Sitting here at my desk I’m enjoying an orange that I picked from a tree in our yard. Living in Southern California does have some pretty serious perks. Although now in the middle of winter we have many warm afternoons. Imagining what it would be like here, I thought we would be having hot weather all the time. That has not turned out to be true. It is often cold in the mornings and evenings these days. It is much too cold to use the swimming pool over at the parish. I hope that by late May or June I’ll be able to take a swim each day.
Talked to Pat Patten, the Spiritan missionary that operates the two plane flying medical service in Maasailand Tanzania. It was during our weekly Spiritan Zoom get together where current and former Spiritans meet weekly on line. He said that the throng of thousands of people that turned out at the Dar es Salaam airport to pay their respects to John Magufuli, our Tanzanian president who died last week, turned into a riot. Massive security barriers were demolished and many people were trampled and killed, including many children. Pat commented that our insurrection of February 6th was small in comparison to the mehem that took place in Tanzania. Amazing, during his four year tenure as president he was not generally well liked; in death he has become a saint.
There is a Spiritan cemetary here at the parish where the “Western Spiritans end up. We have a new resident in our cemetary here in Hemet. Joe’s dog died of rheumatism and old age. Turk was friendly and smelly and Joe doted on and took great care of his pet. When visiting here some ten years ago I put a bowl of my favorite cookies, oatmeal raisin, on the night stand. On one of his regular snak hunts around the house Turk found and enjoyed my cookies. Joe rushed him to the vet hospital where Turk underwent a two night stay together with complicated and very expensive medical procedures to the tune of two or three thousand dollars to extricate him from my raisin delights. Turk survived and I bought more cookies that I carefully hid from Turk’s nocturnal foraging. Joe brings up Turk’s ordeal from time to time never having totally forgiven me for my part in Turk’s gastric emergency.
Haven’t posted anything for two years and now wondering if I can get back to it. In the mean time I’ve retired to Hemet California in the midst of Covet 19. I’ve been here for six months and am still in a daze. It was time to leave. Driving the Land Cruiser in the bush, preparing discussions to have in Maasai villages, traveling hours to do basic shopping. It all became to much. So here I am in Southern California dealing with all kinds of new challenges. Cooking for myself (lots of Stophers microwave meals), driving on the “wrong” side of the road, being isolated due to Covet and the American way (although I’ve gotten both vaccine jabs) and just the strangeness of it all.
One of the guys here is a dedicated Cicillian. He celebrates St. Joseph Italian day like others would with green beer on March 17th. Yesterday, the 19th we marked St. Joseph day with a wonderful steak dinner. It was very special with super cheese cake, Cicillian I think for desert. There was red Cicillian wine throughout. I missed out on the wine due to alcohol conflict with some meds I’m taking. That is another story. Red T-shirts were worn to honor the day, green for Patrick and I find out red for Joseph.
We were 8 Spiritans celebrating, Neil MicQuillan, Dan Abott, and Pierre Deglairre from Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Mike Onwuemelie, Joe Gaglione (the proud Cicillian) from Holy Spirit Parish and I. The six of us live here on the same compound. Bill Headly and Mike White came up from San Diego to be with us. It was a great to join with other Spiritans for some good conversation and a great meal.
Pat Patton’s Flying Medical Service came today with two dentists from Germany. Since there is no dentist for hundreds of miles around Olbalbal so this is a major event. Many people came to take advantage of the one off opportunity. A good few had extractions and cavities filled. Unfortunately, without an x-ray the dentist could not do serious surgery in the shade of the tree near the airplane.
The medical help Pat brings every two weeks is invaluable. Pat always has medicine whereas our small government medical clinic here at Olbalbal most of the time doesn’t.
This past week our Spiritan boss here in Tanzania, Fr. Philip Massawe spent a couple of days with us here at Olbalbal. He had the chance to accompany me on a couple of visits to Maasai villages for prayer services and a Maasai mass at Ngoile, the outstation some five miles from the main mission here at Meshili. At Ngoile there was a feast of goat prepared by the the Christian community. It was a good visit with time to talk with him about my work here at Olbalbal. After visiting all the Maasai missions here at Ngorongoro, Endulen, Nainokanoka, Olbalbal and Joe Herzstein’s Mission on the lip of the crater, we had a meeting. Joe hosted the gathering with roasted goat and rice. During the meeting part there was discussion of inculturation and the various needs of the missions.
During his stay, Philip had a chance to use my bucket shower and others joys of living in the bush. I use a bucket with a shower head attached and filled with water heated over our open cooking fire.and others joys of living in the bush.
Leaving the mission one day last week to go to a village for a teaching and prayer service, we passed a small herd of buffalo just a few hundred yards from my house.
We didn’t think much of it since coming across buffalo, giraffe and many other species of wild animals is a daily occurrence for us. Later in the day we found out that just minutes after we had passed the herd of Buff, a young warrior was gored and killed by one of them and his companion, also a teenage warrior, was badly injured. The mother of the dead boy is understandably devastated.
At 10 o’clock last night I was reading in my room and heard loud cries
from the kitchen where we cook over and open fire surrounded by three stones to support cooking pots. Malaye, our cook, spotted a red cobra near the fire. Yohana, a just graduated high school student staying with us ran into the kitchen with a stout stick and was able to kill the intruder.
The snake turned out to be a red cobra, a very venomous snake. We have a lot of those in the area. Putting the “dirty oil” around the house that I mentioned last week doesn’t seem to be doing the job. I think we need to look for a cat.
Yesterday morning Nosikari was cooking corn meal gruel for her children gathered around the fire. A loose branch holding the roof in place fell into the fire and ignited. Before she could properly react a wall had caught fire. Nosikari wasted no time in gathering up her two small children and fleeing from the burning house. Cooking pots, sleeping skins, blankets and some personal stuff were lost in the fire, but no one was hurt.
Cooking over an open fire in the middle of a house often causes tragedy. Small children, playing by the fire, frequently overturn pots filled with boiling liquid and are badly burned.
In addition to boasting of a population of friendly welcoming people, Olbalbal can boast, if boasting is in order, of a serious snake population.
We have a lot of snakes around here and they even get into the house. My latest attack method is a liberal application“dirty oil” around the outside of the house. By “Dirty Oil” I mean the oil that is drained from crank cases during an oil change. The garage in the city of Arusha
some six hours from Olbalbal where I have my Toyota Land Cruiser serviced every 3,000 miles has given me a couple of gallons of the stuff and I can get more from them in the future. It seems to be working. The Black Mamba that got into the house last year was a serious wake up call, to say nothing of the Puff Adder that got into the house a few months before.
The snakes are searching for food in the form of mice. We keep that population at a minimum with frequent applications of poison, but it is impossible to eliminate the mice completely.