Monday, November 23, 2009

Did you miss me?

Ok, you don't have to answer that if you don't want to.....

As some of you know I was/am participating in a challenge called NoBloPoMo which basically meant that we needed to post a new blog entry every day in order to qualify to win the contest. I've been enjoying working on coming up with something every day and have found that my life is so crazy that it isn't really hard at all.

Thursday, after writing about my ideas for future posts, I wrote most of the first episode for Our Super Story. Friday I posted the photo early before hitting the road for our weekly shopping trip. All good! Sadly, I would be unable to post anything after Friday because of a few hiccups in our road. Read on:

On the way home from shopping we hit a teenage boy with our car. It was just our side mirror, he was only slightly injured, and he walked right into the road as we passed but it was traumatic for all of us. Of course, because we are white there was an instant mob on the road and people were shouting at us and hurling insults. The worst was this group of teenage school girls who were really up in my face. They hadn't even seen the accident but ran up afterward.

We helped the boy and one of his teachers into the car and drove straight to a clinic. Of course, as is typical here there was no one at the clinic so we decided to take him to a hospital near our house where we could get x-rays done if needed. I had examined the boy by this point and didn't believe he had a broken arm but we wanted to do it right.

As we drove to the hospital we had to pass a police checkpoint. Those snotty school girls had made it there ahead of us (because of our detour to the clinic) and had told the police that we had "bashed a child with our car". Lovely! This meant that the police didn't even want to listen to our side of the story. The boy, meanwhile, was holding to his story that we drove off the road which was patently untrue!

Anyway, we got closer to home and stopped off at our local police station to pick up a form that the hospital would have to fill out regarding the injury. Here the boy told his story again and then when Tom started drawing the scenario in the dirt the teacher came along and said that the road was curved at that place. What?? It was a straight road! He also had not seen the accident and when we pointed this out to the police they said we weren't allowed to say who qualified as a witness.

We drove to the hospital and started the process of getting the boy checked out. And believe me, it is a process. First you can't figure out where to go and there never seems to be anyone around but we were eventually directed to a window where we had to pay for the medical form to be looked at. Then we were asked for a referral letter from the clinic--when we mentioned that we had started at the clinic but no one was there. They wanted us to visit every single clinic along the road before coming to them. Crazy! I just asked what I could do to bypass this and was told to give them the equivalent of $2. Fine! Then we had to give them a small notebook for the doctor to write in which becomes the patient's official record. But....we first had to go buy the book from a shop across the way.

Then it was see this clinical officer (maybe like a physician's assistant or registered nurse), let him fill in the book and then be sent to the doctor. But....the doctor wasn't there so we waited around for awhile and finally sent someone to go get him from his house. And then we waited and waited and waited. Finally he arrived and after a cursory examination said there was nothing clinically wrong but that we should get x-rays in case. Not just of the arm but the chest as well! I asked what for and clarified that he had been hit on the side -- not in front. The doc said, oh, ok. But the damage had been done in that the teacher and boy now thought the injury was worse than it really was.

When we asked where we could get the x-rays done they said the hospital had no technician and so we'd have to go to another hospital an hour away but that since the day was late there probably wasn't a chance of getting that done either. So we all agreed that we would take the boy home but if there was any change he could call us and we would take him back to the clinic.

First we stopped back at the police station to deliver the report from the hospital. While there we noticed a big crazy mob and found out it had to do with a witchcraft case that is going on in the village--you have to come back tomorrow to read all about that. It's an adventure of the highest order!

Back on the road to deliver the boy home to his grandmother. His parents live in one of the larger cities and, as is common here, the teenager stays with his grandmother to help look after her while attending school.

It was nearly dark when we arrived. We found the grandmother in the outside kitchen which is a circular structure with a thatched cone-shaped roof called an insaka. The walls are only about 2 feet high and the roof comes down low leaving a gap between the walls and roof for air circulation. All around the yard of the house were children and a few adults. We were told that we had to wait for an uncle to arrive with some more relatives that he was rounding up and that we should only have to wait 40 minutes! Since they routinely underestimate the length of a wait we strongly stated that we could not wait around since it was getting dark and we needed to get back on the road. The teacher agreed to translate for us to the grandmother.

