Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.
emo_snal

Duldrums

[Entry written Saturday morning in Lafia, Nasarawa State. Posted Sunday evening evening in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory]

Blessing: "We need to leave a little early so I can get foil"
Me: "Foil?"
Blessing: "Foil for the car"
Me: "Foil... for the car??"
Blessing: "Yes after driving to Farin Ruwa yesterday the car is almost out of foil"
   Yes, Nigerians (who, for those of you just joining us, speak English as an official language, along with over 200 local languages) pronounce fuel as "foil," as in "aluminum foil." I found this to be one of the more baffling differences in pronunciation I've encountered in my life but I suppose if you looked at the word "fuel" spelled out and hadn't the slightest idea how to pronounce if "fuy-el" might result. I even saw a fuel truck with the word fuel spelled "foiul" on it.




Blessing: "The hotel didn't have any tea (making hotels with tea 0 for 2, but they always have nescafe), so I went out to the street and got you some tea bags, sugar and pigs milk" (And while the hotel couldn't rustle any up I'm sure it took him 30 seconds to find those materials from street venders out front)
Me: "Pigs milk?? I don't think I've ever had pigs milk before!"
Blessing: "You haven't had pig milk? You haven't been putting the milk in your tea back at the hotel?" (back at the hotel we're staying at (this was at a hotel in a different town (Garaku) where we were to have a training sessions) they bring us an omelette, nescafe, powdered milk, and hot water, every morning, complimentary since we're staying for two weeks. We had to buy our own tea though.)
Me: "I don't usually put milk in my tea, but if I knew it was pig milk I might have tried it!"
Blessing: "In the United States they don't put pig milk in tea???"
Me: "No they put cow's milk in tea, I didn't even know you could milk a pig!"
Blessing: "Oh. Not PIG, PIG. PIG." He points to the satchet of powdered milk, which I hadn't examined closely, and I realize it says PEAK on it.

"Peak milk" I guess is like half and half or whole milk? You never realize how similar a G and K sound are until you meet someone who pronounces them as halfway between eachother.



   And so when we went into a cybercafe to use the printer I was not terribly baffled when the attendant told us "okay, just a minute let me get some foil." Not surprised they needed foil to run their own generator to run the printer, though perhaps a bit surprised that we're already two hours into the business day and they haven't made sure they had foil on hand for the possibility a customer would want to use the printer.



   And on the subject of energy shortages when you want to run electronic devices I think I figured out why on two occasions I had my camera battery charging all night only to find it deader when I put it in my camera than it had been when I took it out.
   When we ran out of foil during our training session at Garaku, one of the beekeepers plugged his phone and charger into the powerstrip. I thought it was an odd time to decide to charge his phone, but then the projector came back on and lasted another minute and a half. I don't know, I'd always assumed electronic devices had safeguards so the power would not flow backwards, but apparently not, at least here. He was able to run down his cell phone to power the laptop, and I'm sure while my battery charger was plugged in, when the power went out, as it inevitably does (right on cue it just went out), my camera battery proceeded to power everyone's AC (and the heinously loud music outside) for another .5 seconds.
   Thank goodness I think my laptop battery at least doesn't flow backwards. I think that big boxy thing on the middle of the cord may have some magical properties that prevent this (I assume it is filled with voodoo charms).



   The internet's been out here for at least three days now. When I start to feel bitter about that I tell myself "first world problems, firt world problems." And that it'll probably be good for me to be unconnected for a bit. But then another voice in my head says "but I have things I want to DO with the internet dammit!!" Such as, for example, in two days I go to Ethiopia. They're at a more advanced stage of beekeeping, with a central processing facility exporting 3000 TONS of honey every year, and they want me to, among other things, help the individual beekeeping operations with a "template business plan" and "out-grower schemes." There's two other volunteers in Lafia here, one of whom is from Sri Lanka and working on business development. I asked him what "outgrower schemes" are and he had no idea. I NEED THE INTERNET! I'm sure if I had two days of internet access I'd be a god damn expert in outgrower schemes by the time I get there. And I wouldn't mind boning up on the ins and outs of business plan writing either.
   If you're reading this, it means I finally got some intertrons. Presently I'm writing it offline.



