Tuesday, February 22, 2011


        I've just finished my run, and am in the street in front of my house, all sweaty. A farmer walks by on his way to the fields with his cap on and rusty blade in hand and says, "Good morning, my wife," as if it's the most casual greeting in the world. "Eh?  Really?" I harp back.  What do i say to this? He seems to have woken up on the good side of the bed and is all coy first thing in the morning. I let him continue on down the road and assume whatever he wants to assume.
     I visit the drum and dance school and the kids are in full swing.  Yaya (the main teacher) is getting perturbed that the kids cant fall into line on cue, and he breaks out a cigarette in class as a last resort to his sanity.  He puffs out orders along with the smoke.  The kids dont seem phased, nevertheless, I step aside to avoid the fumes and stay away from the line of fire. the performance is definitely coming together though.  My critique is:  make sure the kids know which foot/arm to start out on, otherwise the crazy dance looks even more untamed (arms and legs going every which way.....and there's always one kid thats off and that's all it takes to throw the whole thing!).  I love to watch the little boy in back, as he swings wildly at his drums, does some on-the-spot-dancing and still manages to keep the beat. He's so animated - quite the character.  the girl to his left has new purple, crimpy bob hair-do.  Purple and bright red hair is big now for ladies (does the Rhianna video have something to do with it??)
      We go outside and the kids start their normal antics. The local sheep come up the road, leading themselves of course.  I see thier favorite blue car is parked out front and i'm waiting for them to notice it and go up and rub up against it and give it some lovin.  Nothing like a good skratch on the car.
       After practice, i pass by the normal chill spot on my ride back into village, but nobodys there - odd.  so I cruise over to my tailors - but she's at the hospital.  I'm told not to deliver her baby though - odd again.  I swear she's 11mo and rivaling the size of a pregnant hippo - time to come, baby ?! I talk with the girl tennants (students) at her house.  They in jeans and bras, their mid-day around the house attire.  One of the young girls sweeps and her boobs are hanging in funny positions almost popping out of her shirt, so that when she stands up their squished up and almost out of her shirt but she doesn’t seem to mind.  Breasts are not a scene in Africa; covered, uncovered, partially sticking out of shirts, see through shirts, it’s up to the preference of the woman.  I watch two guys across the way take turns pounding grain with a wooded pestle.  As I leave the tailor’s and start riding up the street, a goat does a jump dance as he comes down the hill - ha! so hilarious. And no, I’m not seeing things in midday heat.  I ride by the gendarme and about 20 guys are sitting around doing absolutely nothing (as they were 30min ago when I first rode by).  A few of them are lounging across cars opposite from their compound – next to the fine collection of crashed demolition vehicles (like a museum exhibit of bad accidents).  I ride by the favorite ‘chill spot’ again and this time I’m overrun by young guys.  Too much dude energy.  I take my guitar and head to the river and sit on the roots of the giant Baobab.  Groups of kids playing come by in waves, a few sit down to listen and one lays down on the fishermen’s nets and takes in the sounds, then they all run off and play again.  I enjoy my respectful audience of petites. I continue to sit and play, the breeze comes, and the afternoon passes. 
            At 5, I ride along the main road out of Dubreka to Mr. Yaya’s house for tea.  I’m not really sure exactly where his house is but it’s on the main road and sure enough he flags me down when I ride by as I was focused on the road and not the scenery - busy trying not to hit any potholes head-on!  A gang of youth is occupying all available seating.  One’s even sitting in the car, windows down, not going anywhere just the best place for him to take in the conversation.  Two guys are sitting opposite me on a bench, facing each other, involved in an eternal match of some French board game with colored pieces and dice ( someone tells me it’s called ‘Nido’ but this is also the name for the popular powdered milk here, so I’m not sure about this).   I bet if I came here tomorrow at 6am they’d still be at it.  Cars and trucks whiz by on the main road.  We have front row seats to all that passes – and Yaya makes use of this by shouting out intermittently to people he knows in passing (even though I don’t think either party can fully understand what the other’s saying due to speed and other noise interference, nevertheless they make up for it with even louder voice and enthusiasm). A guy runs by, strong build, looks like a professional footballer, outfit and all, high socks and then I look down and see he’s running in jellies (of course!). A van rips by and teeters down the road laden with a 10story stack what looks like mattresses stuffed with hay (basically as villagey as you get).  I definitely wouldn’t want to be riding behind them if that all fell.  I turn and see the girl to my right has a tube of ‘cole-minute’ (like superglue) and is turning it around and playing with it like one would a pen – not the wisest lady.  The ‘premier,’ the first cup of tea (as opposed to the weaker 2nd and 3rd brews), is poured and I’m handed one with a high hat of foam.  I know they just put a bag of sugar in the brew but the tea is still so bitter it makes me feel nauseous. I sip slowly yet even still this shot glass of tea never seems to end. Everyone’s having a heated debate in Susu. I feel a bit left out and I don’t want to wait around for the 2nd round of tea, so I decide to take my leave. I huff up the hill and head back to the chill corner.  University students have started to come out of the woodwork – I make a mental note of all the new faces.  It seems like no one ever has any work to do – neither homework, nor job work.  Youth is passed not really applying oneself; hours are spent talking and dreaming but not doing.
            The market at night is lit by little camping sized Kerosene burners and with candles – how romantic.  I stroll over and get some salad.  It’s so easy to get sick from salad here so I find myself praying that I’m served well.  I take my chances and live to write another tale, “Dieu Merci” (as seen written on the passing shared-taxi-bus, “Thank God,” yes, damn right).     

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