It's a week before my six-month mark here at post. I don't know why but that seems important to note.
Two weeks ago, little bugs started showing up in my master bathroom shower. I asked the Facilities Maintenance section of the embassy to come fix it. After one failed attempt, in which the facilities team came to my apartment and looked everywhere for bugs except in the master bathroom shower, they caulked and sprayed. The next morning there were bugs – termites, I then learned – streaming out of the holes in between bubbles of caulking.
I put in another work request and decided to use the guestroom shower. Turns out, there’s no hot water hooked up to that bathroom.
Work during the week was busy with last-minute emergencies, the arrival of a new boss and the process of getting him all settled in, and the discovery of really upsetting mistakes in long-term, highly visible projects. I stayed too late every night and didn’t get much done overall.
The facilities team then gave a repeat performance, in which they went to my apartment and checked everywhere for termites… except for the master bathroom shower. I held it together enough to ask the team, politely, to go back immediately. When I came home from work, the sight that greeted my eyes was one of a carpet of dead termites covering the floor of my shower. Also, several little dead bodies were caulked into the shower corners.
After washing the little buggers down the drain, so I could take a hot shower, I decided to check my e-mail. Turns out, the internet company turned off my internet. Though I paid for a full year of service (it’s usually monthly here), the company turns it off each month and it takes between a week and a month to get them to turn it back on.
On my way back from a friend’s house, a friend who had internet, I decided to go grocery shopping. I got lost, naturally, because there are many destinations that require knowing exactly where to drive between gaps in the road-side barriers in order to access them, and I missed the gap. Twice.
I gave up and ordered out. Put on a movie, settled back… and the power went out.
I realize that I’m privileged, in an amazing job, and that things are not at all bad. Compared to the majority of Mali’s population, I live in a palace, eat like a queen, and live a life of ease.
But this time, West Africa Wins Again.