   I'm not sure why, but training ended Thursday, giving me two days of "rest," "and to write the reports" (which took me about half an hour). I was skeptical about the utility of scheduling two days of nothing but Blessing has his ideas about what should be done and there's no budging him. It's presently Saturday, Sunday we drive up to Abuja and Monday I fly to Ethiopia.
   I could have used maybe one full day to prepare for Ethiopia... but I can't do that without the internet.
   Yesterday the other two volunteers (Ali, the SrI Lankan, and Yuan, a chinese Canadian with a Nigerian fiance (not present) whom she met in Malaysia) were going to Obe, a quaint village of thatched huts where there's always a pleasant breeze, and they were going to spend the night out there (The YMCA Training Center is there and has guest rooms). Being as we had nothing planned for today and yesterday I asked Blessing if we could go do that as well but he started talking about foil costs and how it's not in the scope. I said they were going anyway but he said they were taking public transit, and anyway he seemed so prepared to barrage me with excuses I decided not to push the issue (I could have offered to give him money for the foil costs myself, but I got the distinct impression he did NOT want to go). So instead of enjoying a pleasant breeze surrounded by thatched huts, I'm cooped up in my hotel room learning why they sometimes blast music to psychologically torture people.

   You see, every day from sometime early in the evening until at least midnight they blast music at high volume here. Usually it's out by the pool and even with my windows closed it's so loud that for example when I tried to talk to Kori on skype I couldn't hear her even with computer volume up to full. Sometimes they do it in the bar downstairs,
which is almost worse because then the floors and walls reverberate. At least it's not N Sync or Shania Twain, I'd probably have offed myself by now if it was.
   Back when I had internet access I posted a facebook status complaining about this, and a "friend" commented on it "white boy problems." Incidentally the girl who posted this is a white girl with dreadlocks. I'm baffled how the neighbors and other hotel guests can stand this music, but I don't really see how objections to not being able to hear myself think before midnight has anythign to do with the gender/race/entitlement issues the comment seems to imply. Another of my friends "liked" the comment so I messeged her for explanation. She was surprised I was offended and said she just thought it was a "cheeky" way of poking fun at me. I perfectly understand the phrase "first world problems," since it implies I'm bothered about something that only someone from the first world would feel entitled to (wifi for example), but her phrase implies only a white boy would feel entitled to a non-audial-barrage environment? Am I missing something here? In conclusion I think the comment was deeply insulting and I'm going to de-friend the original commenter as soon as I get online again (didn't do it immediately due to a standing policy to never do anything "in the heat of the moment").

   So all day Friday and today I have nothing to do all day. Yesterday morning we ventured out to the aforementioned cybercafe and visited the local YMCA HQ (YMCA is the local host organization) to say goodbye. Then I wrote my reports, which took about half an hour, swam some laps aaand... spent a lot of time in my hotel room. I can't leave my hotel by myself and even if I could it's not exactly pleasant to walk around out there, because everyone just tosses their trash out the window there's trash on every surface and the air is diffused with car exhaust. At least while the music isn't playing outside I can read a book. Last night, unable to sleep or read or do anything else I had to resort to something I don't think I've done in over twelve years -- I turned on the TV and flipped through channels until I found something watchable. In this case the music wasn't so loud I couldn't turn up the TV enough to hear it. (And it turns out the movie Lost Boys isn't completely awful, "Death Sentence" is surprisingly deep, and "Shooter" is a delightful example of the "shooting and explosions" genre)
   In conclusion I'm going freaking stir crazy here with nothing to do. I wish we could go back to Abuja, but Abuja is on lockdown due to Boko Haram (the local terrorist group) threats to bomb hotels Westerners stay at (great) and/or the US Embassy (what did WE do? No seriously this time I think we're relatively innocent -- it's local politicians who are exploiting the oil [and say routing it to a refinery they own in Sao Tome & Principe rather than local refineries] and Boko Haram's complaints are only about "Western Education" [which I think means me ;) ]). It's a terribly shame because in Abuja I CAN walk around by
myself and the internet usually works. Damn terrorists are having a negative impact on my life! ):

Tags: africa, agdev, nigeria, travel, travelogues
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