Saturday 13th September
Today there were a few clouds in the sky – the first I have seen for perhaps three weeks. It is actually rather nice to see some white amid the deep blue sky. I think that it is unlikely that I will experience any rain before I leave, though last year there was a shower in September. I hear that in the UK you have been blessed with plenty of rain yet again! I hear that Ike has been doing damage in the US maybe it might also further disturb the weather in the UK eventually.
There are a few plants outside my flat that attract butterflies. Today a beautiful bright and colourful butterfly hovered around for some time. Many butterflies here are relatively large. This one was 10-13cm (4 – 5 ins) across. Sometimes flocks of small birds halt on the banana plants outside my window before continuing their journey.
In the bathroom I have a couple of handsome spiders that rest on the wire mosquito netting. I suppose these measure about 1½ - 2cm (just under an inch) – that's the body. With the legs they probably measure 8 – 10 cm (3 - 4 inches). I regard these as rather modest in size but I seem to recall that Dilys thought they were rather large. I suppose you get used to what is around you. Today I also noticed a small frog (only 2 -3cm in length). I have had resident bath frogs like this before. They are a very light orange in colour and make me think of albinos. There are also house lizards that have a similar look to them – as if they could do with a week on holiday in the sun!
My impression is that it is greener this year than previously at this time of year. There is still some fresh green grass about and many of the paths have some grass rather than being dust and sand. There is also some water around in the form of small pools and wet ditches, although a lot of the pools that were here in July have now dried up. I have been told that sometimes the water in the little dam I visit dries up. Looking at the current level it is inconceivable that it could dry up before the rains this year.
Today I attended a memorial mass for Rose who was killed two years ago in the same accident as my friend Bentoe. The anniversary is at this time.
I bumped into Luke in one of the grocery shops in the market and a little later was called across to another hospital employee – one of the important medical staff. He has just opened a grocer's shop in the main market. A number of hospital employees have set up other businesses to allow them to meet their daily expenses.
I had a few e-mails to send and I knew of at least one I needed to pick up. So I headed for the Internet cafe. It looked very hopeful as I opened Yahoo – however having logged in I had difficulty in opening my mailbox. I blame Internet Explorer – I can't remember having any problems with Firefox! Maybe I am just getting paranoid about Micro$oft! Anyway I eventually got into my mails and copied them all into Word documents just before the power went off! It was a pity that I didn't save them to my flash drive or even read them!! So that ½ hour will need to be repeated. It will be a delight to have high speed Internet again when I get home. When I asked the staff whether they thought the power might come back very quickly (It does sometime!) they said no it would probably come back at about 21 hrs. When power returned at 21.20 I thought that maybe they knew when it would go off! Pity I wasn't warned, I might not have wasted my time and money!!
Yesterday the hospital was launching their HIV/AIDS workplace policy and had a special VCT day to encourage staff and others to get tested. I was sending e-mails at the ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) and VCT centre. Some of the staff were queuing and they said I should join them. As a hospital we are trying to encourage everyone to get tested – including those who are sure they are negative. This is to help make the process become the norm and take away any stigma in visiting a centre. I therefore dropped off my laptop and returned for the test. The process involved giving a small sample of blood and a drop is put onto an indicator strip. After a few minutes the results are ready. Oh, and you receive a bottle of coke and a scone! I must admit even though confident of a negative result, wandering around here occasional you step on something and get a small cut and you regularly come across needles on the ground – last year I cleared quite a number from the garden. I wondered however about the many people here who are far from certain of their status and what those few minutes would be like. Fortunately there was only one line on the the indicator strip – meaning it was negative. I hope that I would have been able to say if there had been a second line.
Sunday 14th September
I made two trips to Our Lady of the Wayside church today. The first for mass at 10 hrs – which started at 10.25 (after the conclusion of the children's mass) and finished at 12.30.
Returning to Homecraft I met Lashford (the builder at Maluba School) he told me that his one year old child had died on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lashford and his family at this terribly sad time.
The second trip was to attend a Parish Council meeting. I spent a couple of hours listening to the proceedings (in Chitonga) then introduced myself and said a few words. I thought that it was important to meet the church council, since I have been trying to develop a link and provide some support since 2004/5. I think I have been an official member of St. Veronica's Small Christian Community since 2005.
On the way home I called in to see Charles, as I was passing his house. The sun was low in the west as I approached his house and the moon was rising in the east. So as I walked north along the road it was very obvious why it was once again a full moon. With the moon and directly opposite each other at the same height above the horizon.
By the time I left Charles the sun had already set. Although reasonably bright I was expecting it to be dark before I reached home – forgetting of course that it doesn't get really dark here when thereis a full moon. It became obvious that once again power had gone and the only light was in fact from the moon. Though I kept expecting to see a light that was making the ground and buildings shine. I still find myself awestruck by the wonderful moon shadows. Now two hours later the power is still off so it will be the remains of the salad I prepared yesterday and some cold beans for supper.