Thursday, March 29, 2012


so - did i mention i am the owner of a devil horse?

Joanne - a woman from South Africa who was here working in Bendalay (2
miles away) was being gracious and riding Bob for me while i have been
hobbling around and generally useless. Today she took him to the river
- on the way back he did the SAME thing to her - clamped down on the bit
and raced back to the hospital - somehow she got thrown and now has a
broken tib/fib and a cast.

so now, in the space of 2 weeks - he has broken 3 bones - pretty

everyone here is now suggesting we carve him up and sell the meat at the
market - horses are rapidly becoming a very unpopular topic with the
docs and the powers that be -

any training suggestions would be helpful - although i am here sans
round pen and with limited time - I just don't want to give up on him yet.

so, i'm removing the red millet from his diet and as soon as my bones
heal i'll probably get back on him -

I never was one to learn a thing the easy way

but whoever coined the ludicrous phrase "if your not falling your not
learning" has apparently never fallen off a horse in Tchad and
experienced broken bones during the hot season

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


So. just a short update.

that's me sitting in bed acting as happy as possible considering I've
been in the same bed for 10 days - but just know I am alive and doing so
much better

s/p sacral fx.

or whatever it was that I fractured

so, after over 10 days of being in bed, the days melting together in an
agony of excruciating pain - now I am finally up and about on crutches

i move at roughly the same speed as a senile slug and as long as I don't
put weight on my left leg

still experiencing strange lower back numbness

and then more pain when i over-estimate my abilities.

but, i AM getting better

I hate being useless. hate it. hate it. hate it.

the problem is that I live 10-15 minutes walk from the village to the
hospital on a brisk, good day

I can't ride a moto

so that means, when I go home, I am stuck there until.... i decide to
walk back.

but at least when I'm home I can start getting serious about French and
at least I won't be as lonely.

interesting how things happen that show you that things you though were
hard - were actually easy in retrospect

but so it goes in Africa

every new challenge making the day before look like comparative bliss

one day at a time

one day at a time

at least i think that's how its supposed to go

oh, and I'm 24.

I can think of few things more depressing

but I am so grateful to be alive

thanks everyone for keeping in touch and for expressing your concern




*** wrote this a few days before women's day - the tchadian women do a dance here, the movement is in the shake of the shoulders, and when they dance they scream, a high pitched trilling almost-yodel except its so much more than that. 


I am so happy right now! I want to write in yellows but it yellow doesn’t stick on the page – too much wild sunshine. 

I have had the best evening in the world.  I can’t stop smiling.  I am alive.  I feel alive.  That moment where it all collides and you are exactly where you are supposed to be and you dancing to the funky groove of the moment. 

The heat of the noon is slithering away and the sky and the trees and the ground are swirled in a faint limpid coolness. 

I am taking a bucket shower, the sun golden on the mangoes,  mangoes that are draping every branch mangoes hanging ripe and luscious and greenorange, the branches are cracking and swollen with fruit, like a thousand sticky sumptuous gems rolling around your tongue and smiling in your eyes. 

The sunlight slanting through the smooth green rippled leaves, cupping the mangoes and shimmering in the last rays of the fading heat heady mangostean mirage

Orange bucket and scan for cockroaches,  listening to bob marley like I’d never heard him before. Get up stand up, Splashing the cool murky water down my back and finally, a shiver, the delicious shiver of a sliver of cold.  A little ice cube piece of heaven in the fruit filled sauna.  And its drench your hair and face in tea tree, the smell of tea tree makes you feel alive.  Your lungs shiver with pungent smoky mint tipped gypsies, magoes on the eyes marley on the ears tea trea in the nose water splashing and slipping down the pathways of the skin, cool and blessed and golden and orange and fresh and brown and alive. 

Wrapping up in a yellow purpled tie-dyed magenta tapestry, both feet in the bucket, sloshing and grooving to the beat of one love, stringy orange coconut fruit hanging in clusters at the tops of the palm looking trees, a swoosh of a tail and the horse munching bean leaves, the buzz of a fly and the stomp of a hoof, a rat tat smat and the children are banging on the pots again, the grandmothers curled rainbows of earthen reds and blues, finally breathing the departure of the sun, the crackle of the cookfire and the smoke that sears the nosesniff and waters the eyes, the smoke of the alive, the smoke of the departing sun, the throaty crickets, if you remember them, their buzzhum tunnels deep into the subconscious

Drinking spicey black tea with generous heaps of powdery milk, sitting on the mat, under the neem trees, the sun is gone and the greys and pinks and the tea is hot and I blow on it.  And the dark spice stings my tongue and alive I am alive grandmother making a face as she takes her antibiotics, childrens fingers tugging at my hair, pulling and clumsy and braiding, alien shapes and wild curls, and then the stars peak out, the simmer and sizzle like tiny omelets, the stars are alive and I am alive and the trees and the mangoes and the earth is round and all things sway in the twisting breeze

