Saturday, December 18, 2010

How time is Spent

What in the world is coming towards me?  I try to focus my eyes, but still can’t make it out. As the man comes closer I see, ah yes, this is interesting, he has a wooden crate full of about 30 chirping chicks on his head.  I don’t know if I’d feel safe with that on my head, especially if I’d just washed my hair, but he’s got a shaved head so maybe he’s not worried too much about that. 
     I had planned to make a quick swing through the market – but really there’s no such thing.  The only thing quick in guinea is the amount of time it takes for your clothes to dry in the sun.  Tea takes at least a long and drawn out 45 min. in order to pour and froth the tea from every which height and direction. A ‘5min’ meeting stretches on to an hour (or an hour and a half, considering you started 30min late).  Walking up the road to buy bread can easily take half the afternoon, as you’re pulled into greetings and conversation by everyone along the way.  So, in due course, I had in mind stopping off quick to buy one panga I had my ‘market mama’ save for me, but I end up chatting and browsing and come back with three.  I had just come from checking out some artisana type shops up the road and I was thoroughly unimpressed.  Lots of clothing and kitsch specifically made to sell to tourists – ehgh. So I guess you could say I make my way quickly out of these shops, too. 
     I spied a few signs around town today that I really got a kick out of.  One read, “Pain” with a drawing of 2 loafs of bread above it.  Does this bread give you Pain?  I gathered it should read “Pan” instead (French for bread).  Anther was a sign for an Alimentation shop with lettering that looked like it was inspired by Rocky Horror.  I wonder, what kind of snacks and goodies do they sell in there?  I also saw a sign for ‘jeux’ games and videos and “baby foot.”  I immediately start to scan all the feet of kids that I pass in the neighborhood and see if any are missing.
   I had to go to the dentist today, and wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into.  We pull up to a building with a bunch of Chinese lettering on the outside, and before I we even reach the door I catch whiff of that unmistakable dentist smell.  Inside is a tacky/lavish décor of tiles, fake plants (including fake ivy wrapped around columns) and a huge, black counter that everyone looks like dwarfs next to (intimidation factor?).  It for some reason I feel like this could also be a public pool, with all the tiles and echoing nature.  Anyway I fill out some forms and hunker into a chair and wait to see what happens.  A Chinese lady with a black scarf wrapped tightly around her neck almost like a brace, a pearl necklace and little glasses comes out and says she has pain in her neck and one the other doctors will see me ( I guess this is her place).  I get called back into a kind of dingy room with the dentist chair, they seem to have pretty modern equipment (no pliers lying around) but still I’m happy I don't need to have any work done. 
            I meet up with Adrissa and we go to have dinner at his family’s house. I notice the taxi driver ripping the bills people hand him before he shoves them into one of the front cubbies of the car.  Hmm? Adrissa tells me that they do this to see if they’re fake.  Ok, so this explains why I get so much ripped money in Guinea.  We walk down a very rough, bumpy exposed rock road - which compares to parts of terrain found on Mt. Fuji – in order to get to the families house. Not the easiest thing in flip-flops and a dress – my mantra is “please don’t stub my toe, please don’t stub my toe.”  In fact, I have noticed that many of the back streets in Conakry would be considered hiking, if not for the fact that they’re supposedly in a city. At the family’s house, we eat tÔ with a ground up fish-peanut butter sauce.  Note to the culinary timid, Susu’s love there hot peppers.  My nose is running like a firehouse and I tell mom, “Mmm it’s delicious.” I definitely like to taste my food more than disguise it with fire.  When I rinse off my hands, one of the 15yr old cousins throws the water off the deck – and into the freshly dried clothes on the line.  We all laugh, but grandma scolds.  She’s taken her seat as grand overseer of the home, biting slackness in the butt. We say our goodbyes, and head out for a trek through Rattomah. 
        I enjoy wandering through these rough residential streets.  Youth are out all along the road, and Adrissa gets shout-outs and seems to know most of them along the way.  We come to a hilly, overlooking section where a bunch of Rasta guys are hanging out, doing their afternoon thang.  It reminds me a little of Lasa, the Rasta community just outside of Bamako up on the hill overlooking the town.  We go over to greet who seems to be the big brother of the group, who’s got a wrap on open at the top and his dreads come spilling out like an overflowing volcano.  Cool, alright, easy, fist bounce….and we walk down the hill and up to the train tracks.  This is the spot.  We have a panoramic view down into the city, and are surrounded by green up here in the hills, very peaceful.  There’s a walkway along the tracks and as we cruise along we meet groups of youth sitting and chillin.  We continue along the tracks until they run into neighborhoods again and we zigzag along till we’re back in Taoyah.  Back on the main road I feel like a deer in the headlights, I can’t stand all these vehicles coming towards me.  The lights, the dust, the pollution – take me back, country roads. 
       Nevertheless, I return back to village and am greeted by sights like kids practicing back flips in the discarded pile of rice stalks.  I walk the all of 5 ‘blocks’ from my house to the small market and greet the orange selling ladies, aka my fan club.  I continue my walk, pass groups of guys making their Friday-night-tea-and-conversation, and begin to hear my guitar.  Ah yes, the jam is in session. I’m really glad I brought this guitar as it’s gotten a ridiculous amount use already, it’s passed around like a newborn, and I’d like to think its inspiring a new wave of musicians.  There’s a group of 10 or so guys hanging around, all magnetized by the sounds.  The soft light of the moon invites everyone to stay outside longer.
      We hear drumming in one direction (coming from the beaux arts university) and decide to go check it out.  A rehearsal is in session, and wild drumming, singing, dancing, and acting ensues.  There’s even a sizable audience that’s come out of the woodwork, probably also by following the sounds.  The practice is in one large room, lit only by one battery operated lantern that gives the room a smoky, faint, almost dreamlike glow.  The dancers’ bodies are like shadows, flitting fast and furiously across the wall. The drums resound and the loud taps crack and bounce off the walls in every direction.  The acting is a sort of historical allegory - hunters prowl around, people are led off in chains, and I think I know what they’re getting at.  All these shadow bodies are so quick, supple and expressive.  Reality is more beautiful and leads to more in depth questions than the dream.      

No comments:

Post a Comment