As I sit here writing this story, there are two pots of water on the gas stove heating up so that I can wash myself and my hair with warm water. Outside our apartment on the deck sit four large old oil containers of water, brought up by the workers in the building we live in, as our water tank was low. We knew the tank was low and so only flushed the toilet when really necessary, did not wash the dishes or the clothes and have left having a shower for three days! How low? I did not find out until I went to have a shower this morning and a trickle of cold water ran out of the tap into the bucket I save the water in, then stopped altogether. Although we have had electricity almost every day, it is just heating the element and whatever air is in the hot water system.
It is coming in to the winter season (by my calculations and hemispherically) or extended dry season (10 months), which the locals refer to as summer. However it is colder now than when it rains. On our sixth and top floor apartment we see the dust whirled in by the constant prevailing winds. Everything, including us, is constantly covered in a layer of grey dust. A tell tale sign that soil here is not going to support much growth, except on our skin! With the dust and lack of rain comes the itchy dry skin, leaving the inside of your clothes white. On the up side, my hair dries in a third of the time and an hour after putting even jeans on the line they are dry. Also, for those who get frizzy hair after a shower (yes, I am one), no frizzy days here!
Walking here also provides general amusement for the locals. I decided that I had had enough idleness and chose to walk towards the airport along one of the few sealed roads in Mekele. I thought this would work nicely as I could leave early and meet Chris and our driver, Mike, on the road as Chris came from the airport. I even thought that I could run a bit after climbing up and out of Mekele. Upon leaving the apartment I was able to provide quite a lot of amusement for the locals as I strode along the road, the sole white person out and about. Amid many honks, waves, stares, cries of ‘hello’, ‘where are you going?’, an offer to be wheeled in a wheelbarrow to my destination, a walking companion asking how they could get to Australia because that is where I was from, flashing lights, rubbish, thorn bushes and much dust I walked about 12km to meet Chris’ late plane. Needless to say, although I enjoyed the exercise and waving to many amused locals, I won’t be making a habit of walking to the airport (just a bit too far)!
My water is boiled and ready for bathing so I will go now. I just have to work out how to wash my hair from a saucepan without scorching myself in the process! I am learning many new skills and how to adapt!
PS. Just in case anyone was going to send me dark mint chocolate in time for Christmas, please wait until we have an actual address to post anything to! I have just found out today after anxiously awaiting mail that the postbox was not paid for and now it is someone else’s!! Who knows where it ends up now?