Day 6: ‘Pills, People and Problems’

Today is our last day in Peki. This village has welcomed us with such open arms we are sad to leave here. We pack up all of our belongings, 12 large suitcases, 12 other assorted smaller suitcases and duffles, backpacks, a few pillows and ten huge boxes of supplies.

Remarkably these items are all crammed intotwo tro tros which will take us back to Peki Adzokoe which is the village that our hypertension clinic is planned. We have to wait until noon to travel there as it is Sunday and this is a big church day for most of the people.

When we arrive shortly before1 p.m. we are met with a large group of people all dressed in their best church dayclothes awaiting a visit with the nurses. For some people this is a great event because they may not have health insurance and most people do not believe in purchasing the health insurance unless they have known medical issues or for a child This is like getting something free.

Preventative care is not a well known concept. We are again amazed at the readings we are obtaining. For those reading this blog who are not nurses, normal blood pressure is usually 120/70 or lower.Most people in the US will start medication if their blood pressure is higher than 140/90. We have had readings has high as 270/140. At home if we got readings like that we would likely be calling an ambulance because a stroke or heart attack could be imminent.

I have established a protocol for giving out some of the medicine I have brought with me. I will give out meds if BP higher than 160/100. I have brought about 2,000 pills that if I allocate a small amount (about 10 pills), then I can treat more people. Each patient is given a written page to go the clinic to get more medicine within the week.

Many people tell me that they have meds at home but ‘are done’ with them. They do not understand that this is a lifetime problembut treat it like an episodic illness. When the pills run out they stop taking them. Hypertension is a silent killer.

Their diet is not high in fat and there is not much obesity (maybe five percentor less). There is some smoking but not very visible like it is in Europe. I am not sure why we are getting such high readings but we experienced the same phenomenon on the lasttwo visits. I need to find out why hypertension is such a problem in Ghana.

It is great to see the students do the teaching, with the help of interpreters. I know that many of the nursing students felt tentative with their blood pressure skills but after doing 50 people in a row they have developed confidence and proficiency and also are interested to see the other advanced assessment skills that I am able to demonstrate to them. Whenever I get an opportunity I am quizzing them about drug classes and what they know about certain drugs. I think this trip is stressful for them in terms of clinical challenges but also allows them to experience a vastly different type of patient and most importantly it teaches them about community health.

We also have some vitamins and Tylenol. I have a few antibiotics but have not seen much infection which I find surprising. I save the vitamins for the older patients and the pregnant women. Tylenol (known here as paracetamol) is given to most of the older people because you can tell by their gait that they have a fair amount of osteoarthritis. I suspect one man was infected with guinea worm and I direct him to the local drug store also known as the ‘chemical store’ to get OTC meds for treatment and prevention of the worms. This is a disgusting disease that is quite prevalent due to the infected persons bathing and defecating in or near water sources and some people do not boil water before usage. Thus begins a vicious cycle of transmission.

After our clinic we take some supplies to the local orphanage. There is actually no physical building (yet) but AFRICED helps to provide care and resources for about 38 children. As I had mentioned earlier these are children who might be rescued from child slavery or orphaned by death of the parents. Sometimes the parents feel that their children might be better off in the care of an orphanage and will try to relinquish their custody over to AFRICED.

We are told that due to today’s donation the coordinators might see a surge in interest from these parents looking to get some advantage for their children and request that they be taken care of by AFRICED. As a parent I cannot imagine giving up my child but I believe that there can be such desperation for survival here that people do all kinds of things.

We have received a donation of about 200 Beanie Babies from Kelly’s grandmother and we have divided them into thefour orphanage boxes. There is a mad rush for the beanie babies and we see more than 50 children in line for a toy. I cannot distinguish between orphan and a child with a home but it is not up to me to decide who gets a toy. We also have some toothbrushes donated by Dr. Fadjo from Chelmsford and we can give those to the older children along with some books and videos donated by our friends and family back home. Our box seems so small compared to the need. The UMass Lowell students recognize that but also realize that we were hindered by high luggage charges. We will try to ship more items from home when we can find a vendor to ship barrels.

At the completion of our work day we are treated to a drink of palm wine which I did not like last year but this year it is nice and cold and does not taste as sour and fermented. Each person takes a sip (or more if desired) and then spills some on the ground and then one more sip. The UML students are hesitant but they do this. The pouring of the wine onto the ground symbolizes a recognition of the ancestors and reminds us that they are still present in our lives.

