Feb 7- The Hemattan winds came, covering Ouagadougou in dust and leaving everyone shivering. There was a day that it must have been 106 degrees, and then the next was maybe 75. Day one- I complained a lot, day two- everyone else complained. When I laughed at my friend for being worried about me without a hat on, he said- Maria, coldness is a serious thing. I just heard on the radio 11 people died of the cold in Armania. I said it probably needed to be a bit colder then this, and he looked skeptical. The Hemattan is an annual storm in which dust from the Sahara comes down on everything like a fog, and vision is limited by the thickness of the dust in the air. Burning man people you can relate. It comes and goes fast, leaving everyone sneezing.
My friend Yanick is not well off, he has gotten really sick, due to a cracked scull that is a two year old injury that wasn’t taken care of the first time around. Honestly, trying to find him medical attention has taken up my week, my mind and heart. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EMERGENCY HEALTH CARE HERE. ZERO. He is in a lot of pain, and people don’t really even think of the doctor. In fact everyone thinks im being over the top. Grin and bear it is the way people deal with most things here, including situations that by all means are what I consider an emergency.There is a shocking lack of doctors. There is one sergion who can work on his scull in the entire country. And he is all booked up for a couple weeks. So, Yanick is immoble and eating Ibuprophen like its popcorn, losing vision, forgetting things, and scared. Its a pretty scary situation.
The effects of my frusteration have been pretty useful for my art. I have been going to town with the electric grinder, sanding and chopping the heck outof everything in my path. Usually sanding isnt really my cup of tea, but feeling handicapped by the poverty of the country in this personal of a way has assisted me in being inspired by the destructive side of sculpture.
I gave a few of my pieces to a tuareg who lives around the corner and he is making little ebony doors that will be inlayed in them. I am pretty excited, and am also ordering some masks made for me, to make sculptures with.
The internet has gone from slow to rarely there, and it might be a few days before I actually get this message off. Having discovered that the only way to make anyone actually do anything at the forge is by standing over their head watching, and having a very lonely and sick friend gives me two full time jobs, and Im just trying to fit in time to do laundry and take a shower everyday. Soon I will start blogging regularly, I promise!
FEB 10 Update- So apparently the internet problems are caused by a fire in Benin, where some internet chords come from or something. It happened a few days ago, and things are sort of starting up again. Yanick is all doped up on medicine that makes him sleepy but in less pain. No clear next step.
On a lighter note, I bought the hand crank fan that you use to build a forge today. I am officially in the path to building a forge for myself on San Juan Island this spring!!!