Amphibious Lichtenstein

Today was what we call in New England a “wicked hot” day! The sun was intense but the workers kept going like it was just another day digging a three foot deep trench with pick axes and shovels. Since they had about 180 feet completed, I jumped in the muddy trough and began laying PVC water pipe. Connections were made at the storage building then over another 15 feet to the first poultry house, up a notch chiseled in the block wall and out to the front porch ending in a spigot to allow convenient refilling of the chicken drinkers. My band of boys handed down lengths of pipe along with fittings for transitioning from 1/2-inch to 1-inch and ultimately to 2-inch pipe that will run the remaining distance to the water tower. Since the diggers hadn’t reached that far, I leap frogged them and worked from the opposite end of the run by cutting into the water main at the foot of the water tower. Speaking of frogs… in less than 24 hours from last night’s rain, groupings of little black dots framed the edges of the puddles formed in the low points of the trench. Frogs had already laid eggs using a sort of propagation pointillism on a muddy canvas – a technique that would have made Lichtenstein proud. The drive to reproduce is strong here!

Sumo showed up with a man who is assessing repairs to the “spoiled” Deanville hand pumps on both wells. Unfortunately, one of the pumps has a lock and chain for which the man in possession of the key was not around. He’ll come back Monday for a full assessment and cost estimate.

A combination of heat-impaired brain function and visitor distractions – or perhaps an amphibious aberration – resulted in me gluing the right fitting in the wrong place up at the water tower. A few more cusses…oops, I mean CUTS…and an additional coupling to extend the pipe and we were back in business. A hefty 2-inch ball valve is now hanging out, awaiting its final hook up when the diggers have dug.

Meanwhile, Edwin was doing a great job of wiring, connecting the final light fixtures and switches, and installing the main 230V electrical panel brought back from Eagle Electric. He did a temporary tie-in to the generator and fired it up to test all the circuits so we know they should work properly once the sun starts supplying its celestial juice. He was obviously proud when he hauled me down from the water tower to demonstrate his electrical prowess.

Lavela is up in Lofa trying to get the wood from the bush that he ordered some time ago. Apparently, the wood seller lied to him and sold our batch of planks to someone else before Lavela arrived. He’s still up there trying to find an alternative source since our crew should have been deep into building trusses already. To keep the guys moving forward, I told them to work on pouring the concrete floor on the second poultry house because cement is readily available. John 2 made a cement run into Gbarnga and returned with forty bags.

By 3:30, the sun had won and I was wiped out. Around 5:00 we got our daily dose – or douse, as it were – of rain, making another comfortable evening. A quick and easy meal of Dinty Moore beef stew from my new provisions and I was a happy guy.

Yesterday I received a call that my former guest, Kathy, had fallen ill with fever, fatigue, vomiting, etc. I cautioned about malaria (though the incubation period fit, vomiting didn’t) and told them to keep an eye on dehydration, giving them the “recipe” for ORS (oral rehydration solution) just in case. Since Klay doesn’t have much in the way of clinics, I also contacted my friend, Randell, in Monrovia to find the best place for her to be taken should things go badly (since I didn’t feel the large JFK Hospital was the greatest choice either). Andy was supplied with malaria test kits from the Peace Corps. After checking with the head office, they decided to test Kathy and her results were negative. Reports today indicate gradual improvement. They head back to the US tomorrow so prayers for recovery and safe travel.

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