Friday, August 17, 2007

And I can't wait to get on the road again...

Another update you say? Crazy I know. I have been traveling lot in the last week. My first trip was by accident. After playing bocce ball one of the men said the king wanted me to come with them to the ceremony in Firou. He elaborated that the ceremony was cleanse the bad will left there by the Bariba people. That a long time ago the Bariba killed a lot of Houssa (an ethnic group from Niger) and just put them in a mass grave and this is one reason why Kouandé had stopped developing. They decided it was time to go to the site and pray and make animal sacrifices. I said I would go and they said they would come by the house at 7am. I thought that they would forget but at 6:30 they started tapping on my door. I got ready and we went out in front of the king’s concession. There were a lot of cars starting to fill up including a large 18 wheeler type vehicle for people.

I ended up in the extended cab of a Helux truck. In the truck bed was a cow, a goat and a chicken for sacrifice and a number of human passengers.

The king had his own covered truck and sat shotgun. In the back he had people playing drums and horns every time we passed through a village.

After about 3 hours we started to come close to the town of Kerou (where there are two Peace Corps volunteers) at this time a sage femme started handing out beers. I was given a Guinness and started looking for Ben and Chanti only to find some French girl scouts… yeah. After stopping in Kerou to have a beer and say hi to the king we continued the 25km to Firou.

We arrived in Firou and were met by half the village they were all excited to see us. Of course we continued to give our respect to the king then made our way a km away where the mass grave was. This was a mound covered in rocks. Just as the prayers started it started to rain. Then it started to rain heavily. People ran under trees and back into the trucks. I was glad I brought my rain jacket and must have been a sorry sight, standing under a tree getting rained on. Once the rains stopped the animals were sacrificed and we were able to leave. We ate with the nurse at the hospital then stopped at a buvette for a beer. This beer turned into 4 because various people kept buying us rounds. The part that makes this interesting is that everyone else was drinking small beers and the beer I requested they only had large ones which is no big deal for one of two beers but for 4 it becomes a different story. At this point its starting to get dark and we drop off people in Kerou and I decide to try and find the other volunteers. As I was asking the zemidjan if he knew where Chanti lived he said yes but she is standing right there and sure enough she was across the street. She was on her way to meet Ben for a drink. It was a nice coincidence. We finally left Kerou and made the 3 hour trip back to Kouandé, the beers helped me sleep on the terrible muddy road. We arrived after 1am. What a long day.

Later that week I decided to visit Lizzy, a TEFL volunteer in Ouéssé. This took 4 taxies and all day. She has a really nice house and a fun village. I enjoy seeing other people’s posts. I saw the school where she teaches and met some of her friends. There also happen to be a death in the family next door and this as we all know means that very loud traditional music needs to be played for one and half days. Literally all night this music played, well no actually it stopped from 5am to 6am. Then started again and lasted well after I left. Right now I’m in Parakou workstation hanging out with the TEFL kids on their way back from post visits. Heading back to Natitingou today. Still no word on when the cell phone situation will be resolved but everyone has heard something from someone saying that it will be turned on this week… then next week… and so on.

Let me leave you with some Allman Brothers song lyrics:

Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
When it's time for leaving, I hope you'll understand
That I was born a rambling man

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