Friday, March 16, 2012

It's hot in Kenema, Sierra Leone

Wednesday, Thursday March 14-15, 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

The air conditioning in our rental truck kept freezing up, so we debated whether to exchange it for another, knowing how desperately we’d want to be cool this time of year.  Sahr Doe offered to give us another car but the truck we have is still running, which is always a plus.  Besides, Sahr has his own problems.  His orange ‘toaster’ car hit a deer.  The driver was bringing back the lady we met from Ghana that was here to do some training in Bo.  Luckily the passengers were not hurt but the car had to be towed.

On our way to Kenema we saw that this red rig was still stuck there.  The backhoe in front was to dig out the hill so that traffic could pass, since it is on the steepest section on the Grafton Road.  The very large red rig is the one that is stuck, and had been for at least three days.  Someone tried to tow it out but failed.

We arrived in Kenema in the early afternoon and the manager said he would ‘give us a good deal’ on a bigger, nicer room.  After we got unpacked we discovered that the fridge didn’t work and hours later they found us another one that did.  There was another room attached, which we didn’t need, and that was not air conditioned.  There was a TV, and after much instruction I figured out how to use it—only three English speaking channels.  The air conditioner by the bed was as weak as in any other room.  There was no hot water, but then, it is so hot outside that it doesn’t matter—I shower after I swim and therefore there is no cringing.  Much later Jim finally inquired about the cost.  It wasn’t such a good deal, and the only advantage was the TV, so we switched back to our regular standard room. The only bother was the unpacking, packing, unpacking. He told us he’d give us a deal after Jim’s gas was siphoned in his parking lot during the last trip.  Some deal!

Jonathan and his family spent the afternoons with us as they usually do, starting with swimming, ending with dinner at the hotel.  We discuss business and problems.  I could write a book about all the problems.

Thursday: this time of year is living up to its name.   The heat feels oppressive and left me without energy the entire day.  Our room barely gets cooled enough for us to sleep at night.  Jim felt even worse than he did when he first got sick so we were only able to see eight wells.  The great news was that the concrete all looked good—that is a first…a happy first! 

Jim & Jonathan inspecting the cement work on the wells.
We were pretty happy with them for once.  The communities also provided homemade bricks for walls around their wells. One community was complaining that they had to donate some things when another NGO came in and just gave a neighboring community their well.  The hygiene facilitator told them that the other well would break too, except no one would fix it, and that they’d have water long after the other because they were organized to repair it.  Most people here think they should get everything for nothing.                                                                   
In the dry season Kenema is without electricity for two or more months.  Their electricity is generated by water, which they run out of.  At our hotel we run out of water too, and they don’t leave on the power throughout the day like they used to.  Fuel costs have risen here also.             

Love, mom & dad

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