Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No es facil

This is the text message I sent to some of the other volunteers last week.

“A goat just pissed on my face. Africa: 1, Caitlin: 0”

True story. Myself and 3 other volunteers were heading to the regional house for our regional retreat for 4 days and to celebrate our first month at site. There were two goats strapped to the roof (as usual) and as we watched the men tie up their legs and load the two creatures into rice sacks, I joked to the other volunteers about what the poor goats are supposed to do when they have to pee? Stop at a McDonalds?

Well, I asked for it.

There I was, riding in the set-place (smaller car, not a bus) with the 3 other volunteers and a couple of old Senegalese men. The morning wind was blissfully cool because of the fantastic sand and rain storm we had had the night before. The windows were rolled down and we only had two more hours to go. Suddenly we noticed a few drops of water coming from outside and splattering on our arms. Weird we thought, seeing as we’re in the desert. But we quickly figured out that no, it was not a fluke rainstorm, it was goat #1 taking a pee. Gross right? Not yet. Realizing this, the man next to me rolled the window up a bit and thinking it was over we sat back and I plugged back into my I-pod. But oh no, the goat was not finished. As soon as I leaned back into my seat, I got a huge spray of goat urine ALL over my face. Disgusting. At least my mouth was closed. Yuck.

I didn’t get mad. I couldn’t. What would have been the point? It’s not the goat’s fault, or the driver’s, or the man by the window. It was just one of those things.
I wiped my face as best I could, turned back to the other volunteers for some sympathetic looks and some teasing comments about goat urine being good for the skin and just sighed to myself.

No es facil.

No es facil. This is a phrase that I learned from my brother as a Cuban saying when things go wrong. Literally translated it means “It’s not easy,” but it’s really just a wittier way of saying “Life is hard, and this sucks.” It’s an expression that for some reason I find great comfort in and have taken to mumbling it to myself and to other volunteers on a daily basis.

The other night after being sandblasted by a sandstorm and waiting it out under my sheet, I woke up around 2 am to use the ‘bathroom’ and some horrible mysterious creature stung the top of my foot 3x. It was the sharpest most painful thing I think I’ve ever experienced and it really scared me. I texted a couple of other volunteers which made me feel better and so I spent the night trying to sleep through the intense knifelike pain. The next day the pain came in waves, but it was mostly just itchy. Then the 2nd day my foot started to swell and I could clearly see the three bite marks. No worries though, I called the PC medical officer and took some benadryl, made a paste of baking soda and water to smother it in, and the swelling was gone the next day. But the bite marks are still there and still red and I still have NO idea what it was. I’m doubting a scorpion, and too painful for the fire ants…perhaps a spider?

Africa, no es facil.


Christopher said...

That brings a whole new meaning to the phrase wake up and smell the goat urine and to all the people who have never smelled goat urine it stinks.Well as always you took it like a champ.

Christopher said...

You sure like to keep your fans waiting