Have you ever had one of those weeks?
You know, the week where you get Malaria? And then you have to endure forty-eight hours on a taxibus? And then drop your laptop, so that it now has a fun spiderweb-crack on the left side of the screen?
It has been one of those weeks here in Madagascar. But wait, hold on before you RSVP!—I’m not trying to throw a Pity Party. I’m not that great at throwing parties anyway.
Without those weeks, I’m not sure if I would ever learn anything.
A taxibus, for example, is like a patience-incubator. You step inside for the first time full of apprehension, incredulous that this not only legal, but totally normal for the majority of the population. The driver squeezes as many people as humanly possible onto the bus—three on a seat with others standing and sitting in the aisle. You take your seat where there is a foot of space between you and the seat in from of you. There is a hundred pound bag of rice as your feet to take away and chance of leg movement. You place both your bags in your lap and take a deep breathe…of exhaust. Those fumes mingle with a smell somewhat like dying octopus, probably created by the basket of dying octopus under the seat behind you. Once everyone is locked into place, the driver takes off for the twenty-four hour journey down a road that is amazingly similar to Wario’s Stadium from Mario-Kart.
Repeat on the journey home.
As dramatic and horrible as that might sound, I honestly came out the other side having realized that it really wasn’t all that bad. Plus, standing and moving never seemed like blessed gifts until those privileges were so savagely stripped away for two days.
Last week, I also learned first-hand how tragically curable Malaria is. The word Malaria has always seemed ominous (cue dramatic music). However, with access to medicine and early diagnosis, my little spell of Malaria dissipated in just a few days. In its simple form, Malaria is just like the flu. But as preventable (with mosquito nets) and curable as Malaria is, hundreds of thousands still die from it every year. What costs next to nothing for me is, all too often, inaccessible and unaffordable for those living in the countries where the disease is most common. I learned how thankful I need to be for easy medical access, and I also learned how silly it is that Malaria still one of the most common causes of death in Africa. Surely something can be done.
As for my sad, cracked computer, it still works! (although the hard-drive is making sad, frightening, coughing noises upon startup) The horror and emptiness I felt when I heard it crash to the ground revealed the silly, idolatrous value I can place on material things. What immediately went through my mind was, “NOOOOO! How can I possibly live without my computer?!!!” The answer was simple: “You can live just like everyone else here in Madagascar. Perhaps you would learn how happy you can be without all the shiny stuff.” For now though, the shiny computer is still here. It’s just shiny with some scars.