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Saturday, 4 December 2010


Sky blue puddles turn to brown reflections of trees moments before the car tyres plunge in, sending frogs flying and turning the mirrored surface into a tidal wave crashing over the lip of the pothole in the dirt track. This happens time after time for over an hour as we make our way to Chona village. We accelerate to 30 km/h then brake hard for the next lake in the road. The once green landscape is slowly turning brown as farmers drive oxen drawn ploughs through the rich soil. Everyone is busy now that the rains have started to fall properly. We meet another HBC support group in Chona, numbering about 20 people. It’s the first time in weeks that I have been out with HBC as I’ve been too busy writing software. It’s nice to be back out. Nowadays when I go out with Monica (the HBC nurse) the formula is always the same. I have to introduce myself to the group so they know who/what I am. Afterwards when all the talking is done their personal medical files are distributed and I take up my own nurse duties. An ancient scale is placed in front of me and they line up to be weighed. I record their weight (reading numbers upside down turns out to be fun activity) and give them back their file. After all the weights are done we move onto blood pressure. A nifty little machine is used with an electronic reading which even I can manage to operate. Some people are all smiles as we go through this process, others are shy and a handful shows no emotion at all. Regarding the last group, I suppose they get so tired of the small old rigmarole every month that over time they just become despondent. Or they might just not like me (shock/horror!). Either way, I almost feel worse for them because I can’t help but feel like they have given up hope. I am glad to be of use though and it beats standing around feeling useless. After both of those measurements they go to see Monica who distributes various drugs including painkillers and ARVs (anti-virals) that help fight HIV. After my duties are done, I sometimes take out my camera and take some shots.

A consequence of the arrival of the rains is the absolutely amazing thunder and lightning storms. I have long been a fan of a good lightning storm and here I have been treated to, without doubt, the most spectacular storm ever! Picture a clear night sky dotted with bright stars directly overhead. Now look in any direction you wish and watch the cloud light up with flashes of white as lightning flashes. But still there is silence and the stars overhead, somehow out of place because you shouldn’t be able to see stars during a storm and why can you not hear any thunder? The flashes are constant because there is lightning everywhere but here. Sometimes you see huge streaks of fork lightning crashing to the ground to split trees, cause havoc and make babies cry. Sometimes the lightning even seems to go horizontal and then back up into the cloud. The best bit is that you are sitting outside, with good company and an illicit Castle beer in your hand, waiting to be called inside for a dinner you don’t have to cook for a change. This happened last Monday night as Jean Pedro and I sat outside “yellow house”, our local restaurant. We also had lightning Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Are you seeing the pattern yet? The side effect of the lightning is the electricity outages. At least three times this week we’ve lost power, often over night. Two mornings I’ve woken to find no Zesco (power). JP and I made a campfire Monday night though and ruined an aluminium pot making tea though, which was very nice. The last time I had made a fire was on a beach in Ardmore (Waterford, Ireland), many New Years eves ago with a girl who sadly, still means a lot to me but I no long see.

Last weekend was great. I went to a traditional Zambian wedding (don’t worry girls/mum, it wasn’t mine). Pretty much everything was different from a European wedding (like the bride arriving before the groom) and I think I was guest of honour. I also ended up making a fool of myself dancing with some traditional African dances on Saturday with a group of very talented young ladies from Mukanzubu, the Chikuni Tonga cultural centre. I believe the saying from the bible is: ask and you shall receive…

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