Nighttime in Nampoch is one of my favorite times. Unless I am mad because my laptop battery is dead or that I have to hold a flashlight to read a book or do crosswords. The past couple of nights have been a full, or nearly full, moon. There is usually enough light to see by, to cast shadows, but not enough to see if the thing moving in the weeds is a rope around a goats neck or a snake. A goat with an especially long rope once about gave me a heart attack.
Moon shadows are interesting. They outline everything in stark black. They wash out color and reduce the world to shades of gray, which might be more accurate anyway. Moonbeams reflect off dusty tin roofs and give thatch a silver shimmer.
The moonlight washes out most of the stars, but when there is no moon, the universe is laid out like a map in front of your face. I see stars and other stuff that I never knew you could see, like the International Space Station. One night I watched that soar over my head in a perfectly straight line. The other night I saw an ugly shooting star that burned up in two thick contrails, sort of like what I would imagine comes out of a dragon's snout, only in reverse.
Sometimes I sit out under the magic reseau mango tree and listen. I hear the distant thuds of girls pounding yams or maybe pepper in big wooden pestle as they make supper. There is always at least one dog yapping somewhere, and the sound of distant poultry in distress. Perceived or real, it all sounds the same. Children bawl. Last night I heard one kid off in the brush who screamed with all the rage in the world. There is the staticy hum of radio broadcasts from neighboring houses, or from my own. Music and world news 6 miles in the countryside. It is life in an audio clip.
Last monday, I had a goodbye party for Karen in Nampoch. Abby, Jen, Brandon, and Dani came. All my friends from village where there too. It was a lot of fun. We did a fetish ceremony to protect us against snakebite, and to ask for good luck for Karen. Then we went back to my house to hang out. Karen brought her guitar, so we sang songs while she played it. "One tin soldier," "Wagon Wheel," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Circle Game," "Hallelujah," that one song that goes "the lion sleeps tonight" in french, etc. We were surrounded by Togolese. Eventually we sang our respective national anthems. Later on, we ate a big dinner. Then someone brought a boom box and a stack of cassettes and we had an impromptu dance party. There must have been 60 kids in my compound, plus a lot of other people. We danced until midnight. It was amazing. It was one of the best nights I've had here. I like parties that take on a life of their own.