So, three days before I left Africa for my little sojourn in the States, I noticed that the batteries on my solar power system weren’t holding a charge as well as usual.   I concluded that in order to fix this I would have to…


touch the batteries.

True confession-I don’t like touching car batteries.  There’s acid in them.  There could be acid on them!  I could touch acid, and then touch my clothes or my eyes or my cat…not much good comes of touching the batteries.

So.  I go to unscrew the little cap on one of the cells to see if I need to add distilled water.  As you can see, the battery is filthy, because dusting it would involve touching it. 

Apparently I haven’t looked at my battery either, because there was this little sticker on the cap, in English even.  Oops.

So, I take off all the little stickers, and start merrily topping up the distilled water in the batteries.  I have two sets of batteries-one on a table in my office next to all of my computer equipment and language materials, and the other on my kitchen floor.  I’m a little paranoid about the acid (big surprise) while I’m filling the ones on the kitchen floor, because I notice my eyes stinging.  Turns out it was sweat dripping into my eyes, and not horribly toxic and dangerous and nasty acid fumes.  I hurried up and finished my little filling job.

I’m really glad that I overfilled the batteries on the kitchen floor and not the ones in my office. 

Note to self:

If you put too much water in a battery, it overflows. 

A lot. 

Of acid. 


Thankfully, no damage was done, and the cement floor around the batteries and out my back door has never been cleaner. 

Phone home!!

Last night, my cell phone rang.  I jumped up and down and yelled because I was so happy!  Then I called all my friends that live in the same village to tell them the great news-they’ve turned on the cell network where we live!  No more climbing up a mountain or driving into town to make a phone call, we can do it from the comfort of our own living rooms!  Hurray for technology!

Potty break

OuthseMy outhouses, like most I see here, have these pipes sticking up.  I didn’t know what exactly they did, and honestly didn’t want to think too much about it.  Today I found out!  AfriGadget is a great blog, celebrating African ingenuity.  I’ll be spending hours poking through it, I’m sure!  I’m adding them to my blogroll so you can find it anytime you’re in need of an AfriGadget yourself.

However, I must confess that I do not use these outhouses.  Here’s a picture of my favorite thing in the house.  No running water yet, so I fill the tank by hand, but that’s fine with me!  That way I can use laundry water and other gray water very easily for flushing.  On a completely unrelated topic, for some reason every time I used the red eye remover tool in PhotoShop to try to fix this picture, it put black spots on my teeth and not on my eyes where I was clicking.  Strange.

I am a wimp…

…compared to the women I know here. 

My friend Sarah writes:  "The women here are amazing – they are so strong and resilient.  Three
come to mind just now.  I visited Amina in the hospital yesterday.  …  While
they were at the farm last year, Amina confided that she wanted to have
a child, and none were forthcoming.  A doctor was able to help, and she
became pregnant, due in February – so they thought.  On Friday she felt
some pain, and fearing complications she and her husband made their way
to Tanguieta.  As if it wasn’t hard enough riding a motorcycle on the
bumpy dirt road, the motorcycle broke down about 13 miles from
Tanguieta.  So they walked.  They arrived at midnight and went straight
to the hospital.  She gave birth the next day at 1pm to a beautiful
little girl!"  Read what Sarah says about the other two women here.

The incredible growing skirt

When I was teaching right after college, I had one of those
broomstick skirts. It was pretty, but a
little long. I’d roll it up at the
beginning of the school day, but by 3:30 it was dragging on the ground, even
though I kept rolling it higher and higher (doing wonderful things for my

Yesterday I thought I’d wear my nifty new wrap as a
skirt-it’s cooled off a little here, so it wouldn’t be too hot even though it
was rayon. Same thing. At the end of the day my skirt was dragging
(and my feet were filthy) even though I kept rolling it higher and higher.

I think it will make a nice tablecloth.


Had an electrician in today to do some odd jobs. He’s great with normal electricity, less so
with 12 volt, which he’s not very familiar with. I usually supervise everything that he does
with my 12 volt solar system, and check it before he goes. Today, however, I didn’t. In retrospect, I would have made the same
mistake he did. I am not a master
electrician. Anyway, I plugged in a fan
he’d wired after he left-short circuit. Destroyed at least one of the solar components, the charge controller. I’ve borrowed one from a friend, and ordered
two replacements from the States. Should
have had a spare anyway.

 It’s not a huge deal, I have lights with town power at
night, and a separate solar system for running my computer. Just kind of a pain in the neck, you
know? Those wonderful wire nuts came in
very handy today, as I disconnected the whole solar system and capped off the
wires so that there wouldn’t be any wires touching and causing any more