Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Laughing and crying

The end has begun.  It is the time of lasts.  D came out to Nampoch for the last time.  I went up north for the last time.  Etc.

You know how rainbows are supposed to mean its not going to rain?  I biked home late the other afternoon under a looming thunderstorm. This is not unusual.  Storms come boiling haphazardly over the eastern horizon most afternoons this time of year.  This onrushing storm, however, was crowned by a massive rainbow that scraped underside of its anvil.  Like the inverted grin of a cosmic Cheshire cat leering at me as I frantically pedaled home. 

Kader and I went up to Dapaong the other weekend to see people (him), and to say goodbye to people (me).  We had a really good time.  It was funny though, one morning we were walking from the transit maison to get breakfast and Kader ran into 2 people that he knew on the street.  In Togo, I think there is only maybe 2 degrees of separation between anyone.   

Like I said, D came out to say goodbye to Nampoch last weekend.  Her visit coincided with a revival of sorts that the local Assembly of God church held.  Several of my friends/neighbors are, I found out, fervent Pentecostals.  They had invited a pastor/church group up from Atakpame to help them revive? witness to? preach at? the gentle folk of Nampoch Friday night.  Thus it was that I got to watch one of the preachers evangelizing (a friend of my was translating for him) to a group of people sitting around a tchakpa stand. They, being good Konkumba, listened solemnly to the good news.  Then, once the evangelists moved on to other pastures, started laughing.   

The evangelizing culminated, or continued, with an all-night revival. I had been given to believe that this was going to happen at one of the primary schools.  D and I got home from the marche at about 20h00 to see lights set up outside of my house under the neem tree: “you have got to be f***ing kidding me.”  The drums started shortly thereafter.  Petite was up wandering around:  “Ils sont entren de dérange les gens!” translation “they are really really bothering me”  I felt so bad for him that I gave him a benedryl to help him sleep.  D and I each popped 2. 

The revival itself was kind of funny, except for that it went all night.  The preacher harangued in French, with a translator right behind him doing Konkumba.  Random English phrases would occasionally pop out like “praise the lord!”  The kids would cheer no matter what they said.  

One of the reasons why I love it here is because I can give my Pentecostal friends crap because they kept me up all night and they think its hilarious

I went to the local computer café the other day to print some stuff off.  The woman who worked there was like “it doesn’t work now. the electricity is too weak.” I pointed out that both her computer and printer were on at the moment, so she agreed to try.  And then none of the folders on my USB drive showed up on her computer.  So I biked back to Bry’s cleaned off all the newly installed viruses, and brought it back.  Success!  Document one printed off.  Then she’d just clicked ‘print’ on the second one when the power twigged out and her computer rebooted.  And kept rebooting.  I waited for a half hour or so and watched the computer detect its BIOS about 20 times.  Once Windows even started.  Then I explained to the assistant why her calling me “anesara” was like me calling her “noir.”  This was funny.  Then she wanted me to take her to the States. I told her no because she wasn’t polite, but that I would take her boss because she was.  This was even funnier. Then we talked about my name, both actual and local. This was funny because my local name means “its good.” Then I got tired of waiting and told them I would come back in the afternoon to pick up my stuff if they ever got the computer to stay on.  And the assistant told me that I needed to bring her bread when I came back.  I asked her if she wanted beer and meat too.  She said she did and laughed some more.  It was a funny hour.  

Sometime a couple weeks ago Kader and I went to Concorde bar to while away the hot midday hours with a cold beverage.  The waitresses weren’t very busy so we told ours to get herself a drink and pull up a chair.  Kader told me that she was an English student at the University of Kara.  She couldn’t afford to stay in school so she was working at this bar in Kouka until she can save enough to go back.  She spends her days getting harassed by men twice her age with less than 3rd of her education in order to go back to college.  Kader was like “how is my country supposed to develop if people like her cannot afford to go to university?”  The best I could do was to tell her that education is the best investment she could make, and tip her well.

Its peanut season again! My thumb is sore but the rest of me is happy.

One thing I will not miss here is incidents like last night.  I was performing my bedtime ablutions when I noticed these little brown bugs everywhere in my house.  They look sort of like miniature cockroaches.  I experienced a fit of pique and broke out my insecticide.  Then I retired to re-watch Battlestar Galactica.  I had the foresight to drop the curtain to my bedroom so I didn’t fumigate myself in the process. I did not, however, have the foresight to foresee that the bug population in my main room would come to the same conclusion.  Chitinous exodus to my bedroom.  Ugh.

I will miss about everything else.  I have been having a tendency to get emotional in odd places. 
N’tido is determined to get out of Nampoch and go start her apprenticeship in Kouka.  She told me yesterday that she’s leaving Sunday whether her father consents or not. I tried to explain to her that, like fathers with daughters everywhere, he is reluctant to actually let her go.  The cost of her 2 year apprenticeship contract is 70 mille.  I pulled it out on my credit card last week and gave it to her. I thought she was going to start crying in my house.  $150 is a small price to help someone improve her lot in life.  The next day N’tido was like “when you leave, I am going to cry a lot.”

I still have these surreal moments here where reality splinters into glistening shards of incongruity.  I had one the other evening.  I had spent most of the day in Kouka where I reconnected with the rest of the world via Facebook etc.  I think I still had visions of all the status updates on my newsfeed dancing in my head when I was walking home from Kodjo’s house with Petite.  He pointed to our neighbor’s house and was like “someone died there yesterday, a child. It was 1 year old.”  I found myself wondering what my Facebook newsfeed would look like if everyone from Nampoch was on it.  17 year old girl-- “My baby was really sick so I took it to the hospital in Kouka.  The doctor said that its blood was bad (from malaria and malnutrition) and sent me to the hospital in Bassar to get a transfusion for it.  By the time we got there, it had died.  My mother and I buried it. Since it was just a baby its grave is unmarked.  Only I will remember its name.”  

Rain in Nampoch

I thought I should finally take/post a picture of a typical bush taxi.  There will be 15-20+ people in that, depending on kids.

on my bike ride home.  those are sheep in the distance

more rain

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