As I sit down to write this article I find myself not knowing whether I should apologize for how long it has been since the last time I posted on this blog or whether to take the very reasons why I haven’t blogged in so long and create a blog post out of that!?
The truth is, for the last several weeks we have been living in a very remote village which really limits any contact we have with the “outside world” – and trying to maintain an online blog while not even having an internet connection most of the time is very challenging indeed!
But then, the whole purpose for this blog is to portray what real life is like for us out here and this is just a part of that.
I find it very difficult at times to really portray an accurate image of what it is like to live in a “remote village” or to even describe what we mean by “remote”. It is especially difficult to explain to people living in developed countries who don’t really have anything to compare to it. But just think again at the imagery that comes to mind when we talk about the Pioneers and their “going out west” to untamed territories and you may get a better idea of what “remote” means to us.
The village where we have been based the last few weeks (and even the last few years) is not as remote as other villages we could name. There are other villages not too far from us which have no roads or any way for a vehicle to access it. Even to take a motorcycle is a challenge due to steep mountain trails or rivers that have no bridges (which means you have to get off and carry the motorcycle across the river).
So compared to these other villages we aren’t as remote as we could be, which we are thankful for. But as things go, we are pretty remote, especially when you compare our location to the towns and cities or to other developed countries.
So what do I mean when I say we live in a remote village? Well . . .
* The nearest international airport is anywhere from 16-22 hours away (depending on the condition of the roads)
* During the months of July and August (when the rains are the heaviest) the road leading to the village is almost impassable with vehicles getting stuck in the mud and trucks tipping over and blocking the road.
* Most of the people living in the village are still living in mud brick huts with grass roofs, though there are getting to be more houses that have cement overlaying the mud bricks and tin roofs instead of grass.
* There is no running water. During the rainy season we collect rain water. When there isn’t enough rain, we carry water from the community well. Near the end of dry season when the well dries up we fetch water from the stream.
* Our source of electricity comes from solar panels. During the day the solar panels charge a 12 volt car battery that we use for charging computers and electronics. All our lights are solar lights as well, which we have to set out to charge every morning if we want to have lights in the evenings. Otherwise, there’s always candles and kerosene lamps if you forget to charge the solar lights.
* The nearest hospital is 3-4 hours away.
* If you want a hamburger you would have to travel the 16-22 hours to the capitol city to find one (no, there are none closer than that unless you get a meat grinder and make it yourself, but even then you would have to travel the same distance to buy a meat grinder!).
* Ice cream? Also 16-22 hours away!
* If you want to “eat out” the nearest restaurant is about 3-4 hours away . . . but if you want a restaurant that has more than just two options on their menu you will need to travel about 6-8 hours to find one.
* The nearest hotel is about 6 hours away, though I hear they are currently working at building a guesthouse in a town about 2 hours from here.
* Most of the people in this country do not even know that our village exists (you won’t find it on the map) . . . and those who do know the location of this village only really know it as “the place in the road where the pavement ends”.
* We get a very poor internet connection and very inconsistent cell phone service. The internet only works on very clear days and even that isn’t a guarantee. Only ONE person in the village can use the internet at a time otherwise it doesn’t work for anyone. Even when there is an internet connection it is still VERY slow and can usually only load the words and text on a webpage and not any graphics. But even to load the text can be a challenge most days. You can try for 20 minutes (having to refresh the page at least 8-10 times) just to get the “login” screen for Gmail to load, and another 20 minutes (with another 8-10 page refresh attempts) to actually get into the email inbox. And if you’re going to send an email you have to be sure to copy the text before you hit “send”, just in case you lose the connection while it’s trying to send (which happens ALL the time).
So you see, there have been times when I have wanted to post things on this blog but just have not been able to because of the internet not working well enough. At times I think it was silly that I even started a blog, considering how difficult it is to get online and manage it at all, but that is all about to change!
We have been working in this village for several years now. My husband actually grew up here, so he has much of his life’s ministry invested here. But more recently we have felt God leading us to move to another location, so as of next week we will be relocating to a small city.
This move will certainly be a change for us in a lot of ways!
For one thing, we will be in more of a community with other believers (both nationals and expats!). We will be within walking distance of a good hospital. Our new house will actually have running water and electricity most of the time. We will be within 10 minutes of a restaurant (the two menu options being beef or fish served with either plantains or french fries). And, last but not least, we should have a better (faster and more consistent) internet connection.
Of course, it will be even further from the ice-cream (meaning we would have to travel 19-25 hours if we want ice cream or hamburgers) but that’s a small price to pay for the other benefits we’ll be gaining.
So, while it hasn’t been very sensible trying to keep a blog while living here in a remote village, I should be able to write more frequently once we’ve moved . . . and should be able to share a lot more pictures too!
Until then, here are a few pictures that I was able to upload (not without its challenges) that help to show a little of our village life . . .
The picture above shows one of the “better” sections of our road during the rainy season.
The pictures below show the “not so good” sections of the road. . . .
Here’s an example of wood bridges that are pretty common in our village . . .
And here’s a good view of our village taken from the top of a mountain . . .
Our neighbor’s house (which is what about 1/3 of the houses in the village look like) . . .
Our house is the very last house at the edge of the village . . .
Here’s a view of the inside . . . the living room, dinning room, and kitchen area . . .
A shop in a nearby village (where we buy much of our groceries or household items) . . .
A fruit stand where we can buy bananas pretty much year-round . . .
The village gas station! . . . Don’t see it? . . . The gas is sold in the small oil bottles that are set up on the stand (you would be hard pressed to find a gas pump anywhere near our village) . . .
Playing with the village kids . . . Keturah always seems to be the center of attention . . .