Wednesday, January 24, 2007

By the light of the computer screen

January 21, 2007

I'm writing this entry by the light of the computer screen - there are rolling blackouts across the city throughout the week. Tonight it's my neighbourhood's turn. I only discovered this when I arrived home here at 9:30.

My day was relatively uneventful. I got up at 10:30 - for the past several days it's been like this. I guess it will come to an end when I begin work early next week. We're still an orientation phase. It's been nice, though, catching up on sleep. It may be part of the reason why I haven't gotten sick yet. I haven't even experienced symptoms from the malaria pills. This is the fourth time I've taken them, and got sick only once so far - when I was in Panama with Sean in the spring. I should be careful not to jinx myself by writing about this. Stay tuned...

I had been wearing the same "trousers" for four days so I washed them and a shirt in a bucket and hung them online so they'd be ready for work tomorrow. I got measured today but the trousers won't be ready for a few days.

I decided to walk around today on my own to familiarize myself with the city. I tend to follow the people I'm with when I travel, so it was nice to have this day on my own to wander around.

The city landscape reminds me most of big cities like Delhi in India. It's relatively flat and very dusty, despite the humidity. It has two million people and is spread over a very large area. There several tall buildings across the city, but most are no more than five stories high.

The sky is hazy and overcast, and will be like this until the end of February, I'm told. There are northerly winds that are blowing the sand from Sahara south over the entire country. They're called the Harmattan winds and they blow every year at this time. It's reminds me of the southerly winds that bring the fog to the Bay of Fundy in the summer, I guess, only it's not so thick at ground level!

The sands cover the blue sky and obscure the sun. In the late afternoon, it looks like a yellow ball trying to poke through a light grey cloud cover. I find it beautiful and the idea of the sands blowing down from the Sahara strikes a romantic chord. Of course, the dust is probably contributing to my breathing problem so I'll be happy to see blue sky again come March.

- Mark

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