We have one last meet and greet with the Chief. He hugs all the students which is unusual because most people do not get to touch the chief. He is royalty to the people of Peki and certain protocols must be followed. He is kind and gentle man who wants the best for his people. He wants to maintain the beauty of his region but also is forward thinking and realizes that his community needs to advance and that can be done with collaboration with others.

We leave Peki and the students are a bit sad. They have grown to love this community but look forward to some new experiences. Kpando is about an hour away. It is a much busier town with more commerce, traffic and people. It has been home to Maura and I for the lastthree years in Ghana but the students are taken aback by the differences between the rolling country landscape of Peki and the noisy confusion of Kpando. We check into the hotel and we have been very spoiled by ourtwo previous hotels.

Cedes guest house is a somewhat dirty and poorly maintained hotel. I have not seen bugs but the mattresses and general cleanliness leave a lot to be desired. I am thankful that my silk dream-sack protects me slightly from whatever might have occupied my bed before me. It is unknown if the sheets have been washed. I find a pile of rags (or old clothes) in the closet and I immediately throw them in the hall. We are lucky to have a small refrigerator but it smells like something has died in there. We go to the front desk clerk and demand that the refrigerator be cleaned. Customer service here is not one of Ghana’s strong suits. Food service is very, very slow. I would not mind if I was eating at a 5 star resort in the Caribbean but when I am eating rice in a dirty room with one green fluorescent tube light and broken chairs I get a bit disappointed. I think my peanut butter and jelly crackers will be mainstay diet for the next five days. I havethree lovely oranges I purchased in Accra for $1.50 each and I am saving them for my breakfast for the nextthree days.

We are supposed to speak at the Nurses Conference on Friday but I still have not heard confirmation that they have a sponsor for the event. I again reiterate my concern that I will not be preparing lectures until I hear that it is happening and I need at least a few days advance notice. I do not think our coordinators understand how long it takes to prepare aone hour lecture and they have asked me to speak for at leastthree to fourhours.

Both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health have refused any financial support. There is no such thing as big pharma here so commercial sponsors are unlikely. I have also been informed that nurses will likely resist paying for this conference due to their low paying salaries. I am not optimistic it will happen and I am frustrated by the lack of planning and decision making on this event. This, along with a new charge for transportation (which was not revealed on the original proposal) has me steaming mad tonight.

These unexpected financial burdens almost ruined my experience last year and I am holding firm to no new charges beyond this fee. I have very wisely retained 1/3 of the portion of our land fees until all charges have been established and we get a bit closer to our departure date. AFRICED is a new organization and has improved their services to us this year based on lengthy feedback from us but I have ongoing concerns with communication breakdowns. They are truly wonderful people who are trying so hard to improve the health and welfare of the people of Ghana.I am hopeful this is the only glitch in our otherwise wonderful trip.

Tomorrow we begin our observation and other clinical work at the hospital and clinic in Kpando. I am sure that there will be many stories to tell tomorrow but I must go to bed. We need to be ready by 8 am.I hope there are no roosters outside my window tonight.

Day 5: ‘The Gifts: Education, Land and Experience (and lack of modesty)’

Today was our full day in Peki. Our plan is to implement the community projects that the students have been planning.

Last evening I had to make a public announcement to the attendees at the Durfur about our programs. We had hoped to have no more than 50 children for the Nutrition Program and about 20-25 mothers of young children for the malaria program.

Due to the exact time of both programs in different locations I have to rely on Maura to evaluate one of the programs. I evaluated the Nutrition program. This was a program targeted school age children and to teach them about healthy foods and the benefits of exercise.

Obesity is not a problem in Ghana but rather malnourishment is a problem. The children (and some of the parents) do not have an understanding of the various types of food. Although in this environment the children often eat whatever is made available to them we wanted to empower them a bit with some knowledge to help guide any decision making that they may be involved with regarding food choices.

The program was attended by at least 80 children along with a few mothers. The students need to use an interpreter to convey their message. Although English is spoken in the schools here in Peki, many of the children communicate primarily in their native dialect. The UMass Lowellstudents had prepared a craft project to coincide with their lesson but we had only enough material for 50 children.

