I find it difficult to sit down and just write about whats been happening the last month. How do I sum things up for the readers back home? In one sense not a whole lot has happened these last couple months. In another though so much happened in that I am living in Africa which you may be suprised to find, is in no way similar to America. Instead of rambling I have decided to just copy some journal entrys. I went back and read a couple and I think they sum of my experience pretty well.
Journal Entry 433:
Had an interesting conversation with my host dad today. I was hanging out with my dad today, reading a book like I do everymorning before I break my fast. Lately I have been reading Nightwatch by Terry Pratchett (great read). I set it down to crack open some groundnuts. My father picked it up and started examining it. "The Bible?" he asks. "Nightwatch," I reply. He looked confused. "It was written by Terry Pratchett" I explain "he writes novels." My dad knows enough English to know what I am saying, yet he still appears confused. I show him the picture of the author in the back of the book. He starts to laugh "This man looks just like you!!" (he doesent look a thing like me). He stops laughing. "Wait, this one man wrote this whole book by himself?" he asks. I tell him that it is true. The look on his face suggested that I had just succesfully blown his mind. (side note: if you try hard enough you can blow a Gambians mind on a daily basis. Tell them Americans have been to the moon or that Tupac is dead, works everytime.) "So these are Christain stories?" he asks. I tell him no, how am I supposed to explain the adventures of Sammy Vines to this man. Long story short my father had only seen one type of books in his life. The Koran and books relating to the Koran. He had only heard of one other type of book in his life, The Bible. He basically assumed that all books were copies of these texts or that all other books would be religious based. It was an enlightening conversation to have.
Journal Entry 212:
Today I was walking in my village and came across a girl of maybe 12 to 13 years of age. She was doing dishes by the pump. As I walked towards her she causually glanced up at me. Her eyes got huge as she was clearly astonished to see me. Her look of astonishment was quickly replaced by a look of pure, unfettered fear. She started to run away and only stopped when she looked back to find me laughing hysterically. She gave me a cautious smile and I left her alone. Now I am accustomed to children running and screaming in fear of me but that was the first time a girl of her age had ever reacted that way, which leads me to believe I was the first white man she had ever seen in person. Got to love being a twobob (white man) Speaking of twobob.....so being called a twobob has gone from cute to infuriating at times. You see the children here (who are not terrified) run after you yelling "Twobob! Twobob! Twobob!" and in the urban areas "Twobob Minty! Twobob Minty!" (white tourists love to throw candy at children). I loved the attention at first, but now its a constant reminder that I am a stranger. Its funny when you think about it though. Its like a blackman walking down the streets of Port Angeles with a group of white children chasing him yelling "blackman, blackman!" or singing "black man is here, black man is here!" (yaaa they do that to). Or its like a mexican strolling through Seattle with a group of twenty white children screaming "Hey Mexican, Tortilla....Mexican Tortilla!!!!" Hahaha oh man its so funny to think of like that. The best way I have found to combat this is when you have a group following you, turn around and say in the local language "Where is the white man?" and then look around as if your ready bolt when you see him. They stop and usually become extremely confused. I can just hear them thinking "He is right here.....right? He is white.....isent he?" The smarter ones will piont to you at which point you say "I am not white, look I am as black as coal!" 9 our of 10 times they are speachless "Wait a sec did he just say he was as black as coal? Is he speaking Mandiken? He thinks he is black.....is he?" I can usually walk away at this point with a bit of peace of mind.
So there you have it folks a day in the life of Alajie...I mean Seth! Now last blog entry I asked you guys to post some questions and I will now respond to them. Someone asked about the wildlife here and the other asked about funny stories from the bush. I will answer both of those questions with one story. After I touch a bit on wildlife first. Gambia used to have all the works: lions, elephants, zebra, etc...but thanks to our good friend deforestration and desertification they no longer dwell here. However there are hippos (have yet to see but trust me I will), Hyenas (wake up to them fighting in the night every once and a while), crocs (no desire to see one) and lots of monkeys and birds (gorgeous birds). And a whole bunch of baboons.
So I was walking down the road toward this camp. There was a bunch of babbons trying to figure out how to get into this small water tank. They look occupied and I had a lot of my fellow trainees around so was not really afraid of them. Now its common knowledge that baboons are not really afraid of humans. As we were walking this medium sized baboon crossed in front of me. He slowed down and made eye contact with me. He was no more than five feet in front of me and my gaurd was up as was his. Finally after what seemed like minutes he made a move as if to charge me. Now on my person I possessed a hat (pretty useless right?) a nalgene bottle (its pretty hard and would hurt to get wacked by) and a knife (sharp!!!) I think you already know what I did. I grabbed my hat off my head and was prepared to fight with it. Luckily for me and my hat he was just teasing me. He only came foward about a foot or two before heading back into the bush. It was a test of dominance and we both knew the winner. He smelt my fear. I swear I heard him laughing as he strutted back into the bush.
Anyways hope this is not too much to read, hopefully will have another update in a month time. Tell me what you think....and please post any questions you may have.