Up til now you probably think I have been having a pretty cool vacation. Well I admit it has been more fun than recent trips, but I thought I would fill you in on some of the frustrations of trying to get anything done here. We now have five pr0perties to maintain: The medical clinic, the new Tamesna education center, the house in Agadez which serves as my residence and a guesthouse for all our volunteers, the downtown office and the demonstration garden. This is the first visit since 2007 that I have actually had time to get things in order. Things have been needed every visit–I have just been so preoccupied with getting authorizations and military security in the past three visits that I had little time to prepare for the project work before it started. This time I have had almost two weeks and boy have I gotten a lot done. Now we are down to the wire as Dr. Komp and Sol arrive tomorrow. Sidi has been occupied all week in government meetings and preparing the necessary reports to be accepted officially to use the United Nations humanitarian service to get our volunteers to Agadez ON A PLANE! (no more 16 hour drives I hope) We are stilling waiting for word. Of course they need to get here on Wednesday. It is now Tuesday so we will have to address a whole new can of worms getting them north if we do not get the go ahead. Aboli and Alhassane have been running around getting supplies and trying to get the new onion planting in the garden finished. I have enlisted my old blind and deaf guardian Mamane to dig up the entire courtyard of the house and office to make it flat get the drainage right so we don’t flood in the next rains. This is a lumpy mess and yes in Calif. it would be done with a tractor. It is the only work he can now do and although it is slow, he is very happy to have it and I and happy to give him some work in his retirement.
When we left last time, the office was still under repair and construction. While I was gone the wall between us and our neighbors fell down so we had to rebuild that and put in a bathroom for the office. The desk I ordered came in almost twice the dimension I ordered–they could not get it in the door so assembled it inside. This left little room in the office for anything else–so for our meeting we had to sit on the desk! It is now being cut down.
None of the lights that we installed worked. Electricity is a challenge here- hope to have solar everywhere one day! But even buying a light bulb is a challenge. When I built the house I put in regular incandescent bulbs because you can test them before you buy them–you can’t test florescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs, however use much more power and the heat up the house. So this time I changed out to florescent. Of the ten lights we changed, three have worked from the outset and the other seven–either the bulbs or the transformers have needed changing several times each. We are down to only two that don’t work now, not counting the two that flicker ALL THE TIME (one is in my bedroom–fortunately I sleep outside). The bulbs are cheap, but you usually have to buy at least three for everyone that works. The labor is cheap and worth its price! The Education center will be installed with solar. Some of that is being shipped, the inverter came in my suitcase and the 12v lights are coming in Bob’s. I HOPE it works better than the grid system–we’ll soon see. Thank goodness the garden doesn’t have electricity.
Plumbing–all the faucets and toilets leak and the sink and shower are stopped up. UGH. Replace the faucet? you will do it again in a week.
The medical staff is ready–I have been training a new secretary to do all the medical reporting and be a liaison between the office and the clinic to make sure meds are purchased and needs filled. We just sent out replacement doorknobs for everydoor–nomads are hard on doorknobs. Dr. Bob’s lovely wheely office chair is broken beyond repair–hope I can find a new one here in Agadez.
Furniture–this is the fun part–I have had beds and couches built in with adobe at the center and am ordering beautiful wax cloth covers for the cushions and mattresses. I ordered tables, chairs, mosquito nets, rugs (the beautiful plastic mats that serve as carpets here). The center is going to be gorgeous–and all for under $1000 in furnishing costs. Here the volunteers will stay and we will hold the training sessions.
I am sitting on the roof terrace in the early morning–the sun is now just coming up. The most energetic time of the day.
All the little frustrations are actually a pleasant distraction from the real one. I rarely leave the house. Never without a man in the car with me. I keep a low profile–don’t go to shopping in the grand marche where there are too many unknown people. The last thing this country needs is another incident of hostage taking. There are a couple of other Europeans in town, but not very visible. The government is fully aware of my presence and wants to do everything to avoid an incident–it is good news they are taking security seriously, but pretty frustrating for me not to be able to jump in the car and run a errand–cruise around shopping etc. The up side of this is that everything comes to me: the artisans, the furniture maker, the tailor etc. So I stay safe and sound in my little house and when we head to the bush we’ll take the big guns.