Remarkably these children happily share the project with their friends. They did not know what a glue stick was but by the end of the program they had a paper plate with pictures of health food glued on them. We wanted the children to take the plates with them but the plates were collected by the clinic nurse (who was our interpreter) who felt that they would be good teaching tools for the mothers. I guess this logic makes sense because the mothers are the ones preparing the food. Each child left with a silly band bracelet and a smile on their faces.

The other project was a Malaria education program where the mothers received information about the signs and symptoms of malaria and how to take a temperature. The Nursing Students Without Borders club was able to purchase some thermometers and insecticide treated mosquito nets due to the generosity of the Lutheran church in Woburn.

We had hoped to give 30+ mothers a net when they left but we did not purchase enough. We have some additional church money left over to put toward our projects so we hope to purchase more before we leave. It was a great feeling at the end of the day when the students realized that their actions today have improved the health of so many in the village. It may even save the life of a young child who often die from malaria at young ages. It was a fitting way to repay the hospitality of this wonderful village.

After our programs we were treated to some cold water (actually they call them sachets of water which are the bagged purified water). The Chief of Peki asks to speak privately to Maura, myself and Jason. Jason is chosen because he is our only male student and the chief wants to recognize that and calls him a chief. We are offered some sweet red wine from South Africa and then followed by a small amount of a chocolate liquor called Takai. Both are quite good. And so begins the official discussion.

Land in Ghana is mostly privately owned and can be quite expensive and difficult to purchase especially for an outsider. Large amounts of land are controlled by the Chief. He is very pleased with the relationship between his village and the students from UMass Lowell and wishes to make a donation of land for our use. He would like to establish some type of building or structure(s) that would have lasting impact for the people of the region but also will bear the name of UMass Lowell. He encourages us to think about how this may take form.

He does not make this gift without much thought and I am proud yet concerned about being able to meet these expectations. This venture should not be entered into lightly because if done successfully could have lasting impact on both the people of Peki and future visitors from the USA. Maura, Jason and I leave this meeting with some trepidation but also with a sense of an important relationship that could transcend our national borders. This is an opportunity that will take some careful thought and planning but we do not make any commitments but express our appreciation of his trust and friendship.

Upon our return to our hotel we have a few hours to relax. This is the first time we have had some time to relax and it has not been after afive hour bus ride or after a 12 hour day. It is great to catch up on some rest because we will be working very hard for the nextsix days.

Our plan is to leave for Kpando tomorrow after we go a hypertension screening clinic in Peki. Tomorrow is Sunday so we must wait until after church and lunch are over before we can arrive in the village. Some of the student may go to church while others have decided to sleep late and enjoy the last few hours at this hotel.

I have told them that the accommodations at the next hotel are not as nice and we should expect more power outages and water problems. They are actually a bit excited about living a bit more rustic but I am sure that will wear off when they see a few bugs in their room or no internet because of power outages.

Every night we have a debriefing and talk about the day’s events. Tonight I could hear a difference in the students’ comments. I think they are finally coming to realize the enormity of what they are doing. I told Maura that I thought it was so brave of these students to take on this trip but she thought it was very brave for us (the Mamas) to take on this trip. I am not sure who is more brave but we all recognize that it is a truly remarkable experience that most of our friends and family will never experience and will only get a small glimpse of our adventures by looking at our pictures.

It is my hope as a nursing educator that this trip will make an impact in a way that traditional nursing practicums or lectures cannot even begin to compare. I believe that the students will develop an awareness of the blessings of their own lives at home in USA but also to become more acutely aware of the health and social disparities that are so prevalent beyond our borders and that they may now be empowered to address these issues at some point in their careers.

And to leave you all with a funny image rather than my soapbox comments. Two nights ago we made a presentation of new mattresses and some clinic supplies in the village of Ada. After enjoying some Fanta and Coke (no Diet Coke!) some of us needed to relieve ourselves before the long bus ride home. We were directed to the bathroom which was behind the clinic. Off we trot with our one little flashlight. We find the bathroom and Jason uses it first but reports back to us that is it quite disgusting, more like a small hole in the concrete. We take our chances outside rather than use the ‘hole’. I giggle when I think of my students merely 10 feet away in the utter darkness as their Professor King acts quite ‘unprofessor-like.’ Our daily struggles for the usual comforts of food, water and sanitation create a strange bond that many will never experience!

