Wednesday, February 4, 2009


last night was quite pleasant. dame ka, talla's dad, was spending the night in the village so it was kind of a special night. he and i chatted a bit -- he used to have a volunteer so totally understands the peace corps thing and is great to talk to. then i sat with the kids and a lady named adji signan on a basan with dame and we hung out. i got quite talkative and yammered away with them, talking about american money, my hair, softball, etc. emmanuel, the new french teacher stopped by to talk. i think this is his first year teaching and he is eager and fresh-faced. then we had chicken for dinner! it was very salty, but amazing and totally a treat. dame should come visit more often.

this morning dame left to go back to toune but he truly seemed sad to go. i found out (from him) that he was born here in my village. i didn't know that. he kept saying that our village was better than his and that he should come back home here. it was kind of sad to see the old man long for the place he was born. i imagined him reliving his childhood days, running around in the sandy corridors of the village, meanwhile surrounded by his grandchildren, a reminder of his age. i say, why not? he should come back here and hang out.

the rest of the morning i spent shelling peanuts -- i pretty much shelled half of fatou's quota for the day. my fingers hurt.

after lunch i settled inside of my hut and was just sitting around reading over my journal when women started whooping and everything seemed to explode into noise. you could just feel the atmosphere change. at first i thought they were just messing around but then it intensified and aram ran out of the compound yelling, "NDOX! NDOX!!!!" ("WATER! WATER!!!!")

i ran out of my hut and saw what i've dreaded to see in this grassy dry village -- FIRE.

turns out some kids were dicking around with matches and set baye sene's entire stock of hay and feed on fire. the wind didn't help the really dry conditions and it accelerated quickly. all the women ran out with buckets and the men were trying to salvage what they could. i ran out with my bucket -- which was totally hevy -- and ran into ma'asou who then helped me carry it over. we went to the robinet to refill. women were swarming with water and men were raking and trying to control the blazing fire. i was scared. we all then ran out to the well where two men and a horse were pulling water.

despite the chaos of the fire, i couldn't help but notice how quickly everybody fell into place and winthin an hour we got the fire down to just a few flickering and smoldering piles. still, the air is thick with smoke.

it's funny, perhaps ironic is the more appropriate word, though because just yesterday i was marveling over how lackadaisicle the women are about children and fire. even dame is allowed to stoke the fire and i began to think that perhaps it is american paranoia that keeps children from fire and that it is its mystery that causes american children to start fires or get themselves burned. guess i was wrong. fire safety is something i strongly believe in. smokey the bear, ya'll.

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