"The body is the harp of the soul. It is yours to bring forth from it sweet music or confused sounds" Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet me down by the Baobob tree

Hey guys, I got to tour my house last week and visit my new job.  I got to talk with the country director for IRD which stands for International Relief Development, it is an NGO funded by the USDA and will be my full time job while I am here in the Gambia.  My house is wonderful and in a compound with 4 different families of different tribal roots, I am really excited to get to know all of them.

Figured I would put down a few  stories.

1). Well... this was a complete accident, but the Geko has been killed.  Yesterday morning I was heading out the door, and I found the little guy perched inside my door frame.  I got a picture of him, and then he scampered up into the ceiling.  Well I came back that night and found him under one of my bags.  He started scampering through my things and so I figured I would catch him for a geko relocation program. Well after a high speed chase, I had caught him in a small cloth sack.  To my excitement and the geko's ultimate doom, I announced to them that I had caught a geko as I left my room. Everyone stood up and looked at me horrified as if I had the plague. My host mom was saying things like "Uunkaa baahute" which is gekos are bad.  Before I knew what to do a visiting family friend had run and got a stick and everyone was telling me to drop the geko... He tried to make an escape but was clubbed.  I feel particularly bad because I liked the little guy and was trying to explain I didn't what him to get hurt when I let him go.  The family friend I think was intent on killing him no matter what I said. This is sad, but as of tonight I can say there is another one in my ceiling
2.) The children are quite persistent about their minty.  I have been told after asking countless people that this is because toubobs from the local eco lodge would buy packs of mintys (candy) and then throw them out to the kids for fun when they came.  And to our utter horror two days ago a Mercedes with some tourists inside drove through the village and about midway through stopped after being malled by children.  Sure enough, all the children returned with candy.  Even the kids in my family here the word "tuobob" and go running to the car in question. 
The result is every child in the village thinks we have mintys.  I have elaborate conversations with kids. 

"No I do not have minty" 
child’s response: "MINTY" 
"Give me your minty and we will share" 
response: "Tuobob Minty" 
Finally I say, "Your face is dirty go bathe (all in wolof)" 
response in more of a sad questioning tone "Minty?" 

 Really though, an army of children screaming "Minty" is never fun.  Me and Blaine looked at each other the other day as kids were banging on the corrugated sheet metal fence behind which we were having class and made dawn of the dead references "Brains... minty...brains"
3) Finally, the 1000 things you have experience to believe in the Gambia

A list which I may never finish but will give a little extra details about things I have encountered here.  I will try to do 20 at a time

20. Having a peace corps session dedicated to the proper way to use a pit latrine, complete with practicing form.
19. Watching a sengalese man herd cows with a flute
18. Reading every book you have by candlelight and then wanting to read more
17. Waking up every morning with the sun. 
16. Sitting and enjoying attaya with elders of the village.
15.Attempting to make meaningful communication with them despite the fact
they know about 7 different tribal languages among them and you know barely half of one
13. Almost getting kicked by a donkey
12. Cigarettes cost 50 cents a pack and are too expensive for most people to indulge in
11. The primary ingredient to all bug killers is DDT
10. The ability to eat with your hand from a single bowl that everyone else is eating out of.
9. Fetching water from an old fashion rope and pulley 
8. I do not have a minty
7. Using full buckets of water from the well behind your house to work out with.
6. Seeing small child chasing after a baboon with a machete.
5. Reoccurring fire ant infestations on in and around your pit latrine
4. Ants that bite like small wasps
3. Getting a beautiful custom tailored collared button up shirt made for $2.75
2. Barging for 45 minutes about the cost of 4 meters of fabric and have the amount bargained over be roughly 85 cents (but as my friend Shawn would say "That is like 6 bean sandwiches"). 
1. Baby, baby, baby, ohhh... No matter where you go, you just can't get away from Justin Beilber.  He finds you on the radio.  Worst of all it is in the form of commercial karaoke jingles.  Africell (a prominent cell phone company in Africa) has taken the song and put “Africell loves you, Africell cares call 0-0-0-1 oh, 0-0-0-1…” over the chorus. Never thought I would miss copy write laws.

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