A road of red dirt, dotted by deep holes, as wide as the road, as long as a car, and deep – filled with water. Are these little lakes deep enough for fish? I don’t ask this silly question, but it does cross my mind as the truck crosses yet another puddle, with the driver declaring in broken English ”that was a piece of cake”. As laughter escapes my mouth, I wonder if I’ve heard correctly. Before the question is spoken, Rachel tells me that Edison, our fearless driver, learned this phrase from other visitors. I smile. My smile meets the fish question and it settles while my body continues to bounce.
I listen to the Lingala flowing around me, picking out now-familiar works and making up the rest of the conversation in my head. Lingala is a trade language and is not a rich language, at that. It would not be hard to learn this language, I decide silently, and I try to memorize words as I hear them. Two hours pass quickly and I look up to see that we’ve arrived in Bwamongo. Here, we are visiting the pharmacy where we get the medicine we donate to the clinics of the Tandala Health Zone (16 of them) and the Tandala Hospital. I have been brought here by Rachel, Tony, Dr. Bienvenneu, and Edison.
Since French is easier for me to understand, we conduct our business in that language, visiting the warehouse and making some small purchases for some doctors and the dentist at the hospital, who made requests when they knew we were coming here. Soon, our business is over and we climb back into the back of the truck. We settle our sore bums for another couple of hours of riding as we make it back to the hospital and I settle my brain to do some more listening and thinking. My friends sing in the truck – lilting voices combining to make a gorgeous sound. At least four parts in each song and is it simply amazing.