Friday, December 10, 2010

Hurrah normal service has been resumed

Thursday 9th December


Fr Edward Hays suggests that we should make more use of this expression of delight. He says that it is believed the word is derived from a Slovenian word meaning Paradise!

Today I found another missing file and Hey Presto! my laptop started to look more like the one I remember from a couple of weeks back. It appears to be functioning normally now. There were a few initial error messages, but even those haven't appeared recently. So Hurrah indeed, I am in Paradise!

To add to my joy, as I returned, soon after the fix, from buying a loaf, I was greeted by a few swallows – those that left our shores back in September/October. They played excitedly gliding through the gate to Homecraft and almost brushing my legs as they pursued their game. I stopped for a while to marvel at their antics. It was at University watching the swallows that inspired me to learn what they were called and to distinguish them from their cousins, the martins and swifts, with which they often associate. It isn't the first time that the swallows have appeared to announce joy and remind me of the ever present Lord, who is behind everything good.

From a dirth of the wet stuff to a super abundance! The concern now is that the maize won't germinate properly because it will be too wet and, for those late planting, the fields are too soggy for ploughing. The past 4 or 5 days have been wet, with frequent showers throughout the day, but most particularly at night. A few dry days are needed now to restore the equilibrium.

I can't remember what I did yesterday! I must have slept throughout!! Oh yes! Now it is coming back to me! I spent the morning on the computer writing some reports. At lunchtime I went out to get some Frisco. With many products here Coca Cola and Nestle have a monopoly. I do my best to avoid both companies – and I would advise you to do likewise. A major problem I have with Nestle was the way they sold powdered milk – particularly in Africa – claiming that it was better than breast milk. For some of the babies this was disastrous – and tragic for their parents. Unfortunately we are all influenced by advertising – the multinationals wouldn't spend so much if it didn't work. Anyway I don't forgive such action easily – and the evidence is that Nestle hasn't made much improvement. I cannot get Fairtrade coffee in Monze but at least Frisco isn't Nestle!

I called into most of the small shops (one room kiosks) around the section of market nearby – but no Frisco. I got chatting to a couple of guys – the shopkeeper and a customer – and emerged over an hour later!One of the guys seemed convinced that “white men” where naturally more intelligent than their more colourful cousins. Again if your colonial masters continually tell you it is so, you are likely to believe it. I am endlessly pointing out that my grasp of languages is pathetic, whereas most people here speak several languages fluently. One of the guys admitted that he was only fluent in three languages – still that is two more than me! I enjoy discussions with the local people who are very far from unintelligent or ignorant. In fact they understand the art of discussion and debate, because talking to each other is what they do! Unfortunately back home we are too busy to talk to each other. The guys couldn't believe that I could walk through town in Cheltenham with no one greeting me – here it is unheard of. Sometimes I am walking along and get called back because I have been so caught up in my thoughts that I failed to notice someone greeting me – often a complete stranger.

The market sells all sorts! There are areas that specialise in certain items. So just opposites my gates the ladies sell groundnuts (peanuts) – often shelling them while they wait for customers. If I squeeze through a small gap past some wooden stalls and small brick built shops there is an open area where women sit on the ground selling onions, tomatoes, cabbages and other vegetables, and fruit. To the right as I leave Homecraft they sell chickens and turkeys – people here seem content to carry their supper home alive! - on the right hand side of the road, the stallholders sell secondhand clothes – probably most from Europe and the US. The lads on the left sell bags of sugar, soft drinks – and hard ones! (they have small sachets containing whisky, brandy and gin), they also sell bread from the local bakeries (we have two in Monze – Mummy's and Mwapona – a Tonga word meaning Hallo) and they sell some sweets and biscuits. So it goes on throughout the market with stalls which have almost identical stock sitting side by side. You can buy music CDs, parts for your plough, umbrellas, cases, get your bike mended or hair cut, if you know where to look, and all within a couple of hundred metres of my flat!

Jennipher came around just before 2 pm. In Pemba it had been raining since 19 hrs last night and it was still pouring when she left. She told me of a man who had recently been tested and found to be HIV+. Both his wives left him and took the children. One even damaged the thatched roof of his house before leaving him with nothing. He has been sick for a while – hence the test. Naturally for the spouse it is a shock to find their husband (or wife) is positive. I know in the UK it isn't unusual for the husband/wife not to tell their spouse. Of course the likelihood is that the other partner and maybe some of the children, will also be infected. It is people such as Jennipher that try to bring the families to an understanding of the disease and an acceptance of the situation. Jennipher is now a trained counsellor and would like many more to receive training – this would relieve her of some of the workload apart from anything else. Jennipher said that some of her group went to help the man, they made him some porridge and warmed some water for a bath, because the people here are feeling the cold. Jennipher will share some of her mealie meal (ground maize) with him.

This afternoon I called around at the convent where Bridget and Clara had filled my flexible bag with baskets and bags! It was all I could do to haul it back to my flat.

I called at the hospital and found that Judy's computer has the same version of Windows XP as my laptop so I took another copy of explorer. (Just in case the error messages kept coming). I bumped into Dr Mvula who showed me a letter demanding information by today. The letter was written in Livingstone yesterday and delivered today – I was impressed by the postal service and commented that it could have been worse – it might have been delivered tomorrow! We arranged to have a training session on ACCESS tomorrow. A very quick 8 hour basic course will need to be compressed into about two hours!! We will see!

I popped in to see Ireen. I was told to pick up my shirts on Tuesday, so I was a bit late. Anyway she has a patient in the hospital at the moment so they will be ready on Monday! Earlier today I decided I needed to leave Monze next Wednesday if I am to have any chance of retrieving my Work permit from Immigration, in Lusaka, before I leave Zambia. Still by Tuesday evening (sometime) the shirts will be ready – and they will be excellent!

As I passed Rasta Brian he called me back. He told me he was going to teach me how to box. He insisted that I put on a pair of boxing gloves and showed me how to throw a couple of punches, which he caught with his open palms. He called the moves and I throw the punches – and ducked when appropriate. I think that was meant to be the first of several lessons. I think Brian is hoping to become a boxer in order to get away from selling small items on the roadside. He is one of many intelligent guys in the town who have very little prospect of escaping the trap of poverty into which they find themselves. That reminds me I need to burn a few of his incense sticks!

Having double booked myself tomorrow afternoon I popped my head around Vincent's door and apologised.

Once again another day has passed and there are a huge list of tasks to be done – many of which will be left undone. It is usually at this time in my visit that something crops up to occupy the rest of my stay – or electricity vanishes for a couple of days!!

Bye for now


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