This morning, I find that two bites on my back and bum from yesterday have swelled up alarmingly and one has even developed the tale-tell sign of fly larvae: a large red welt with a black spot in the middle. I show it to all who care to see and everyone seems to agree that there is indeed something growing beneath my skin.
The brother proposes to squeeze them out. I respectfully decline and ask a female doctor (one of the trainers) to do it instead. She applies gentle but constant pressure to the boils. It hurts terribly and all I can mutter is “Jesus, oh God, sweet Mary”. She finishes the deed and swabs the entire area with my antiseptic hand wash (it contains alcohol). I take a look at the cotton swab and see two tiny white grubs squirming lazily. I pull up my underwear, button my jeans and join the rest of the crew for breakfast.
We finally make our exit around 13:00 which, judging from the road conditions in this country, should make us arrive at 21:00 for a 220 kilometers trip. The 8-hour trip is its usually challenge, with two uneven footpaths making up what they call a “road”. I anxiously look at the mechanical dial and note that we tip the 30 degree angle (where the left wheel is higher up than the right) three times. Luckily, we do not need to hoe the road as the conditions are passable.
The the driver spots a small mammal (ciboulette in French) which he almost hits. He shouts in frustration and I learn with that he actually wanted to run it over to bring home to cook. We also stop briefly at his house so he can visit his family. I ask him which of the 15 kids are his. He exclaims “but they are all mine”. I first imagine that he is being all inclusive of his kids and his neighbors but later find out that they are truly all his kids belonging to 3 wives which all live on the same compound.
We finally arrive to the convent in Kole. Our dusty bags (the back door of the car didn’t close properly) are dropped off. Exhausted, I fall asleep in a foam bed, in a room where there’s just enough space to place a single bed, a table and a small dresser. The rooms are subdivided by small walls that do not reach the ceiling and I’m painfully aware that each gurgling sounds from my stomach can be heard by all the sisters and I fall deeper in a fitful sleep.