Provence was great.  We had a blast with Sari’s Aunt Gretl, got to lie on some of the best beach in the world (complete with topless women!  Okay, don’t tell Deb I said that.  Besides, there were ugly guys in Speedos so it sort of balanced it out).  Aunt Gretl (that’s what she said to call her, so we did) is an amazing cook.  Deb and me both pigged out.  I’d lost 41 pounds, according to Deb.  I think I gained it all back and then some at Aunt Gretl’s, seeing as we didn’t do much but eat and sleep.  It was killer awesome.  After about two weeks of that kind of treatment, I felt real good.

And then it was time to leave for Bangladesh.  Aunt Gretl had done some digs there before it was Bangladesh.  We asked her what it was like there.  She said, you need lots of sunblock and insect repellent and don’t drink the water unless you boil it.

Great.  I’m going from Paradise to the seventh circle of hell, I was thinking.

I was wrong.  It was more like the ninth circle.  I think it went that high in the story.  Okay, so it was like high school when I read Dante’s Inferno, and I don’t have Byers around to give me the Cliffs Notes version.

So we leave this wonderful place with great food and glorious blue water and comfy beds and end  We started out in Dakha, which makes DC look civilized, and that’s pretty hard to do.  We couldn’t leave for two weeks because you can’t just move around in Bangladesh, you got to get travel permits.  Muladharma may have had a lot of pull in getting us here, but we still gotta do the drill like anyone else coming here.

So we spent some time in Dakha being touristas.  Got a lot of cheap clothes, stocked up on beer, ate some food that made me throw up. Muladharma put us up in one of Dakha’s better hotels.  I’d hate to see what the dives look like.  While I was there, I got a laptop (which was a bitch to get and cost me more than Deb was happy with).

“Ringo, I was told we only have a generator for power, and we have to get kerosene for it.”

“Look, it’s like American Express.  I don’t leave home without it.”

She isn’t real happy.  I can tell.  I think she’s wondering what the hell she got herself into.  And it’s all because of me that she’s stuck here.  So I feel like shit on top of already feeling like shit.  The weather’s hot and sticky and the mosquitoes are the size of 747s and need their own landing strips.

And that was before we got to the village Deb was assigned to.  The village is 170 kilometers of kidney-killing, mostly unpaved road that we got driven out on by some German doctor who’s the rep in BD for DWB.  (Sorry, you do computers, you get used to writing lots of acronyms).  He puts us in this ancient Jeep and is telling us about the place we’re headed for.

I wasn’t feeling good from being carsick.  I keep thinking, soon as we get there, I’ll feel better.  Wrong!

We’re in this village with a name I can’t pronounce, way out in the middle of the fucking jungle.  It’s been raining and it seems like the place is half under water.  It smells like sewage and there’re all these weird noises.

“Don’t worry,”  the German doctor, whose name was something like Kreinfeldt, I really don’t remember, “the clinic is also the best house in the village.”

All the houses are up on plinths so they don’t get flooded, I guess.  He shows us where Deb’s gonna have her clinic and where we’re gonna live.  It’s bigger and looks sturdier than most of the other houses we see, which seem like they’re gonna collapse if someone sneezes on them.  That was the good news.

“You have electricity,” he says, and I breathe a little easier, until I scope the place out.

“Like, where’re the outlets?”  I ask him.

“In the clinic.”

Great.  Where’m I supposed to set up?  It didn’t occur to me to buy extension cords.  We’ve got a permit to travel to Dakha once a week.  Not that I’m eager to go overland again, but I start making my list mentally of stuff I’ll need.  Besides, after being here, Dakha might start looking real good.

No TV.  A wireless 2-way radio.  Wonder how often it works, assuming we get any transmission at all.  Have to check that out.  I gotta figure out a lot of things if we’re gonna make this place halfway livable.

“What about water?”  Deborah asks.

“One sink,”  and it’s in the clinic.  I turn on the faucet.  I get like this trickle of really rusty looking water.  I’m scared to think how many bugs are in it.  “There’s a latrine out back.  And a shower’s been somewhat put together.”

We get the whole ten-cent tour, and it’s not even worth that. The pharmacy’s got some supplies but man, I think our medicine cabinet at the HQ was better stocked.  Deb is now looking greener than I am.

“Uh...I’m really low on supplies,” she tells Kreinfeldt or whatever his name happens to be.

“They’re on order.  They should come into Dakha within the next couple of weeks.  You’ll have to pick them up, of course.”

“Well, we’d better hope nobody gets sick till then,”  she says, more than a little bit sarcastically.

He gives us some basic instructions--like don’t pat kids on the head, be prepared to get stared at a lot, boil the water, use the mosquito nets, etc. etc.  Nothing like, where can you get a portable CD player.

He does give Deb a satellite phone but she’s told she can’t use it much, it’s real expensive to make calls, it’s really only for stuff that she can’t handle.

“There’s beer,” he says, shrugging.

Okay, well, that’s a start.

He takes off, says to make sure she talks to the person who’s the regional director when she’s in Dakha, and wishes us good luck, which we will definitely need.  That, and a whole lot of duct tape.

I’m about to ask Deb what she thinks, which it turns out was good I didn’t, because after he’s gone, she sinks down to the floor and starts crying.  All I can do is hug her and tell her it’s gonna be okay, I’ll fix the place up.  Damn.  I should’ve watched the Home Channel when I had the chance.

Frohike could do this.  He’s the man at home improvement.

And the fucking bastard isn’t even around.

Gotta find a way to hook up with him.  ASAP.

Go To Chapter 3