Field Notes

Ngatt Newsletter: April, May, and not much of June

Maybe you noticed the two month hiatus I took from blogging recently? Or maybe not. Regardless, this is a brief list of recent-ish events in village.

  1. Dry season is over (FINALLY) and now that the rainy season is back:
    •  I no longer have to go to the pump for water. (Although it is a nice arm workout–try carrying two 10L buckets of water at a dead hang for 100 m–drawing water from the well or catching it from the sky is much easier.)
    • Mangoes are everywhere! Unsure as to why I didn’t take advantage of this last year, but this year I eat at least six a day. “Get’em before they’re gone” is my new philosophy towards the fruit.
    • Everyone is back in the fields, which of course means work has once again slowed down.
  2. Petite Jess turned one on April 14th! In order to celebrate, I bought her first pair of shoes. They were a bit big so when we put them on her she refused to move, as though glued or weighted down by the shoes.
  3. Ngatt has started receiving handouts from a refugee program. People are stoked. (Click here for more.)
  4. Ngatt celebrated an extremely belated Christmas when packages from some church group in the United States arrived for all the girls and boys. Unsure how or why, but it has been amusing to go around village and explain different objects to people. (I guess lip gloss, glow sticks and Happy Meal toys are pretty strange if you did not grow up with them. But then again, I was called a genius for explaining the game of Trouble to our village pastor, so maybe I am just really brilliant.)
    • My favorite object though, has been the Legos received by my friend’s five year-old, Ollie. He was absolutely ecstatic when I put together the Legos he received into a car (up-ing his total car count to 4). Since the initial time, I have had to rebuild it at least once every week because he wants it to be exactly the like the picture is and he doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.
    • I also have been trying to teach chess to my friend and her family, but so far it has been difficult for them to remember the allowed moves, so much of the game is reiterating the rules. Slow slow catch monkey.
  5. Eleven kids finished memorizing the Quran, which in a village of 2000 is a huge deal. To celebrate, we all ran around to each of their houses singing and dancing and eating rice and praying with the imans. In the words of a friend I told afterwards: “[I] just ran a 5k for Islam.”
  6. Scorpion season. (See more here.)
  7. Lastly, Ramadan begun. Mostly it means people are just chilling during the day, lots of 3 AM drumming (so you don’t miss waking up and eating before the sun rises) and lots of gari (bouillie) with my family.


Field Notes, Tomfoolery

Where There is No Doctor pt. III: Yarre Toofi-am

One night going to lock up (and having lived in my house for over a year), I decided to not bring my torch.


No torch.

Suddenly…ALL THE PAIN. It was as though the world’s biggest ant bit me. But, it couldn’t be that since the pain continued…


Image of me in pain.

Hopping back to my bedroom, I grabbed my torch and came back to discover…



Quickly, I grabbed my shoe and killed it. Grabbing my handy dandy Where There’s No Doctor, I hopped back to my room, where I consulted the book.

Upon learning that I wasn’t going to die, I then withered in pain for several hours until the pain subsided enough for me to sleep.


Waiting for pain to subside on a moonless night.

Long story short, I survived and learned a few fun facts about scorpions:

  1. I do not recommend being stung by one. Very painful.
  2. After the pain subsided, it will feel numb for at least a day.
  3. Scorpion in Fulfuldé is yarre. A useful word that I eventually learned after someone took pity on me trying to act out a scorpion with my pinky multiple times and taught me it.
  4. Fulani people find scorpion stings to be very painful. Upon hearing about it, my friend’s mom’s reaction was, “now she knows pain,” which says a lot coming from women who don’t wince during childbirth.