Day 4: ‘The Durfur at Peki’

Today we finally leave Accra to the Volta Region. This is the part of the journey that is tiresome because we have to re-load out bus with all the suitcases and boxes. It is another hot and humid day and the bus driver is working so hard to tie our boxes to the top of our small bus. We have come to realize that the location of our hotel is not ideal. Accra is a huge city and most of our destinations have been on the opposite side of our hotel. We have traveled 2+ hours each way in the evening and the morning and that only gets us across the city. We travel for miles but often end up sitting at traffic lights trying to not make eye contact with the plethora of street vendors. I would go crazy if I had to deal with this traffic every day.

We are headed to a fairly new orphanage on the way to Peki. It was founded by a woman from Spain who felt compelled to open an orphanage and has been able to leverage some of her connections in Spain and beyond to help support this institution. It is an interesting orphanage that houses special needs children, orphans and children of families that can no longer afford them. It appears to be a well run organization with multiple smaller buildings and nearby mango tree fields that are harvested by villagers to help support the costs of the orphanage. We are met by an assortment of children who are so glad to open our box of clothes, videos, books, beanie babies, toothpaste etc.. We hope to makethree other donations to orphanages in Ghana before we leave to return to the US.

We still have about 2+ more hours to drive to Peki. It is now 3:30 and we have been in the bus for since 10:45. We have had so much traffic today and this waste of time drives us crazy. We stopped for a while at the Kaneshie Market which was the scene oftwo episodes of the Amazing Race. It is a massive intersection with markets on all sides and throngs of people and cars. We idle but the side of the road while we wait for someone who has purchased insecticide treated mosquito nets for our malaria educationprogram tomorrow in Peki.

Our hotel in Peki is very nice. We arrive with the instructions to be ready to leave in 20 minutes. Despite spending all day in a bus we feel very dusty and dirty but there is no time for a shower. Off we go to Peki for our Durbur with the Chiefs. A Durbur is a ceremony that involves drumming, singing, dancing, greetings from the Chief and myself, a blessing with palm wine and lastly the African naming ceremony.

We are surrounded by hundreds of people from the villages of Peki. It seems like there are more children than adults. The kids are thrilled to see the American students and pose quickly for an array of photos. The drums start and the chief processes into the open area and sits in his designated area surrounded by the lesser chiefs.

There is not Queen Mother today but Maura was made an honorary Queen Mother last year so she is recognized and sits on the left side of the chief. I am recognized and after my introductory remarks are made I am asked to sit near my ‘Queen Mother.’ I joke around that I am her ‘lady in waiting’ but she hear the Chief’s comments better than me and she tells me that because I am a teaching at a University I have been given the title of the Queen of Linguistics. I don’t know if that is true but I will confirm that tomorrow.I kind of liked being a lady in waiting!

The Durbur was very surreal and like going back in time. We are surrounded by at least 500 people from the village . I can sense the energy and excitement from the people. They do not do this ceremony very often. The children sing and the young boys are beating on the drum. The music is long and rhythmic. The drums beating heavily and there is some dancing. The dancers are dressed in traditional Ghanaian cloth and dance on the dirt and small rocks. There is a cloud of dust over everything. The people steal glances at us and the children encroach upon our seats so that they can get close to the Americans.

I have to tell the crowd why we are there in their village and it gets interpreted by the chief. We invite them to our programs tomorrow but I am fearful because I have told the students to prepare a program for 50 children and 25 mothers but there are at least 10 times that much in the crowd. We have purchased about 20 mosquito nets and we have another 12 that we brought with us so we can leave over 30 nets with them.

The people are so welcoming and kind. Tonight I have been able to try the pounding of the Fufu. This is a dough that is prepared with kasava root and plantain or yam. The women have to pound these vegetables into a mush and then it becomes a dough like substance when water is added. When complete it resembles a ball of bread dough but they eat it like that with a spicy soup. When we returned at night one of the students, Jason, ordered some banku to try. This is similar to fufu but it is derived from corn powder with some kasava. He did not like the banku but found the soup not so bad until he discovered the whole fish in his bowl, head and all. The next day his stomach is a bit upset. I wonder if that will end his food trials.

It is now Day 6 and I am preparing to leave for the village to observe the student projects. They are excited to do their projects and are happy forfive days of getting to know the people because they had to modify their language in the program to match the phrases here in Ghana. Hot head means fever, waist pain is abdominal or back pain, catarrh is common cold etc. Time is short so I must go now. Thanks for your comments and emails.