And then its laughing about Women’s day, March 8, the upcoming, the amazing, the day the hardworking women of chad wave their calloused hands in the air and quiver their shoulders like rattlesnake ttttttttttttssssssssssss and stomp stomp little stomp of the feet and the hips follow the shoulder and AAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYIIIIIIIIIIIIIYIIIIIIIIIIIIYIIIIIIIIIIIIIII and the tongue and is loose and it tears pure from the throat and halleluiah and its pitched and piercing and goes right through you, taking the soul flailing wild behind it, tearing through the skeleton and a thousand bluebirds explode into the sky.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIYIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIYIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII and twist and the beat and now we are a circle and the scream rises from deep in the earth, furious and tearing and twisting up the roots of the mother tree and  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAYIIIIIII and it bursts into the air like a headless dragon and the tongues are a blur of a quivering perfect earthquake pitch AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYYYYIIIIIIIIIIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

And this is the dance and the song of women’s day.  The day where Teskrio says he will make tea and I promies top Ramen for everyone for dinner and we make Bikaou shake hands that she won’t actually work and Teskrio shake hands that he will actually make tea and we all laugh and the tears pop out of their ducts as we imagine him making boule or lighting sticks on fire. 

And we all scramble around the recording I made of the ladies singing in church, the rhythmic elbows of the drummers, Bikaou dancing her way from the front to the group of women, dancing and rattling and Jesus and its in Nangere but the hands in the air and the AAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYIIIIIIYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAYAAAAAAAA In the language of the past, the language of the future, the sound of foundation, the sound of wings, the scream of the ancients that gave birth to this country, the scream of the mothers that carry it forward. 

And in that moment the true queens emerge and we the subjects are spellbound.  AAAAAAAIIIIIIyyyyyIIIIAAAA and in that moment no one can doubt the raw passion and strength that propels this country forward, the hands that gave life to the next generation flapping in the sky, the yell of their moment, their song, dancing the spiderhop threads that weave together the complexities of the tchandian spirit, that this is their song, their time, their story, and we watched crowded heads in the darkness and the 2 year is jumping and dancing a jerkey jumpdance as the chant rolls fuzzy and raw from the shakey recording.  

And we all get up on the mat and dance, trying to do the rhythmic shoulder shake, collapsing from laughter looking more like a beserk kettle of popcorn spitting and hissing and spopping in the light of the fire. 

And then its MIA and ringa ringa ringa and weaving our way up and down the mat, making waves with our arms, fluid and reaching laconic for the stars

And its back in the mosquito net and turning off the headlamp and can’t stop staring at the stars and realizing that this, this is happiness.  This is alive. 

Then Susan Tedeschi and can you feel it, bound for glory, can you feel it, I’m glory bound and playing it over and over and fingers flying trying to capture this night, this moment, then its Eric Clapton and deep searing blues and Warren Haynes Band and gotta let your soulshine and I’ve never been so happy.


Sometimes you wonder how you found yourself somewhere.  Like how I am sitting in on a hard wooden bench in a concrete church with open windows and blue shutters.  The wind is hot and gusty, seeming to come from somewhere else.  I can't help but dream of exotic things and far away brightly colored places.

like the soft strumming of a cracked guitar, leaning against a gypsy wagon in morroco or spain, plaiting wild roses into my hair

like the fluttering of ragged prayer flags on a mountain peak in the far off Himalayas


Or sitting with legs dangling off the Great Wall of China


Or, or


So many things I want to do, to see, to experience

but this breeze
this mild spicy breeze
this just perfect blend of warm tinged cool
this breeze is here
this breeze is now
this breeze is the hum of the bees
    fat yellow and black
       divebuzzing my hair

the now breeze
the dust-tipped wings of the chaff
rolling off rice field breeze

the now of the wind
the echo of the wind
the wind
the wind
 the murmured collective
of the insect
the earth
the oxen
the of the people who live and breathe and love and laugh and cry and exist here

and it is

it’s the little things here

the way a mango squishes pulpstring orange between your teeth
the tough green skin wedging itself in the canyon where gum and tooth and tooth collide

the little things

the now breeze

its being barefoot on hot pebbled sand red and crunchy between your toes

its every night the lullaby of distant drumming, the thud thud thum and muffled high pierced chanting

its sleeping under the alert and wild christmastreelight stars, a thin sheen of mosquito net all that keeps you from being sucked into the pale black sky

its dunking gateaux in spicey steaming amber tea a searing gulp in the morning

its morning

its chicken scream before dawn the slow rustling of village on the rise and yawn and crack the back

       and shwwiii shwiii the rhythmic sweeping of the women that brushes across my subconscious whisking away the clutter of left over dreams and teasing open gritty eyes

it’s the bonjour from Bikaou and salute ma fille from Grandmere and the shy chorus of good morning Jannie from Exose and Kazi

 it’s a high5 and pound it through the mosquito net from Arnou, the 2 year old and

its roll over and groan and cringe and try to pull the dreams back over my eyes breathing the last faint remnant of dawn before the heat hangs thick and steaming on the trees and the feet and the faces

and it’s the little things

the things that make your wonder how you found yourself here

in this place

at this time


Monday, March 26, 2012


What happens to a heart, when it has no voice

What happens to a hope, when it has no wings

What happens to a wish, when there are no stars

What happens to a dream, when it has no chance

What happens to a love, when it has no return

What happens to a woman, when she has no choice.


