Its not the first time I have peered through crowds of people in foreign places to wait for my mom to arrive off of an airplane, and I know it wont be the last. Her curly little head and cheerful smile, pushing a mountain of luggage (mostly gifts and food) made my heart skip and we both squealed like little girls in excitement. It was 10:00 at night, but we were both too excited to go home, so we walked all over the town in the dark. When we got to my room, my neighbor Alymata gave her a mattress to borrow for the visit, and she set to work on disinfecting my room and life (now we have a shoes off area of my little bunker of a room.)
In the morning, we set to work making american burritos for everyone. We went to my work, where they have a gas stove, (which is pretty rare and classy in these parts,) with a mountain of fresh rice and beans, three bags of shredded cheese, a giant thing of salsa, and forty flour tortillas. We made a mountain of burritos and went around delivering then to everyone, starting with the boys at my work, and then moving on to my generous Togolese neighbors. Needless to say all forty burritos are gone, and many people licked their lips at our “mange american” (american food.)
The day took a turn for the sober, when I called my Ngoni professor Amedou to invite him for a burrito, and found out that the malaria he had last week hasn’t gone away. Worried, we went to meet him and found him really really sick, really skinny and pretty delerious. Amedou is a master craftsman, and the one who actually makes the Ngoni’s that other people sell and say they make. He is from a family of griots, and shoudn’t be as poor as he is, because he is an exceptional and talented human being.
He got sick last week, and I tracked him down because he didn’t return my phone calls. He had malaria, and hadn’t gone to the hospital because he didn’t have the 8 dollars to go. I sent him there on the double as in three days he had lost about 7 pounds. But because he went to the hospital late, the malaria returned. I talked to him yesterday and he said he had gotten better, but today he was really sick again. We all went to the hospital together, (which like every thing else is made of mud bricks and concrete and has open windows and walls. The hospital here has none of the squeeky clean feeling of a hospital at home.) The nurses here are pretty gruff and after interrogating him about medicine intake, they lay him down and injected him with all sorts of things. My poor mom went from one extreme of the planet to the other in 24 hours. We crept out of the hospital to the sound of him throwing up. My stomach clenches when I think about how without 8 dollers, Amedou could have died tonight. The average life expectancy is 45 here. Its sadder when you know it is such preventable things that kill people.
After getting immediately smacked in the face with the reality of Burkina Faso, my strong, adaptable and amazing mom is helping me plan a trip for us for the next week or so. I cant wait to leave the town for a bit, head to the village somewhere.