Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What do ya wanna know?

I apologize to all of my avid reader/fans… (that was sarcastic) that I haven’t updated much lately on here. But I gotta be honest. I can’t think of a whole lot that’s happened recently that I though might be of any interest to any of you. We’ve been doing a lot of the same stuff lately and been busy finally getting into the work we came here to do. Which has been really exciting, but you hear about that in my updates, so… If you have any suggestions on ideas of things to post—questions you’ve had or were just wondering about something, then let me know. I would love to tell you more about life in Africa. But you gotta let me know.

Some random pics from our lives in the village...

our local 'market'---a couple of ladies with a few tables out in front of their compounds

the boys and the Imam (Muslim religious leader) holding down and killing the goat for our holiday feast

a 'futbol' game in our village

my little buddy, our sister's youngest son

our living room floor covered with all of the goodies that Mom and Dad and Reaiah's parents brought us from home (and from some of you) when they came

Entertainment in the village… the bush rat hunt.

Oh, you’re jealous… I know.

You know sometimes living in the village is so amusingly like growing up in the country in Texas that it makes me laugh. Small town folks are just small town folks, no matter the continent, the country, or the culture. And boys are just boys. Out here, most of our days are pretty much the same, so even the smallest variation can be very entertaining. Lately our compound (and the one connected to it) has been having a problem with bush rats getting into the rice huts (the storage huts) and stealing the food. Due to process of elimination or simply because they wanted to, it fell to the boys (teenaged through mid-twenties) to hunt them down. The report was given that one of the boys had seen at least four bushrats underneath the rice hut all at one time. So an iron snaptrap was set up underneath the hut and the other semi-holes were blocked so that the rats would have to run across it to get out. When that didn't really work, and after me and Reaiah encouraged them to used some sort of bait on the trap, they decided to put some ever-available peanuts on the trap. But after hearing the sounds of one of them escaping around the corner, one of the boys came back and told us that the sneaky little things somehow saw (and recognized) the trap and jumped over it. Then I listened to all these boys commenting for the rest of the night on how smart these bushrats are. So then it was decided that the trap would need to be hidden under something so that the bushrat wouldn't recognize it. It was covered with a black plastic bag and some dirt. And we waited again. The next night the trap was triggered but it snapped off the little bushrats foot and he escaped three-footed. Again a round of comments on the tricky things, running off and leaving his foot behind. But they all agreed that one had probably learned his lesson, and would NOT be returning to steal rice. A few nights later we finally heard the trap tripped and after our little bunch ran around the corner, we found a bushrat the size of medium sized cat struggling to stay alive. It turned out to be the largest of the bushrats that we have caught yet, and it was pregnant. It took late into the night for these boys to run around and rummage up all the stuff they needed to skin and grill up our little friend for a late night snack. Much to the excitement of the guys. The next night we caught another one, roasted it on the fire and chowed down again. I think the count is now up to six bushrats that they've caught. The last attempt at a stake out was the other night. I had gone with a friend to visit some other women late one night only to get back to the compound to find the boys tearing through our pile of firewood with the machetes and hoes to reach a bushrat hole discovered underneath it. Several others stood around the edges with large sticks or hoes ready to swing in case the thing came running their way... Of course their digging and hopping around excitedly only managed to eventually scare the thing out of its hole and several of the younger boys tore after it around in the dump/field next to our compound as though they might be fast enough to actually catch it and kill it. No luck that night, but I laughed pretty hard.

Happy New Years!

Imagine Halloween, Christmas, and New Years (African style, of course) all rolled into one and you might have something close to what we just experienced here. Just before the actual New Year there is a certain holiday here that our people celebrate that is supposed to be a celebration of the New Year (by the lunar calendar maybe?). For two to three days everyone takes off from their normal work (other than to cook enormous amounts of food, of course), gets dressed up in their new fancy clothes and gets their hair all braided (the girls, not the boys) and spends hours of the day just walking around visiting friends and family and neighbors, greeting them and blessing them for the new year. In our compound (and the one joined to ours) we watched three rams be killed and served up for the celebration. That’s a lot of stinkin meat if you didn’t know… The children and the village musicians (known as griots) walk around singing this little ditty full of blessings and dancing (the griots play drums and a guitar as well) so that those being blessed will give them money. The kids then get to spend their earnings at the corner shop buying a small loaf of bread that’s all for them or some other little snack they can find made on the street. Since our village has the REAL griots in it, there are people from all over who come to spend the holiday there. And for several nights in a row we could here the music blaring from a few compounds over as the young people danced late into the night. We even had a team from the capital come out and play our guys in soccer for two days. It was the first sports event I’ve been able to watch for any of our holidays so far, so even being soccer and not football or basketball, I was still grateful. Our team won. Most people are in an unusually chipper mood as they all get excited about the holiday and possibly seeing relatives from out of town as well as getting to show off their new snazzy outfits. With the cold days we’re having now it almost made it feel like winter/Christmas time back home… almost.
But its still been a good time for us. It’s been the first big event/holiday that we were able to spend with our family in the village, which was special for us and for them. And one of our ‘cousins’ who speaks a little English even wished me a ‘Happy New Year’ the other day. It was the perfect thing for him to say, and it really made my day, which amazingly enough, happened to BE New Year’s.

(I am aware that this is a little late being posted... remember I don't have the best internet here. Bear with me, k!)