out there.  

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