Hail to the Queen Mother – January 12, 2010

I am exhausted right now but I must write a bit about what happened today. This morning was our last day in Kpando. Our plan was to have the large bus pick us up at 7 am for an 8:30 arrival in the city of Ho which is the capital of the Volta Region. We are scheduled be the main speakers at the first National Nurses Conference that is sponsored by AFRICED. Of course as usual we experienced a transportation glitch and the bus did not show up until almost 8:30 which put us very far behind. We load all of our suitcases and remaining boxes of supplies on the bus and leave Kpando. It is a bit sad for me because I don’t know if I will ever see this town again. The bus ride is very bumpy and this large bus is not as nice as our first one. I am worried about getting motion sickness of which I am very prone but as luck would have it one of the students beat me on that matter.

Upon our arrival at the hotel where the conference was being held I was immediately met but our friend Nicolas who informed me that the Minister of Health was due to arrive at any moment with his entourage and the national press. We are told to suspend our lectures until he arrives. There is so much protocol that must be adhered to. I am a bit anxious because the nurses from Ghana have been waiting for our arrival and now we are being told to wait a bit longer. To make matters worse there appears to be some financial concerns as AFRICED has been unable to procure private or governmental sponsors for this program and they do not have the funds to pay all the expected expenses of the day. I am a bit upset when I realize that there is no financial support from the governmental sector. On one had I am very happy to have the UML students and myself give our lectures( free of charge) but I am concerned that other bills for this program will not be paid. I have already obtained some financial support from Eta Omega Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau for a small part of the expenses. After some deliberation Maura and I decide to give some of our personal funds to help support the expenses. We are told that to cut costs we must speed up the lectures to 10 minutes each so the nurses can leave early and we won’t be responsible for feeding them. I understand that this is the first type of program that has been offered in this region but I am also disturbed that the program is being funded and subsidized by us and not the Ghanaian government. It is hoped that the minister will be happy with this program and consider supporting a similar program next year. The students excel in their presentations and make me very proud, although it is very hard to do justice to some of our topics in 10 minutes. The Ghanaian nurses are attentive and ask appropriate questions. I am very heartened to see Sister Magdalene from Margret Marquart hospital. She is such a kind and friendly soul it makes me glad that she has traveled the distance to hear us speak.

There were speeches by the Minister and then I was told I needed to give a keynote address. Well I had about 10 minutes warning and put together a decent speech. The national press was there and I can only imagine what my hair looked like but at least no one at home will be seeing my on TV. At the completion of our program we were able to give to each of the participants either a blood pressure cuff or stethoscope. I have purchased about 50 of those items as my donation to the nurses of Ghana. It is my belief that the nurses here need access to better education and tools and that my little token is one way of helping them provide good nursing care.

We conclude our program and after official pictures are taken we jump on our bus for the ride to Peki. After an hour we arrive in village that sites in the valley between some pretty decent hills (I would not classify them as mountains). It is typical of many of the other villages we have passed but the children are so excited to the Yo-Vo’s (white women). We check into our guest house which is adequate but a VERY far leap from the worse Motel 6 you would see in the USA. This is true Ghanaian accommodations. The floors are somewhat dirty, there is one light bulb hanging from the ceiling, there is a noisy fan (no AC), a toilet that doesn’t flush and a shower that has a trickle of water and a huge spider on the wall. But is has 2 beds and screens on the windows so it is fine. We are told we need to leave for the ceremony and we are intrigued. After a very short drive we arrive at the main village where the chief lives. It is dark now but there are some scattered lights. We can see that there is a huge crowd. It is hard to estimate the number but we are told that the population is about 1000 and I think that there has to be as least 500-700 people there. It is a sea of people comes to welcome the white nurses to their village. The children rush the bus and as we start to take pictures they yell in delight every time a flash goes off. There is no pushing or shoving but rather an appreciative and curious swarming of our group. We are ushered to a place of honor in the center of the village under a roof of palm leaves. I am again amazed at the number of people who are here. All eyes are on us. The drumming and singing begin and are amazement is just beginning. We are told that it is the Paramount Chief who is sitting across the large open area from us. In front of his seat is his Linguist which I am assuming is a person who does some of his talking. On either side of him are the other lesser chiefs. They are all dressed in various colored garb. No western clothing on these dignitaries. Perpendicular to him is the place where the Queen Mother sites. I see a beautiful and brightly clothed woman sitting in her chair and it appears she has her own assistant or linguist that sits in front of her. Now begins the protocol.

