Monday, June 22, 2009

Winter Wonderland?

When I was back home, a lot of friends and family made comments about how tough life in Africa must be and how it must be so hard to be away from all the comforts of home. Granted… life out here isn’t perfect and there is corruption, violence, and a handful of Lesotho-specific frustrations, I couldn’t really say with a straight face, that I was ‘suffering.’ I just couldn’t let rumors of mud huts, no plumbing, and mosquito nets spread among my loved ones. So I interjected and broke these stereotypes, admitting to a lifestyle that was far more comfortable than most imagined. With a furnished and guarded 2-bedroom flat, our very own reliable 4x4, cable TV, and lots of great road-trips close by, life out here isn’t so bad.

However, coming back after 3 weeks of blissful indulgence, great food, sunshine, and warmth, has really opened my eyes a little and I’ve been reminded that life is tougher out here and I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone. (Oh, how quickly those details fade while lying on a lounge chair soaking in the sun among friends!!). Maybe it was the harsh transition from Caribbean sunshine to wintertime gloom… or coming back from my newlywed high alone…or maybe The Fates are just getting back at me for advertising my “easy” life is in Africa, but this past week hasn’t exactly been the epitome of comfort!

Rather than giving into temptation and rambling on about my complaints, I thought it would be fun to just describe a few of my recent day-to-day experiences to give you a little picture of my life out here right now...from the comfort of wherever you are. Enjoy!

Day 1:
First day back, awake to gloomy Maseru day and start preparations for work. Having turned off water geyser while away, hot water tap sputters out barely-luke warm stream. Contemplate not showering, but reconsider due to 48+ hours of traveling and 72 hours since last shower. Turn shower on. Warm water stream comparable to force of a gentle trickle. Tub feels like block of ice on already-numb toes. Contort self into very strange positions, trying to avoid shock of cold water on unsuspecting back. Manage to shampoo and rinse in record-time. Note presence of visible breath while in shower.

Lunchtime. Arrive at home to discover water has ceased to flow altogether. (Also note TV has been shut off while away. Must resort to good old-fashioned books for entertainment.) Planned pasta lunch with hot tea must be swapped for can of beans with heated cocktail-size chicken nuggets, left over from house party approx. 3 months ago. Note unnatural gumball shape of nuggets. Bake anyway. Note that honey has frozen solid in kitchen while away. Resort to leftover ketchup in fridge. Yumm.

Day 2:
First driving blunder since back. Trying to find parking at grocery store. All spots full and impossible to go against one-way road in parking lot for alternate parking. Must exit lot and come back in. Get wedged between two unwilling drivers, unable to go through exit. After multiple arm gesturing and rearview mirror glaring, one vehicle slightly reverses, barely allowing me to exit. Now stuck behind line of 4+ vehicles awaiting petrol en route back to parking entrance. Total wasted time: approximately 25 minutes.

Day 3:
Tough time adjusting to cold (and lack of indoor heat) past few days so promised self hot bath in evening. Turn on hot water tap. Trickling water will result in minimum one hour to fill tub with barely-hot water. Cleverly decide to supplement tub water with boiling water from electric kettle in kitchen. Fast-forward to 5 kettles and forty minutes later. Tub still luke-warm. Drain tub and repeat shower experience from Day 1, record time again.

Well, I think you get the picture, right??

Going through these experiences may be rough at the time, but they definitely help me appreciate the little things that come along. For example, I have learned to really appreciate the joy of a ridiculously early bedtime. (I'm too ashamed to spill details but let's just say these days the sun sets by 5pm.) I also love the simplicity of an evening in with good book, a glass of wine, and a few candles. Also, being so cold in the evenings has forced me to recognize and appreciate the rare moments of warmth. I have to say there are very few things that compare to the amazing sensation of slipping under the covers after the electric blanket has been warming up for at least 20 minutes.


It may not be the Caribbean, but it definitely is bliss!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

It's life - real and messy and tiring but yours, all yours, and it's wonderful, right?