Meet Mr. Heat Exhaustion

May 27, 2009

May 26, 2009

When the folks back home inquire about the climate here in Fractaville, Uganda, I’m quick to point out that the temperatures soar far less than in the summers in Georgia.  The climate is moderate despite our location on the equator.  Warm.  Not HOT.  A good bargain with the Sun.  The lush elevation.  The credit also goes to the influences of the (Schistosomes-full) Great lakes.

Although in the sun the rays seem to concentrate their energies like a magnifying glass, in the shade it feels like spring in Ga.  I proudly wear Z-shaped Chaco tan lines on my feet.  My counterpart joked that I will truly be an Ugandan in two years and he could even pass for my biological brother.

Spending several hours riding around on my newly repaired conglomerated Shimano soaking the Ugandan sun visiting the 35 schools in the area will be a quadriceps and gluteus strengthening experience.  My counterpart suggested we visit the closer schools first, so I gradually get accustomed to the heat and exercise.  I decided to go on a 8-km test ride from Fractalville to Bunytown, the quiet town we’re moving to in a few weeks.

1:15p.m. I hopped on the bike while Fractal, who didn’t own a bike yet, took a taxi.  Many heads turned at the helmeted muzungu wearing a black skirt.

When I walk on the streets, the children’s voices calling out “muzungu” climb in decibels.  muzungu. Muzungu. MUZUngu. MUZUNGU. MUZUNGUMUZUNGUMUZUNGU!!!  Instead of the usual yelling, the children whispered “muzungu.”  I noticed that none of them increased in their frequencies during my ride.  I wondered whether they were cautious in their muzungu singing to ensure that I don’t fall off my bike.

Even though I can tolerate the muzungu mania, I get fairly annoyed when I hear men make sucking noises at me.  I wanted to tell them what trainers suggested to say when confronted with inappropriate comments, or behavior. Oline mpisa embi. You’ve bad manners. Except I didn’t remember my survival Lusoga.  Instead I rode my bike without stopping and changing the gears through the three hills and valleys.

1:45p.m. Breathless and dehydrated, I arrived at the destination where Fractal and my counterparts were awaiting.  I got off the bike and walked towards them.  I could hardly speak when I informed Fractal that I felt a bit strange.  The water I drank gave me little relief, and I craved for a cold Fanta.  I asked Fractal for some of his water.

Then I heard my husband’s voice grow faint, and everything went white.  BLANK.  I gained consciousness after several seconds and I felt the ground underneath me.  Fractal who elevated my legs poured some water on my head and gave me water to sip on from his Klean Kanteen.  He called the Peace Corps Medical Officer and narrated what happened.  While I was recovering, I looked up to see the Peace Corps Education Program Director.  Shocked and confused to see me laying down on the ground, she looked at Fractal and my counterparts for an explanation.  After they fill her in on what happened, she turned to me.  Smiling I say, “Welcome to Bunytown!”

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