It is my favourite time of the month: the moments when we pay Lucia for cleaning our office. Lucia comes once a week and washes the floor in our small room of an office. And she takes out most of our trash – except for the things that she thinks aren’t trash like glossy paper. At the end of the month when she comes to collect her money we, being good financially-responsible MCCers, get her to sign a receipt. This is where the hilarity begins.
Every month when we ask Lucia to sign the receipt she starts laughing. She laughs as she grabs the pen from my hand and asks where to write her name. She laughs as she carefully marks the receipt and then asks if it is ok. She laughs as she leaves our office (I think because kawajas (foreigners) ask such strange things of Sudanese). And we laugh with her because laughing is great medicine.
So today I learnt that old jokes sometimes never get old.
Above: laughing Lucia
This past weekend I learned about palm tree maintenance. It was while we were hanging out at fellow MCCers’ house. They live on the edge of town and their compound is surrounded by small tukuls and trees. Our place, on the other side of town, is surrounded by a busy road, low flying airplanes, a loud school compound, smelly latrines, and hundreds (well maybe not quite but it sometimes feels like that) of children who have taken to peaking in our windows. Sometimes we need to go to fellow MCCers’ house for a weekend getaway. Where was I? Oh right. Palm trees.
Our area of Sudan has two very distinct seasons: Dry and Wet. During the dry season it is D R Y. Nothing grows and almost all green things die. About ½ of the palm trees’ leaves become large brown dried masses that hang haphazardly on the trunk of the tree ready to fall and maim an innocent bystander at any given moment. Did I mention that snakes also love to live in these trees? It is true.
So, other than the above thoughts I didn’t think much else about our palm trees.
Then on Saturday I saw one go up in flames!
It was amazing to behold and sort of like fireworks – Sudan style.
The next morning we saw a fresh palm tree with a smooth trunk (no more snakes houses) and only green leaves at the top. Beautiful.
Now I look around me with new eyes and I see many unmaintained palm trees. And I want to light them on fire. How about Palm Pyrotechnics for Peace? We could get people to channel their revengeful thoughts away from killing people and towards burning palms trees. Yes, perhaps this isn’t a sustainable solution to revenge killings but maybe it is the band-aid we need until the sustainable solutions start working. And think about how pretty all the palm trees in Rumbek and Lakes State would be!
For another hilarious tongue-in-cheek blog (with additional serious comments) about our current fuel crisis in Rumbek please go to fellow MCCers’ webpage. (http://jantzis-in-rumbek.blogspot.com/2011/05/dude-sits-alone.html) It is true that we are in a fuel crisis in Rumbek with the borders between the North and South closed. The South’s divorce from the North has seemingly become bitter with conflict over Abeyi, a trade embargo (fuel and food), and now my internet (a dial-up modem with the service provider from the North) seems to have been cut off. This is making our lives a bit more stressful and our work a little more hard to do (How do we drive to parishes with no fuel? How do we network without sort of reliable access to email?). We are learning to make do with what there is – biking around town, using alternative internet sources, and focusing on work here in the Rumbek parish. I have also learned that fuel reproduces itself in litters. I have seen this documented in two different news sources so it must be true.
Above: Our vehicle and office = sort of stalled.
And there you have it. Some new things I have learned this past week.
Next week we are flying (if the plane has fuel) to Marial Lou – a small fly-in community in the bush. We are going for a week-long trauma healing workshop which we are helping to facilitate (but as you may see I am procrastinating from preparing for it). I am sure we will continue to learn many things. And perhaps the palm trees in Marial Lou will have a sleek new look when we are finished.