I want to write a  book about the women of Tchad.

Tchad from their eyes, from their hearts, from their reality.

What is it like to live here, knowing will never leave

What it like to dream here, when you have no avenue of pursuit

What happens to a woman here, when every day she is beaten down, farther, and farther,.

What happens to her soul, if she tries to rise up. 

I want the stories

I want the truth

I want to know the women,

 the backbone consigned to the background.

I want to know their stories.

Chad, the place the world forgot

I want it to hear the women

To hear their  voices

to amplify those voices

What is it like to be a woman in the country named by the

WHO in 2010 as the most violent and unequal towards women in the world? 

what is it like??


so, since i can't walk well right now - i think i'll try to write

I am going to get a translator and start recording stories

I have always wanted to write - and i'm terrified to actually undertake it - because what if i fail.  but i'm not getting any wiser, just older, so i think the time is now. 

.to you


to you

To the country I both love and hate

To the country of both darkness and light

To a country I both despise yet am fascinated by

To you,


The definers would call you a “failed state”

They would call you corrupt.  They would rank you abysmally on the human development index.  They would project that your chances for economic growth are dismal based on civil war, governmental mismanagement, ethnic diversity, lack of infrastructure

You are a footnote

You barely make your appearance in literature

Or in any scholarly journals of note

When you are mentioned, it is to prove a point.  A point about poverty, a point about the third world. a point about what happens when everything collapses

Your story can be found in fragments

Your citizens work too hard to have the energy to hold a pen

You listen to the music of Cameroon

You will probably never leave your country

You are being killed by malaria

You are being killed by AIDS

Your people are starving

Your peace is fragile

Your leader is corrupt

Your women are beaten

Your men are despondent

Your economy is not growing

To you


To you I say change is possible

To you I say growth is reachable

To you I say education is attainable

Because of you


you – who walk five miles to school every day

 you  - who take a pay cut to work here in a mission hospital

you – who ran here with your child so it could live

you – who get up before dawn to gather sticks to sell in the market

 you – who help out your neighbor in his hour of need

you – who demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit

 you -  who get up every day anyway

 you  -  who spend every waking moment finding food for your children anyway

 you -  who never stop wishing, who guard your fragile dreams with resilience

 you  - who layed your first child in the ground, but fight for the others anyway

to you


To you  - who want to be equal

To you -  who want a chance

To you -  who want to be treated with dignity

May you find your voice

And may someone listen

May you find your strength

And start to build

May you hold onto hope

And let it grow

May you work for peace

And turn to reason

May you go to school

And fight for knowledge

And to you,

 To the west

May you not just write a check

But may you come here

May you not close your eyes

But may you look squarely at us

May you not just forget

But may you strive to remember

May you use your talents

Use your education

Use your resources

Use your time

Use your heart

Use your courage to take the hard road

Use your mind to create the right solutions -

To help build a better tchad

May you not forget us

May you come here

And see for yourselves

May you help us

To help ourselves

Because we do not need money

We need infrastructure

We do not need hand outs

We need education

We do not need NGO’s

We need empowerment

We do not need sympathy

We need micro-finance

We do not need a check

We need your time

But most of all

We need you to know

Because maybe

If you know

you cannot claim ignorance

ignorance is the opiate of the conscience

may you have the courage to know

that here,

people are starving

that here,

children are dying of treatable illnesses

that here,
almost everyone has lost more than one child

that here,

there is no clean water

that here,

there is no gender equality

that here,

women have no rights

that here,

is extreme poverty

that here,

is the will to survive

so when you go to bed tonight

may you have the courage

not to forget us




            The Boat Called Risk

There once was a boat called Risk
    and it sailed on the vast sea of dreams
        it sailed under shadows of moonscape
away from the sun's telling beams

Its oars were constructed of wishes
    light and thin in the loamy sea
       it didn't need north star or compass
just the wind of a dream set free

the passengers had no belongings
    they discarded them on the pier
        heaped up by the salt-bleached sign
"All Baggage Must be left Here"

The fare was their very last penny
    Once hoarded for future day
        the ping of the purge a dividing line
between those who would go or stay

and once on the boat the Captain said
    "you have left your all onshore
           yet I can give no guarantee
you'll find what you're looking for

you have left your friends and homes behind
    you have left the warmth of love
        forsook the solace of routine
for that which you know not of

you are both the brave and foolish
    you are both the young and the wise
        you have searched with the greatest courage
and have looked your soul in the eyes

so welcome my posse of dreamers
     to the Risk Boat's ragged crew
        we abandon land and anchor
as we row toward a dream come true

Written March 26 2:30 AM while struggling to stay awake to count the drips of baby Zane's quinine perfusion.  long live Africa.  and all the dreamers that give their all to voyage here.  and to all the the immigrants who give their all to leave here.