I had a pretty crappy day today. It started out great actually, but went downhill pretty fast. I was supposed to drive out to the goat site to deliver some extra funds to the workers and was also supposed to take their salaries when I went. Because of some miscommunication, the salaries weren’t ready today and I found out this morning that I would have to go again tomorrow to take the salaries. I dread the drive out to the site because of the bumpy road, so finding out I was going twice when I could have done it one trip was not thrilling. By the time I got out to the site everything in between my chin and my rear was aching – the road seemed especially bumpy this morning. I had no sooner greeted all of the workers than I was told by one of them that they needed to go to the market today and buy things and bring them back. Tomorrow is supposed to be the end of Ramadan, which means a big celebration, so they all needed to stock up. Unfortunately, they didn’t have transportation and were really counting on me taking them. Those really were not the first words I was hoping to hear upon arrival. What could I do though? A few minutes later, we piled in the truck I took them 35 minutes back down the bumpy road to the market, through the donkeys and people staring and yelling “firinge” and waited while they purchased their grain and then took them to the place where they grind their grain. It only took about an hour at the actual market and then we headed back. By this time it was well past lunch, but everyone in the town was fasting and considering how it is rude to eat in public in this culture, I wasn’t really sure what option I had other than to be hungry. I took them back to the goat site and immediately turned around and came down the road once again towards my home trying not to be annoyed, but thinking often of my hunger and my aching back and throwing myself a small pity party (by small I mean a royal one). I stopped halfway and ate lunch at 3:30 at a friend’s house that had invited me over. I was very grateful for the delicious eggs and bread and wonderful coffee, but a stop for lunch meant an hour and a half to two hours of a social visit with major communication barriers. It wasn’t exactly relaxing. I left their house around 4:30 with really absolutely nothing to show for my day and still a little miffed at riding along that road the whole day.
As I drove back to my house, all the people were leaving the market and carrying their loads home. It had just poured rain for the last hour and the roads were muddy and flooded and I’m sure everyone was soaked from having to stand in the rain in the outside market. I also took note that a good 75% of them had no shoes and the shoes that were being worn weren’t anything I would ever want to put on my feet. The dirt road I drove from the market back to the main highway was at minimum 6 kilometers or 3+ miles and these people had walked to the market that day and were now walking back barefoot with heavy, heavy loads on their backs. Oh, and since it was Ramadan, they had all been fasting from all food AND drink since 4:00 that morning. And, if they happened to be old, or crippled, or pregnant, well that made no difference – they were still walking several miles on an empty stomach, barefoot and with loads on their backs.
I wish I could tell you that this immediately put me in a better mood. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work that way. But, it did give me a little perspective on what my “problems” really were. My back and neck hurting from riding in a truck all day seems a small thing to complain about considering their day!