Saturday, September 3, 2011

Last Tuesday

Tuesday, my morning shower arrived in a jerry-can. I hadn't washed my hair in a few days, so I was pretty excited, but not as excited as I was when the water turned out to be steaming hot.

My ride to work was by piki (motorcycle taxi), which started on a dirt road, but quickly diverged onto a thin footpath that ran up and down rocky hills. We passed farmers working in their fields and already sweating in the morning sun. Occasionally, at unclear forks in the road, we stopped to ask them for directions.

My first meeting was beneath a tin-roof, in a mud-walled church near a water pump. I struggled to understand the Field Manager - she was switching between the national and local language, the former I understand poorly, the latter not at all. But her energy was infectious and the farmers she was training were engaged. Some even took notes.

My mind was on my desk work throughout most of the morning. I needed to figure out how to solve the issue of Sikulu - why were their harvests so low? And my cattle profitability survey lay unfinished on my living room coffee table. These two projects ended up consuming most of my evening following our weekly collaborative meeting, which, in the past, has covered everything from maize storage techniques to reducing errors in data entry, and once even asked the question, how can we reach 1.1 million families by 2020?

I skipped sports.

My dinner was in a thatch-roofed hut at a long table. We talked about our days, our projects, our families, and about just how delicious our tacos tasted. (Dinner is always tacos on Tuesday nights - but where was the cheese this week?)

My bedtime came at 10:00. I crawled beneath my mosquito net with a book about Russian literature. I lit the space with my little solar lamp - the rainstorm during dinner had knocked out the electricity. Ten pages about Isaac Babel, a writer "disappeared" from the Soviet Union in 1939, and I was asleep.

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