I’ve decided that it’s too difficult to outline each of my days on here, so I think I’ll stick to a few select tidbits and stories. Many of the ones I feel like posting right now sound like those ridiculous headlines you can often find on Yahoo’s homepage- including “3-foot Dwarf Rapper Performs in Made-Up Language at Gambian Beach Hotel,” “Girl Receives 24 Mosquito Bites in 2 days,” “Development of World’s Most Unusual Sandwich- Onions, Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Fried Egg, Sausage, Cucumbers, French-Fries, and Cabbage.”
I’ll provide a few visuals regarding my living situations and my experiences instead of play-by-plays. Last night, we went to Leybato Beach, a quieter beach in comparison to the one we had gone to this weekend. It was breezy and absolutely beautiful, and when we were there around 5, local men and women were all over the beach playing soccer, running, doing pushups- it seemed like the time slot allotted for physical fitness. The hotels there house a lot of ex-Peace Corps volunteers, Ex-Pats, etc. less tourists, but still some Europeans and foreigners. Marquis joined in a co-ed, all-ages, touch-rugby game, with locals and foreigners and beginners and skilled veterans, while I watched with three girls who approached me, asking me what my name was and where I “stayed” in broken English. We are occasionally asked for money or approached relentlessly by vendors, so when this girl asked me if she could ask me a question, I reluctantly said yes. However, she asked me if I was here for a long time and if I could teach her to read. I was sort of taken aback, and didn’t know if she expected me to teach her right then and there, but she said she would come back on Sunday and if I was there I could help her with her homework. I said sure, unsure of my plans, and told her maybe. She said it didn’t matter, she came to watch the rugby every night at this time, and did not mind if I couldn’t make it.
Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had here have been with the two men who stay at the hostel during the night- the night manager Malang and the security guard, whose name I cannot even attempt to spell. Our conversations have, thus far, ranged from Michael Jackson and Tupac to cremation and afterlife to Texas to snakes and magic. Every night I sit out there, for longer when the power is out. They have a lot of questions about America and me and my family and basketball, and I do my best to answer and to help them with their English.
In my bathroom, the toilet is broken, so in order to use any of the water from the toilet, sink or shower, I have to climb on top of the toilet and turn a nozzle on the wall, turning on the water for the room. Once I’ve done that, I can step into the shower- which pours down not in a steady stream but in dribbles and then a huge burst of water every few seconds. The shower hangs over both the sink and the toilet, so by the time I’m done, the water has sprayed pretty much all over the room. It’s a lot to wake up to in the morning, but at night, it’s pretty refreshing. Difficult though, when the power is out, which is every other night from 8PM-1AM. I’ve avoided a few near-death slipping accidents but no real disasters.
Now you’ve read this whole post and are probably still waiting to hear about the dwarf, so I will oblige. Sunday night is the big social/party night here and we went to another volunteer’s hotel at the more touristy beach. There were hundreds of people and very lively live music- covers of American songs by Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, and many more, and as we were leaving, a small dwarf took the stage, his jeans sagging to almost his knees. He took the microphone and started vigorously rapping in a language that seemed incomprehensible to everyone in the beach bar, but everyone was enthralled nonetheless. I sort of stood there in shock for a while but when a very large woman got up and started dancing with him, I couldn’t look away. He was so determined, and not bad in terms of rhythm and beat, I just simply had no idea what he was saying. And he was three feet tall, tops.
Next time, more on my work and my experiences at the Y. Missing everyone,