He started out by telling the story and thankfully he used hand gestures because then we were able to follow the story. He said that a bus was passing us on the road (true) and that we swerved off the road to avoid it (so not true). We immediately had him correct that part. The teacher did an ok job of telling the story and what steps we had taken to make things better. I had given the boy a bottle of painkillers from our clinic since the hospital pharmacy was closed, for instance. The grandmother had a few questions but seemed ok about it all.

As we sat there the people in the yard were creeping closer and closer. Entertainment in the village is hard to come by so this was very exciting for everyone. I began feeling a little claustrophobic because of the small building and people all around. Then it started raining so everyone in the yard decided to sit in the tiny outbuilding with us. My claustrophobia was going crazy by this time. Sadly, as a defense, I began to get uptight. This was only made worse by the arrival of the uncle who demanded to know what we were going to pay in compensation to the boy.

Now, I completely understand giving someone compensation for mistakes you have made but this boy walked into our vehicle. He was in the road and as we got closer to him we honked our horn, slowed down and he moved off the road but just as we passed him he stepped into the road and lifted his arm. Granted, in hindsight we figured that he was probably distracted by the bus on the other side of the road but, for crying out loud!, look both ways, people!

So, here we were, out over $100 in repairs to our vehicle, we'd spent an entire afternoon helping this young man and making sure he was ok, and NOW, we had to pay him money! I am a very logical person which does not go over well here where most things are completely illogical.

Can I just stop this narrative for a moment and say how thankful I am for marriage? This may seem like an illogical segue but stay with me a moment. When the accident first happened Tom was furious. We battle daily with goats, chickens, guinea fowls on the road not to mention bicyclists who have no idea of the rules of the road and then whole groups of pedestrians who seem to think the road was made for them. Tom's first reaction was pure fury that people have so little respect for vehicles.

Thankfully, my first reaction was compassion for the boy and I worked hard to calm down the situation and get the boy to the clinic. Later, when things were more under control I began to get angry at the whole event. By this time Tom had cooled off and was able to chat with different people around us to distract them from my sour mood. He said that he loved being in the insaka surrounded by people all working toward a solution. I was a basket case in the insaka. If either of us had been on our own it would have been much more difficult to work out.

We finally came to an agreement that we would pay for part of the boy's schooling next year. This solved the problem of giving cash (never a good idea) which would be fought over by family members and not really do any good. We will pay the money directly to the school. Because the boy's leg was bruised also we will pay for someone to give him a bicycle ride to and from school for a week. At least some good came out of the situation. We can try to feel better about it this way.

On one of our many stops through the day I came across these adorable kids. They came up to the car to greet me. They loved it when I pulled out my camera. I loved the fact that God sent these tykes along to help me smile in the midst of a trying day.

Saturday morning at around 4 AM we lost power and it was only restored at 5:30 PM on Sunday and then at 5:45 it was turned off again for regular 'load-shedding'. We got full power back at around 9 PM Sunday night. I say around 9 PM because I was out in a blessed drug-induced sleep. All the stress on Friday caused me to come down with allergies/a cold/asthma--take your pick.

So, my dream of winning NaBloPoMo is finished. No prize for me. Thanks, Zesco. I already checked and they won't take any excuses. Oh well. Have no fear. I will continue to write as often as I can. I didn't start out writing to win any prizes but because I have so much to say and that is not likely to end any time soon.


  1. Oh Amy, I don't know how you do it. This whole scenerio is like a bad movie scene. Good Luck with all of it.

  2. Oh dear! So sorry to hear of this ordeal, and so glad that it seems to be resolved. It's very hard when our actions and motives are misrepresented. God bless and protect you all!

  3. wow, what a day! I lived on the Cape Verde Islands for 6 months, and your photos and stories remind me so much of my time there-the beautiful children, the non-working systems, frustrations, etc, etc, etc. I am in awe of you and the work you are doing! Thanks for the blog!

  4. unbelievable!

    I lost NaBloPoMo as well, its ok... we will be fine! without the prizes!


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