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soggy nights

March 17, 2011

Blogo-Soundtrack: as always, I am still so much in love with Iron & Wine (will Sam Beam just come and steal me away already??)

“My land, it was a hot day today. Earth soaks up all the heat and lets it out at night. It’ll be soggy sleeping.” So writes Ray Bradbury in Dandelion Wine, the book I’m reading at the moment.

Sometimes you read things and it feels like a forecast, like the book or the passage or whatever it may be is speaking directly to you, for you. That’s how I felt last night as I read that: the beginning of the heat is now upon Burkina, and you can feel it. It seeps into your pores, into your bones, and there are moments when all of a sudden you become fully aware of your body simply because of the fact that you are sweating so profusely, though not moving an inch.

Unsurprisingly, my hut with the corrugated tin roof holds heat like a sauna, and without so much as a breeze or a draft to relish in sleep is impossible. Everything is sticky, the foam mattress I bought radiates heat so I feel like a cookie in the oven, and the mosquito net only traps the already sticky air so that it clings ever closer to my body.

Village life consists of a life lived out of doors. A hut is simply a place to sleep; living and cooking and eating and gossiping – all of that takes place outside. So far, I still live in a way that’s familiar to me: inside. I cook inside, I store everything inside, I listen to music inside, I wash my dishes inside and, up until recently, I ate and slept inside.

Two nights ago, I started sleeping outside. I broke out my Bug Hut – perhaps the single best investment I reluctantly made while spending exorbitant amounts of money shopping to join the Peace Corps – and set up camp under my shoddily constructed straw awning. I slept better than I had in weeks. It’s still hot but for a few hours in the dead middle of the night, the temperature seems to drop to a reasonable level, reasonable enough to where sleep becomes a reality.

I arrived home yesterday afternoon and started off with my usual evening routine: sweep my outdoor shower clean of all of the leaves, dirt, and chicken feathers that have floated into it throughout the day; get water ready for my bucket bath (no more heating the water – it’s “cold” bucket baths from now ‘til the next cold season); munch on raisins or whatever other “treat” I scrounge up from my food bin; read or write while it’s still daylight; sweep my hut. Then I boldly (ha) decided that I was living my life too much indoors. I thought to myself, It’s way to hot to be functioning inside this hotbox, I am going to move some activities outside! This really only amounted to me moving my dishwashing station and my sleeping arrangements outside, but the point I am trying to highlight here is that I consciously made the decision to relocate out of doors. After all, the “earth soaks up all the heat and lets it out at night. It’ll be soggy sleeping.” Very soggy, as it turns out.

One of the things I find interesting about climates like the one I will be sharing an existence with for the next two years is the predictability of the seasons. There is the cold season, the dry season, the hot season and the rainy season. Of course, the reality of this predictability is that it exists only in my mind. I should know better than to believe in it: doesn’t the law of the universe dictate that when we go to great lengths to make what we believe to be a well educated and logical decision, we usually end up relocating out of doors and sleeping outside, essentially under a sieve, on the night that a HUGE thunderstorm hits?

I should have guessed. About two hours after I went to sleep, I woke up to the sound of what I thought could only be children (or the sky?) throwing dirt and small pebbles at me and my Bug Hut. Of course, once I started getting sopping wet I realized it was just the beginning of a storm that I thought would surely rip the tin roof that is the bane of my existence right off.

Awesome. I spent the next 45 minutes in a discombobulated state, pacing my hut because of the noise (like someone dropping a trillion pins onto a sheet of tin) and the thunder and lightning. I thought to myself, What if my roof rips right off? Then what? And what if my Bug Hut (which I didn’t have the time to pack up) gets so ruined that I am doomed to sleep inside until I somehow get another one shipped to me?

Perhaps the best part was when I shone my flashlight to the corner of my hut that I’ve had my eye on for a few days now. There are two little holes and unusually large piles of dirt keep magically appearing like a halo on my cement floor. Well, the giant ants that have been building their farm must have gotten a scare with the rain coming through their recently constructed tunnels, because the ENORMOUS suckers all evacuated (see pictures below). They dispersed into the room with my mattress in it. Thus I found myself sleeping in the middle of my kitchen, listening to the rain and the wind hit the roof, watching as the lightning illuminated the hut and waiting to hear the delayed thunderous roar that is her partner in crime, wondering what possessed me to neglect my Bug Hut outside to drown or fly away, and trying to shake that imaginary feeling of bugs (giant ants, to be precise) crawling all over me, starting at my fingers and toes and working their way up my limbs to the center of my body, to end at my nostrils or my mouth or the holes in my ears!

I woke up feeling far from rested, and yet ready to take on the day. It’s national women’s day today, which means only no work, lots of dolo, and the pagnes of the moment, if you are lucky enough to have stumbled upon a tailor that completes things on time (which I was not).

Much love

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2011 12:30 pm

    wait, so is your bug hut gone?

    absolutely no comparison, but reminds me of washington dc in the summer where we would all just lay there, watching the clock due to the humidity and heat. I would put wet washclothes on my tummy.. maybe that could help (for 5 seconds?)

    what do your neighbors think that your house is turned inside out? is there any scandal? or do people just not care about those things?

    sounds like good body awareness nonetheless, staying out of the mind! or that´s what eckhart tolle would say (not that i read any of his stuff).

    miss you mucho, and i love you mucho

  2. Rick Meier permalink
    March 17, 2011 6:56 pm

    Hey Kailey-
    I finally got to read some of your blogs.
    To summarize things in four words, I’d have to say “Never A Dull Moment”.
    I’m currently not working and I too have “no ties”, just a bit older than you. 🙂
    So I’m sending resumes on line of course to places like Honduras, Brazil, Dubai, Peru, and many others, just trying to get out of here.
    From what I’m reading, maybe you need a solar water heater for having hot showers again.
    Take care of yourself.

  3. dad permalink
    March 17, 2011 8:40 pm

    Lucky you. Free ants. You can supplement your diet with them for added protein. Glad to here you are holding up. Love dad.

  4. Mel permalink
    March 18, 2011 5:30 pm

    You’re so strong and awesome and poetic. Giant ants! OMG.

  5. Abbo permalink
    March 23, 2011 7:57 am

    Miss you! I watched a movie today and the main character had a pet chicken that was his best friend when he lived in Africa and it made me think of you and your chicken!
    Love you lots!

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