There is much back and forth between our side of the circle and the chiefs’ side. One of the AFRICED volunteers is Mawuli who is the chief’s son and speaks to another man who then is permitted to speak to the chief. If I was home in the US it would be a simple matter of a man telling his father ‘hey Dad, I have some people for you to meet’ but here all the correct protocol must be followed. After a while we are then treated to about an hour of performing. There is much drumming and singing and first a dance by a group of young women and a few young boys. I am struck by the fact that had it not been for the large fluorescent bulb nailed to the nearby tree one could imagine they were in an African village 100-200 years ago. There is no evidence of any modern elements except for the occasional flash of the camera and our western attire. The performances keep coming. We are treated to some lovely singing by a women’s group. It is more than 4 part harmony. It sounds like an orchestra of instruments and accompanied only by drumming. It is beautiful and I have a moment thinking of my dear mother in law who loved this type of singing and would have been thrilled to be sitting next to me. Our next performance is a series of short war dances performed by young boys. It is meant to be somewhat frightening and they have their symbolic ‘knife’ which is a stick and they make angry gestures to members of the audience. The younger children on the sidelines scream in terror when the dancer comes to them. The dancer does some facial contorting and has a look to his eyes which is meant to be menacing. It is effective in creating a sense of danger and war.

We were exhausted earlier but now we are running on adrenaline. We realize that we are experiencing something that not too many people from the US will ever see. The dancing and singing subside and we are then presented to the chief. He welcomes us as daughters to his family and we are given our African names. My name is Valerie Ami Aboagyewaah King. A woman ties a beaded string on our wrist and we must great the Chief and Queen Mother and are accepted into their family. We are all standing there except Maura and I am trying to indicate to Mawuli that she has been forgotten. Before I get his attention they announce that they are making Maura a Queen Mother of the Village. She is invited up and a group of women descend upon her and wrap her in a large heavy robe make of Kente fabric, jeweled sandals and a headdress. She is made to sit on a stool with her feet resting on an animal skin. Her arms and hands are powdered and she is positioned to sit in a certain way. Important words are said, applause happens and we (the UML group) must go and give our respects to our new Queen Mother. I am told that Maura was chosen over me because she is a few years older and it must be given to the older woman. She is then placed next to the Queen Mother to reign over the rest of the proceedings. I return to my seat and now the big drumming and singing begins. The students leave me with their bags and cameras and I am the photographer for the next 30 minutes of frantic and loud dancing. The young kids swarm my seat to watch me with the camera and I can no longer see Maura in the crowd. At this point the Ghanaian people all come to dance and many of them take the opportunity to dance with all the young American nursing students. There is much touching and at times the girls have to fend off wandering male hands but even the Ghanaian women touch the students. Then it becomes evident to me that they touch each other as well. It is a surreal experience but the UML girls stick together and seem to manage ok. They return back to me very sweaty but exhilarated with the experience. A woman brings a large bowl of palm wine to our table and we are told to drink. We repeat the customary sipping of the wine from the coconut bowl and then the remainder is dumped on the ground. There is some significance to this dumping and I can’t recall the meaning but we did it last year in a previous ceremony. The wine tastes like soured orange/lemon juice. Most of us are taking tentative sips being more afraid of germs from sharing a common cup than actually drinking the wine. We are hoping that the alcohol will kill some of the germs.

We have been here for 3 hours and we are very tired. Our UML Queen mother is being disrobed somewhere so we walk back to our bus. The crowd has slowly dispersed and many of them have to walk miles back to their own smaller villages. There are no street lights. Small children are walking along the road mere inches from the open sewer trenches. Our bus takes us to one more stop. We are dropped off at the home of Mawuli’s uncle and he serves us more palm wine. This wine is slightly better tasting than the other batch but there are multiple coconut bowls circulating around the room. I wonder if they expect us to get drunk on the palm wine but we are drinking very little. We are on a small porch and the men have left to go drumming and the children of the village surround us. I try to converse with them but they do not seem to understand our questions. They are staring and seem enthralled with us. Eventually the men return and we go back to our bus. Back home in our room we shower in the dark (no bulb in the bathroom… but the spider scurries away when the water starts. I am refreshed by the water but emotionally and physically exhausted but I must write this all down so I can remember. Tomorrow we will have a busy day in our new home of Peki.