February 27, 2013
Greetings from Addis Ababa!
It is the little things that can make such a difference in life….
Bread and butter.
We don’t have bread or butter in Malakal. There is a flat bread similar to a pita in Malakal, and that is it. Even if there was butter I would have no way to store it as the frig only works when the power is on and that is only at night and that is only if I am lucky. It would not stay cold all of the time as is required for such dairy products. I eat an essentially vegan diet in Malakal except for powdered milk in my coffee. And the coffee is instant coffee. I think I have forgotten the taste of brewed coffee.
I had strawberry yogurt tonight. And I also had tomatoes and avocado with salt. Yum, yum. I had bread and butter for dessert. There are so many things that I used to take for granted because I didn’t know that they were not normal everywhere. Now I do know that and I have a heightened gratitude for them because the place where I live most of the time does not have so many of the things that I used to take for granted.
It is true that I do not necessarily miss traffic. There is not one traffic light in Malakal. On the other hand I do not spend much time in motor vehicles there. My walking is limited because of the heat. I realized today in Addis Ababa that my feet are much smoother here, this must mean that the heat dries things up terribly even in terms of the skin on the bottoms of feet. The heat rashes I had in several places are gone here in Addis Ababa as well. It is such irony to have cold water here where the weather is cooler, in scorching Malakal most of the time I drink warm water.
Pizza, Diet Coke, strawberry yogurt, leek quiches, vegetarian spring rolls, bread and butter, pasta dishes, so many things I can feast on when I am out of South Sudan. I am happy for losing weight and yet I know that this will not be a sustainable loss once I have constant access to favorite foods that I can’t find in Malakal. For instance, the only chocolate I can have there is Nutella because it is already melted. Otherwise any chocolate that is not kept refrigerated melts. When one lives in a place without 24/7 power there is no way to have refrigeration and therefore one’s diet is necessarily limited. Can you imagine life with no chocolate but Nutella?
No refrigeration also presents problems in terms of medication. It was actually in Khartoum, Sudan that I realized how hard it would be to be diabetic and have no way to keep insulin refrigerated. Rabies shots had to be paid in advance and folks would go to a clinic that had a generator that operated a refrigerator to get the shots on a schedule determined by the pharmacist. There were many satellite dishes dotting the rural areas, and I was told that when the generators were running television was available. I haven’t seen so many satellite dishes in Malakal.
When I was last there, in Malakal, I did hear the drone of generators with increasing regularity. I know because it reminded me of the sound of lawn mowers in the United States.