Repost from May 19, 2016
I was having an Africa day. The sights, smells and experience of the place that I love so dearly were about to tip the scale towards driving me crazy instead of reminding me why I love it here.
First of all, you need to know that I am a chicken. I'm afraid of rodents, things that sting, snakes, COCKROACHES, doctors, dentists and pain, just to name a few! You also need to know that I LOVE where I live, but have a tendency to run into these terror producing things at alarming rate around here and they are usually in a much bigger or much scarier package than in the US. Since we don't have central heat and air, living with bugs and critters is much more often the rule than the exception. The other day I was sorting boxes of medicines to get ready for our medical clinic with my journeygirls and I had picked up a big box to move it out of the way. Since it was super heavy I had leaned it against my body to help me lift it over a standing fan as we worked in the 95 degree heat. Just as I got the box directly over the fan to move across to where I could set it down one of our two inch roaches run up the side of the package and headed towards my body at lightening speed. All reason fled at this point and I screeched and dropped the box just before my arch enemy could run right up onto my neck and across my face. What I realized as the box began to plummet toward the earth (thanks gravity, you have the amazing ability to ruin my day!) was that the box was filled with important medicine that could be in breakable packaging AND the fan was about to get creamed. In this culture where these kiddos spend close personal time with bugs of all varieties, the idea of someone being afraid of a roach is ridiculous. So when all of the kids from the neighborhood to see why Mama McAfee screamed, I looked up from trying to piece the fan back together and sheepishly said, "Oh it was nothing!"
Now this particular day was filled with a trip to public hospital and a back alley clinic as we tried to seek medical attention for a sweet lady who had gone way too long without an operation that she needs. Some of our hospitals are pretty great here, but some are harder to get used to. In the low cost clinic where we helped the lady get her needed blood draw, I was on a constant look out to make sure everything was on the up and up and all supplies were clean and new, while battling a couple of my big fears doctors (that don't speak my mother tongue) and pain even if it was someone else's. Upon finishing this task we went off to the African market to try to get some of the needed items for another project we are doing, the project for those whose houses were destroyed by fire. The African market brings a whole new set of sights and SMELLS that I can't even describe. The added problem of Abidjan as that the sanitary challenges and dense population in the city make everything extra difficult. The waste run off in the street makes for breeding grounds for rodents of unusual size and smells that will turn your stomach. We were heading into one of the booths (booth being a tiny enclosed space with a walkway leading in wide enough for only one person making heading back out difficult) when halfway in, we were met by the booth owner making a hasty exit. What might be the problem? A HUGE RAT! It's body alone was over a foot long. No need to worry for long though, her manly neighbor came directly over and whacked it with a stick he was holding and then used said stick to catapult the thing within inches of us standing just outside the booth into the street. I personally had no more need for ANYTHING this woman was selling and thankfully, my sweet African sister agreed with me. Over the next few shopping hours, I had more and more trouble with the nauseating fumes coming up from whatever was all over the ground. Later as we ate a sickeningly late lunch, my fish with a face kept watching me. Usually I'm OK with that, just not on long days, I guess.
To wrap up the long day I swung by to pick up a few things at the church we do a lot of church planting with. We had left a few things there on Sunday including a portable baptistry. The sweet church people were kind enough to empty the water for me and pile up the tarp in a way that it would be dry for me to take home. It was the end of a long hard day. The baptistry was heavy and everyone was tied up in a meeting. By the time I'd worked with one other lady to load the whole thing in the back of the truck, I grabbed the tarp and threw it in the passenger seat of the cap right beside me. I love to work in this area of the city, but it is at least a 45 minute ride home from there. About 25 minutes into this ride, I caught movement right beside my elbow on the tarp. My heart rate took off as I looked around and see this small rodent looking at me. Yes, I screeched, but my car was also hurdling down the road at 50 kilometers per hour along with about 500 of my close personal rush hour friends! What to do, what to do? I couldn't keep looking at the thing, apparently he couldn't keep looking at me either and he turned tail and scampered back into the tarp. I wavered between driving really fast to get home as quickly as possible and driving really slow so that I could keep my eyes as much as possible on the horrible seat mate that God gave me! I've never been introduced to a shrew, but I think that is what this was as it had a horrid little squeaking noise that it made ALL of the way home. Heaven forbid that I forget that the little varmint is right beside me for a few seconds!!! I watched it as it moved through the tarp and got panicky each time I couldn't place its little moving bulge or discern the direction of its tiny shrieking noise. I careened into our driveway and in lieu of the cute little toots from the horn to signal I needed someone to come open the gate for me, I laid out a 911, SOS version of SOMEBODY GET OUT HERE NOW, while hopping as quickly as possible out of the cab! Fortunately I had the good sense to take the truck out of gear and throw the parking brake, although I can't remember doing so. The terror of living the little thing in the truck to take up residence at will under my seat so that he could torment me by running out between my feet and biting my ankles each time I drove somewhere propelled me to try to drag the tarp out of the truck while I waited for help. I grabbed the thing with as much courage as I could muster and yanked it out to chunk down on the ground at my feet.
Mike eventually moseys out of the gate, apparently my 911 honk needs some work, and asks what in the world I am doing as I stand terrified not able to look away from the tarp I have thrown on the ground. "THERE IS A CREATURE IN THERE!" He gave me his very best, why did I have to marry a lunatic look and came my way while asking incredulously, "WHAT are you talking about?" I go on to babble words like rodent, in tarp, in truck, help incoherently while he heads my way. Amusement begins to take over as he gets to the tarp and ratchets my heart rate back into the dangerous level by trying to shake the contents loose at my feet. I don't know if I was more happy or horrified to see the terrible thing run out. I wanted to know it wasn't in the truck anymore, but I didn't want to see it or see it run in my gate, which it eventually did. Mike pulled the tarp past the thing and it climbed back in, guess it had staked out its new home and wasn't ready to give it up. Our two faithful and true four legged friends came to my rescue and worked together to put an end to my nightmare. I am pretty sure the horrid little creature bit Ceilidh on the nose when she grabbed it (I told you it was dangerous!), which prompted her to quickly throw and let it go! Daisy was not so quickly thwarted and she grabbed the thing and put an end to it! Just another day in Africa.
Don't you want to come visit? It really is a great place to be!