Sorry for the long time without a post. I wrote this a few days ago. Today, at home we have no water, but I have some internet access at a cafe, what a weird world….
I’m writing this on December 27th, so marks one month since I left Canada, and the 28th will mark a month since I arrived. Made it this long. Day to day stresses of survival have shifted to work related ones, and of wondering whether there is a purpose to me being here. Is the project I’m working on going to be worthwhile? I don’t really know enough yet to know the ansewr to that. My camera isn’t working so until I get that straightened out, you’ll have to bare with me.
I went to a wedding yesterday. Well, sort of. What we didn’t know was that we had been told to arrive what turned out to be hours after the actual ceremony, which took place at 8 a.m. We arrived late morning, and by then people had been divided into their respective areas: men outside the walls of the house, under their tent, women inside the walls gathered in different areas. The people getting married were two brothers (two different mothers from a polygamous marriage of my co-worker’s now deceased brother) to two women (one each). Part of one of the family is Tuareg, the ethnicity that hails from the desert part of the country who, I think, are nomadic. The men are often seen with large head dresses, like turbans, which also includes a loose piece of cloth that covers their face (presumably that came about to block out sand, but that is a presumption.) They would probably remind you more of the middle eastern people than Africans, but given they share a country there is overlap now between their cultures.
I spent a big chunk of time under the tent where some of the women were. What a hoot. These women were cheeky, funny, and joking around with each other for the whole time we were there. One woman would drum with her hands on a large metal pan, like a large (maybe 65 cm in diameter), upside down frying pan without the handle, and some women may sing a little, a traditional song. Sometimes other women come to dance, and some jokingly get up to dance and shake their touches. At one point, two women got up to do what seemed like a butt wiggle-off, one of them even inserting a pillow into her pants just to compete the other’s voluptuous behind. It was very funny! Part of the singing includes the high pitched sound I’ve heard before in Egypt while coming across a wedding, which I don’t know if I can describe. It’s high pitched, and involves wiggling one’s tongue. There could be a you-tube video somewhere that describes it.
I had a dinner engagement with a friend already planned, but my roommate carried on for the rest of the evening’s events, which included bringing the bride to her new husband’s home. From what I understand, the bride is covered with a sheet and brought to the groom’s home, who is also covered with a sheet.
They are then revealed to each other. We didn’t know whether it was an arranged marriage or not, but my roommate said the bride didn’t look very happy. My roommate also noticed it was interesting that the women who were so cheeky and teasing when at the tent in the afternoon were suddenly so formal and quiet during the later portion of the day.
I am sitting here at the Grand Hotel after an afternoon of swimming and some brochettes at sunset. I’m watching what I thought was a dramatic flock of birds scatter overhead. Hum, something is funny about those wings? Oh wait, they’re bats! Cool. Lots and lots of bats, maybe coming from the bat colony found downtown. These are the first bats of seen since reading the very neat book called “Dark banquet” which covers vampire bats, bedbugs, and leeches (and the odd other bloodsucking creatures).
|A local jazz band has started playing, they are really good, but have a strange repetoire of songs they sing in heavily accented English (probably having memorized the words by earand with sheet music.) Probably no one in the band speaks English, but the songs are still recognizable and quite enjoyable. I personally would not have chosen “Fever” to sing to a crowd of foreigners in a country where everyone gets malaria at least once, but that is still one catchy song. Other songs in their rep include “Blue moon”, “There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”, and “Killing me softly”. That last one especially brought me back to living in Montreal fifteen years ago, when the Fugees had just come out with a remake. It seemed like it played every night at 2.30 a.m. at Vol de Nuit on Prince Arthur street where my roommate and I used to go after a night of studying and writing for closing time beers. I’m not afraid of having to entertain myself, but I’ve often found that working overseas has lent itself to cyclical boughts of loneliness, even if just lasting a few minutes, and as I sat there listening to their version of the song, for a pang I was struck with how far away in both time and distance sitting on that patio in the middle of the night in Montreal is to where I find myself now. How would my 22-year old self see me now?
As I wait out getting the first bout of malaria, I have to take the required meds, which may temporarily stave off the disease and hopefully also lessen the impact of it when I do get it. I’ve taken anti-malarials before, for trips to Central America, but I think the meds for Africa are stronger. I generally have no side effects (yet- liver damage and sun sensitivity are supposed potential issues), but I do have one: really vivid dreams. I had noticed it in Guatemala but not to this degree. It is difficult to describe. It’s not that the dreams are weird, they are often quite mundane, actually, but so vivid I sometimes have trouble decifering whether it was a dream or not. The other day I had to ask my roommate “Did we discuss the light in the living room at any point?” No. Hum. Anti-malarials brain (the equivalent of a senior’s moment, I suppose.) An ex-boyfriend I haven’t spoken to in ten years has reared his head three times in dreams – not in a starring role, just a cameo, but why? Why now? It was like he was *really* communicating with me. In the morning it sometimes take a while to straighten out the images in my head, and assure myself it’s a dream. It’s a little unsettling. (Not as unsettling as the I dreamed- without anti-malarials- that I was dating Michael Ignatieff and wondered when I awoke: am I? My stepmother tried to convince me I was too good for him, and my father let out a little “ew, yuck” when I suggested it could be worse: it could have been Peter McKay. But I digress.)
So for Christmas I had a surprise invitation to someone’s house for dinner- a Canadian woman who was having family from Quebec. It was really good and involved singing to Charles Aznavour, which reminded me of C.R.A.Z.Y. I spent New Year’s Eve with her and her relatives too, which was great. We ushered in midnight under the stars on her patio.
Happy New Year everyone. 2010 finally here, and I’ve been sick of hearing about it since 2003. Miss you all.