Apr 27, 2009

April Days

Marche day in Pobe

Updates from Pobe: its hot hot HOT!
During the day, especially during the repos, everyone just sits or lays outside in the shade to talk or sleep. The inside of my home, which I still find cooler in the midday than outside, transforms into a sauna. Just sitting in my chair, sweat pours off me. Teaching in the hot crowded classrooms is a nightmare. Much more sweating occurs. In mid-April Pobe received its first rain all year….wonderful, cool, hard rain. I was so ecstatic. “So this means the rainy season has come early?” I ask. The response: laughter. “No no. The rainy season wont start for another two months. This is just a small rain to tease us. It only means the hot season is just beginning.” Damn!
A highlight of the month and definitely a first for me was…a luch date with missionaries! Steve and his wife Charlie are absolutely wonderful, kind and generous people, both from England. Steve has been living in Djibo for about 9 years and speaks fluent Fulfulde! The lunch was delicious: green beans, a meat Shepard’s pie, and a mango tart/pastry for dessert. I have to say that in my ignorance, I was quite surprised. I imagined all missionaries to be an old, conservative, non-humorous bunch who speak only of loving God 24-7. This was not the case. Asides from a short prayer before eating, there was no mention of God. In fact I was the one asking them all the God questions, wanting to know more about the life of a missionary and what their day to day life is like here. The whole afternoon was fun and interesting.
At times I complain about the slow pace of life here and that boredom often creeps up on me. While this remains true, there is always some occurrence that will end the dullness of the day. Example? It was evening and I had just returned from school to find Sita, Hamidou and a neighbor grilling something over charcoal. They had two small little grills going. On one grill: a chicken. Normal. On the second: the testicles of a sheep. Not so normal. As well as the entire head of the sheep. Just plain gross. Of course, I arrived “right on time for dinner” and was invited to feast on these West African delicacies. While, luckily, the sheep’s head wasn’t quite ready, I can now add sheep testicles to my food repertoire. I won’t go so far as to say it was bad, but it definitely wasn’t good, although just the fact that I KNEW I was eating testicles ruined the taste quite a bit.
Another new discovery I made in Pobe: a cine club! Using solar panels, a few functionaries, like my homologue, have old televisions in their house. Ive been over while the family watches some popular Spanish soap opera dubbed in French. The image on the black and white TV is so bad that its impossible to see anything and with the awful sound system, even harder to hear. I heard months ago there was a cine club in Pobe but never though it was worth it. How wrong I was. A man has set up a small cinema style seating area in his courtyard. Using a gas powered motor he connects his decent sized color tv up, and pops a film into a DVD player! The image and sound is like any normal tv! The only problem is that the only dvds are all horrible, Chinese action Kung fu movies dating from the 70s. Not exactly my style of movie.
Amy and I at the Hard Corps party
In mid April the Hard Corps Party was also held in Djibo. The party was run by volunteers in the north who invite volunteers from other areas to come visit and see the hot, dry, desert north. Although, its really just an excuse for a party. The night was full of good food, drink and music with about 30 volunteers from around the area.
Finally, I leave you with yet another funny cross cultural exchange experience involving myself and of course the much beloved Hamidou. Hamidou and I frequently play dominos in the courtyard and on this particular day we had just settled down to begin playing. Immediately I noticed something particular that made me freeze in shock. Before I say what it is, let me briefly describe Hamidou. Hes a man in his early 40s. Hes slim but extremely fit and muscular, with muscles most men in their early 20s spend hours at the gym for. Hamidou is also an extremely honest and hardworking man. His large hands are rough like sandpaper and calloused after years and years of working and cultivating in the fields. So you can understand my surprise when I see the nail on his pinky finger painted with bright red nail polish. When I say bright red I mean like the kind of red you would see a hooker wear walking down the street. It was so red that if he were in a city, cars would have screeched to a stop after he lifted his finger to scratch his head. Not the kind of thing I could ignore.
“Hamidou, pourquoi tu as ca?” (Why do you have that ?)
“Bon. J ai vu ca et j ai trouve que ca sentais bon donc j'ai decide de le metre!” (I saw it and I thought it smelled good so I put it on)
Fair enough, but I tried so hard not to laugh. And playing dominos with this fit, muscular man, head resting on hand, his forhead wrinkled as he contemplated his next move, his hooker-red fingernail staring me straight in the eye, it was just too hard to take him seriously.

Laundry day (the little doll is part of a Flat Stanley project from an elementary school in Oakland where students are learning geography)