Multiple months ago (I won’t share how many since it would be very embarrassing how long it has taken me to write this blog), my old teammate Evie and I went to a village about an hour and a half walk east-ish from Doro. The original plan was for me to leave work a little early around 2 or 3 so we could start walking with a group of pastors from the village soon after that. After a busy day and an unexpected meeting that I needed to attend, we started walking around 430pm. We walked with one pastor to the market to meet the others, just as thunder and rain started. The closest shelter was a little restaurant with a tarp ceiling and walls and we quickly ducked in as the rain came pounding down.
About 45 minutes later, the rain let up a bit and the pastors took of their shoes and socks, rolled up their pant legs, and asked us if we were ready to go. Off we walked out of the market into thick cotton-like mud. About 100 yards and 15 minutes later it was very apparent that wearing our sandals was not optimum for walking with any type of speed. As we stopped to take off our sandals with 2-3 inches of mud stuck to the bottoms making them look more like moon shoes than sandals, we were also asked to hand over our backpacks. We knew better than to argue, and over they were handed to a young woman with a baby only a few months old strapped to her back. She quickly bundled up 3 backpacks in a cloth and put them on her head before gracefully taking a large lead ahead of us. As we walked, I had to turn the medical side of my brain off as I stepped in thick mud full of sharp thorns and who knows what else.
Another few hundred yards ahead the rain started again. As we neared an open field that is normally a 15 minute walk from my house the rain began to pour. Then it began coming at us in a pelting sideways fashion that actually was kind of painful. I think this is what some would call “raining cats and dogs” as I felt like I was being hit with something as I walked. But on we traveled, with no large trees to shield us from the rain and really no time to waste before dark. After we reached the edge of the field with multiple slips and slides and almost face plants in the mud, we needed to go up an incline. I went after I watched the pastors do it ever so gracefully, with Evie behind me. I made it a good 2/3 of the way up before losing momentum and starting to slide back down, into my friend. Thankfully, as I came towards her she gave her best cheerleader move pushing me back up until I was able to reach the top. Then I see a group of local women in hysterical laughter after watching the khawaaja (white person) attempt to climb this hill barefoot. Just to get to the edge of “town” had taken us (in my head at least, well over an hour).
But onward we went, chasing the daylight. We were able to keep a decent pace after we got out of town and to areas where the rain had not come. As we walked, our group grew a little as people also walking to Thomaji were coming home from work behind us and were quickly able to catch up to our pace. At one point there was a snake in the path and I was thankful to be with men who quickly killed it. Soon after that I think I decided it was a good time to put my sandals back on (not that they would actually help me win a battle against a snake)! Later we cross the river, that was low since it was early in the rainy season. By the time we reached Thomaji, it was about 730pm. The 1 1/2 hour walk had turned into a little over 2 hours. But, we made it! After the adventurous trek I had a new perspective and respect for those who: 1) walk to the nearest market frequently that is 1 1/2 hours away, 2) walk to the nearest clinic (our SIM clinic in Doro) 1 1/2 hours away–sometimes having to cross the river when it is high with/usually carrying their sick children and 3) the peace and blessing of living in a small village.
We had a lovely few days with Pastor Daniel and his wife Mariam, seeing the local school where the classes are held under big trees, spending time with the church community, and just enjoying life away from “town.” Hope this helped you get a good mental picture and some laughs; below are some photos.