Sunday, October 22, 2006

Karugutu, week two – the ring of fire

(picture of the courtyard of my hotel in Karugutu, Uganda)

So I have nicknamed this week, week two of work in Karugutu - the ring of fire. The reason that it is named so will be related presently as the story unfolds. So Monday quickly rolled around (weekends always go fast when you know that you have a ton of work the next week…weekends just always go fast period). Monday morning we arose early 5:30am so that we could be on the road by six. It was still dark when we left, but the sunrise on the Rwenzori mountain range was gorgeous. There are some hot spring in the Semiliki Valley and as you are winding up the steep mountain side of the Rwenzori's you can see them doing there thing, which is to make as much steam as possible. They say that you can boil an egg in there – yet to be tested.

We make it to Karugutu without any hitches. Even though we left incredibly early, we still were not hiking up the mountain until around 10 o'hot in the morning. By 11am I'm sure that I had already sweated out my body weight. Awesome. We did get a lot of work done on Monday, especially the necessary masonry that needed to dry before we could connect the town of Karugutu on the next day.

When we hiked down the mountain in the afternoon, guess what. It was still hot. Sweltering hot. We got to the lodge to drop off our stuff and to bathe – oh yes, if you read my last blog I can no longer call it showering. The good news is that the water was refreshing. The bad news is that the concrete floor was still radiating heat into the room at 4:30 in the afternoon (it would continue well into the night). It was probably the worst nights sleep that I have had while here. I would wake up about every thirty minutes to whip the sweat off of my body. It was grossly hot and there was no circulation in the rooms.

The second day I awoke tired and not ready to climb the mountain again. We awoke early to beat the heat and instead we ran into another nemesis – rain. We delayed the climb for a bit and when the rain held off we headed up the mountain. Slowly but surely it is getting easier.

One neat little story from this day is that the storehouse where we keep are supplies is attached to a little compound. There is always this sweet little girl who comes in to look at what we are doing. She is too young to really speak at all, but she says "hi, majungu" and bye. Well she happened to be there while I was putting water into my camel back (it's a little bag that you wear on your back with a hose for water). Well as I was pouring the water into the bag (it's very flat and doesn't look like it would hold water), she kept looking underneath to see where the water was coming out, but was completely surprised to see it disappear. Oh the little joys!

Up on the mountain we connected the city of Karugutu to the water intake, we measured the flow rate to make sure that we were not taking more than the city needed to fill the reservoir tank over night. The goal of that is to be environmentally friendly as possible so as not to damage any ecosystem by completely diverting the stream, but to also meet the needs of the town. It is no easy task to measure a large water flow with a basin and a stopwatch!! We finished up a few other little odds and ends, took some video and marched down the mountain. The night was much cooler.

For dinner we had an interesting mix of beef, matoke, and tilapia. An interesting fact, they don't get too mad when you go into one restaurant and when they don't have enough of what you are looking for you send someone to a nearby one to get some more food. So the tilapia was from on restaurant and the beef from another. Interesting. Also I have finally figured out why every meat comes in soup form (with juice). It is because the side dishes, matoke and poshu, are very bland and you spice them up with the "au ju" as the French like to say (who knows if I even spelled it right). Good stuff if done right.

The evening was much cooler. Praise God for a cool breeze.

The third day our plan was different. We had to go around town to change the head taps from a regular (and most of the times broken) head tap to a self closing valve to conserve water. I was also marking each tap with the GPS and altimeter and writing down this info into a field handbook. Quite a lot of work when there are approx 25 taps and they are spread on three lines each terminating about a kilometer from the main city square. So I walked over 6 km just today. Lot's of movement by feet here in Bundibugiyo district.

Every where we went the kids would yell out: "Majungu, how are you!" It sort of was parrot like, because they would just keep repeating it because they were unable to understand your response. However, it made for a funny moment because later in the day another Majungu passed in a vehicle and I was like "ah, Majungu!" The Ugandan technicians that I was with about rolled over laughing. It's funny to get a glimpse of what they see. I later found out that from her husband in fort portal that she is doing research on deforestation in Uganda (you sort of know every other white persons business because there's not much going on in Bundi).

So this brings be to the second reason that this week is: the ring of fire (queue Johnny Cash). So all this walking around in a long sleeve shirt and hat to keep the sun off only worked so well. Without my knowledge the little old sun was scorching my neck. I am sitting here in Ft. Portal with what looks to be a very red turtle neck except minus the shirt. It's pretty hilarious. Ring of fire. The cost of this wonderful fashion statement? Hives! I have broken out into a wonderful, full body case of the hives. Doxycycline, the medicine that I am taking for malaria prophylaxis can make you extra sensitive to the sun. So I am sunburnt and have the hives. The hives actually aren't too bad – there are just a few per limb and I'm actually too tired to really care.

Ok, I've taken some Simply Sleep (which is basically benedryl) on the doctors orders, I called the docs on the team and they gave me instructions. What this means is that I can barely make the words out on the computer screen anymore because of sleepiness and I have a strange urge tell all of my deep dark secrets. So I better shut this thing down. I hope that all in the US are well and in the constant presence of the Lord. I also hope that no one has a burnt neck and hives. On a serious note, please be praying for my teammate Joy. She is having very bad back pain and may have to travel to the US prematurely for treatment. She can't sit down the pain is so bad. Pray for God's immediate healing of her back. Fast and pray. In Him who is able –

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