Sunday, August 20, 2006

Africa: Day 43

I compose this to you now from the corner office in the apartment at ten minutes to two in the morning on Sunday. As of late, my nightly ritual has been to awaken sometime throughout the night from either headache, toothache, heat, or just plain restlessness. I usually spend ten to fifteen minutes roaming aimlessly throughout out the solemn marble walls, listening to the sounds of the city interspersed with the shuffling sounds my ambling feet make while I lazily meander through the house in search of... something. Either active distraction from slumber, or direct return to it would be sufficient, but neither seems to be readily available here lately.

I'm hungry most all the time at night now. I've dropped from a 205 pound with a 34 inch waist to a 165 pound waif barely sustaining a 30 inch waist. I'm quite sure, somewhere, one of you women is saying how wonderful that would be, but you truly have no idea how miserable it is to lose almost 20 percent of your body mass, and healthy body mass at that. I don't seem to be suffering any visible side effects, aside from the constant hunger, but I can't figure what's causing it. I'm eating as often as possible and when I do dine, it's usually one and a half what the others eat, yet I'm losing weight faster than I fear is healthy. Not to worry though. I'll be home again in a few months and I'll be stocking up. The good side is, I'll never be so happy to see a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham as I will be this year.

I miss all of you. If my memory serves me right, I haven't told you all that lately, but it remains true nonetheless. I try not to be one to reiterate things that I don't feel bear repeating, but I'm of the impression that most of you are less than perfect mind-readers, so I'll say it again here. I miss my gang of friends, my family, my environment. I've hit the point in this trip where I'm beyond ready for things to come to a close and let me return home to my familiar surroundings, but I fear that time has yet to come. Even now, one of my crew returns home tonight to his family while four more make preparations to return here to join me in the coming weeks. After their arrival I'm expecting another three to four weeks of hard work before I can even begin to attempt to make plans to come home. This time however, I plan to be home for awhile. I make a decent salary, but not enough, not NEARLY enough, to compensate for the amount of time I've been asked to spend away  from my life. Having experienced this first hand, I can assure you, that there is NO monetary value that would make me volunteer to be away from you all this long again.

I'm not sure what else to say. I find that the more I write lately, the more I delve deeper into this morose and somber frame of mind. It's hard to be exuberant when everything you want to be surrounded by is five thousand miles away. With that in mind, I think I'll head back to bed and stare at the ceiling some more. Maybe my audiobook will help me get some sleep. I'll talk to you all again soon.

Until then.


  1. TJ- it really saddens me to read this blog. You know I worry about all the time anyway - I'M MOM! That's part of my job. I also pray for you (and your crew) every day. But I am going to start praying harder. They tell me it's a sin to worry; so I guess I am committing a big one now. I want to write a "MOM" letter to the head of your organization and tell him he has to take of his people if he wants them to be happy and to perform efficiently for him. But, I realize you are almost 30 and that isn't my job any more. I know you are perfectly able to take care of yourself and do a pretty good job of it. Just know that people at your church are praying for you. You are brought up at every prayer meeting and not always by me. Take care of yourself; try to not get too down (that will hurt you physically too) and remember I love you. Mom

  2. Hey Mom! Thanks for the support from back home. You know how it always seems to wind up with me and my teams: it's never the "other guy" looking for us. It's usually me trying to look out for the team. Except for Bill... he was always the exception there, but then again he always knew how to maintain a valuable commmodity.. lol.

    And did you HAVE to throw in that 'almost 30' reference? Geeze man.. now i'm Hungry AND worrying about my age.

    It's not "that" bad over here.. it's just that the people over my head think we should make attempts to become Libyan, to fit in with the locals. They don't have the first foggy idea what we put up with for a living because none of them tromp through the sand wearing 30 pounds of tools in 120 degree heat all day.

    From a healthy point of view, we don't need to come over here and try to change our diets to adjust to the local cuisine. We are NOT libyan and our systems can't handle it for long periods of time. What we DO need is simply to afford to eat like hungry americans every day. Yes, it costs more. Suck it up!

    The few people that HAVE tried to soak up the local dietary culture have learned to regret it. I warned both of them, but what do I know? One got hospitalized from internal bleeding and one has been sick now for about 5 days.

    Me? Aside from being hungry, I'm fine. I eat steak about three times per week, cart loads of pasta, and all the carbs I can take... The bad times is at lunch when we're at work and have to eat the crap they eat here or else subsist on snickers bars and pringles. (God I love pringles, but if I ever see another can after I return home, I'm gonna go postal!).

    Quite frankly, we all just need more money to get by on. We're honestly burning 60 dollars a day (libyan) every day just to eat... EACH. Dinner is 30 bucks almost every time when you consider that the drinks are 3 dollars each and the meal is around 30. Lunch is around 10-15, breakfast too. Aside from that, it leaves very little money to live on.

    Anyway, I keep swearing that I'm not going to go off on some money-rant while I'm here, but I keep veering that way in my posts. Maybe I just need to let that side out one day and just get it off my chest. Meanwhile, thank the church for me, relax a little, and know that I'm ok. You know I'll take care of my guys (and girls). You raised me better than that. I won't let anything happen to them... unless another one of them get sick and doesn't tell ANYONE for a month and then has to go to the hospital for it... ummm.... I hope he reads that! lol.

    Love you.



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