Project Phongsali: In remote villages, for weeks or even months at a time, our tent is our “home from home”.

April 10, 2010

Sop Houn village has no hotel or guest house so our team brought our own shelter, a large army tent. To be safe the team searched the entire area around our campsite to make certain the grounds were free of UXO.

Day 68

It turned cool today, which is just fine with me since recent nights have been uncomfortably warm and humid. With no electricity to power a fan and a Noah’s ark of creeping, crawling and flying critters chasing me to the stifling safety of my mosy net, I’ve had trouble getting a good night’s sleep.  I toss and turn, toss and turn, toss and turn, and then wake in the morning wondering if I was ever truly asleep.

In addition, today it looks as if it just might rain.  Actually, “feels like rain” is perhaps a more accurate description than “looks like rain”.  With so many farmers burning their fields in anticipation of planting when the rains come, the air around us has been a constant haze.  Ever since the burning season began, every day has “looked like rain” to my Wisconsin eyes but we’ve remained bone dry.

Come to think of it we did have one night of rain, a month ago.  It wasn’t much, just a few hours of lazy drizzle that hardly cut the dust.  It did briefly discomfort a couple of our guys who had unknowingly pitched their bedrolls beneath holes in the tent roof.  In the middle of that wet night they had to grab their bedding and retreat to a dry spot under the hospital eves.

The next morning, when I suggested that we solve the problem by hauling out and installing the tarp that we brought from Vientiane for just that purpose, the guys looked quizzically at me, communicating, “What problem?”  Clearly they saw no benefit commensurate with the work that the modification would require.

“Why bother?” the medic asked.  “It’s stopped raining”.

That was a month ago.   If the sky opens today and we get wet again, my hunch is the guys will simply move under the eves again and still not want to bother with the tarp.  We are, of course, just a few days from pulling up stakes here and heading for Vientiane.

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