Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Eating Termites, Hair Cut, Sunday Lunch

28 November – Romongo, 9:59pm

Damn it's late! Yesterday we had language, a feedback interview with our program trainers Hamado and Justan, a class on bike repair from Al and David, and a long lunch followed by an extra class on FGM. I also learned why books should not be put against or near a wall, as evidenced by my new book (The Dante Club) which has been eaten away by termites that live in those mysterious little mud trails on my walls. Thankfully they didn't get far, but I imagine that with another week or two they would have reached the text instead of just nibbling the margins.

Lunch was fun, at the gas station restaurant. Grace and I wanted to share a pizza but there was no cheese to be had, so we had a burger and fries instead. It was the first time I've been in a group without any Romongo people – weird. But clearly we had a lovely time, with Tana designing dresses for us, Scott showing off Thanksgiving photos, and Grace and I discussing lack of attachment to our hair and desire to cut it off. I returned back to AP alone where I was soon joined by Lindsy and Wendy. I was anxious to get the hair cutting finished before class and asked if they'd like to do it, but both demurred so I impatiently waited for someone else to return. Bridget was enthusiastic once I reassured her that there was absolutely no way to cut my head with the clippers and guard, and happily went to town. As more people returned it became more entertaining, although I flat out refused Rob's request to keep a mullet for a day. When we got home and my host family realized that I'd cut off my hair they were incredibly amused, and really seemed to like it. Then again, a shaved haircut on a woman is not at all unusual here – my oldest host sister has hair shorter than mine is now.

NB – I had been considering cutting my hair, which had gotten quite shaggy, when Daniel showed up with his clippers. Antoinette was brave and went first, and thus reassured I decided I should do mine. So now my hair is very very short, ¾ of an inch according to the clipper guard. I don't really see mirrors ever, so I don't really know how it looks, but it's fun and soft when I run my hand over it, doesn't itch the back of my neck, and drys really fast. If I get a chance I promise I'll get someone to take a photo that I can put up here – it's probably not that different in length from the one already up here, just less fancy and layered.

And today was Sunday fun day! Slept in until 6:20am (!) and leisurely got ready. Did my laundry. Mamu and the other very young kids kept trying to help but I was a little afraid that their concentrated scrubbing and pulling at one tiny corner of a shirt or skirt would result in it getting stretched out or ripped, and I was glad when my host dad came to put them to work. Salimata (my host sister) helped me and it was finished pretty quickly, even with a second rinse that got all the soap out! I hung everything up and set to cleaning my room, moving the table, knocking down termite tunnels, even washing the table and the shelf below. I rearranged all my books and paperwork on top of the table, and the food on the bottom shelf. I left the spiders alone, hoping they'll continue to leave me alone.

After cleaning I did some laundry and waiting for Emily to come by so we could continue on to Alicia's house. Salimata kept telling me to go outside to greet the cheif/Imam/important person who had come to speak across from our house, but I felt really awkward interrupting a very large meeting just to greet someone so I sat and watched the crowd grow from my seat in our side courtyard. Emily and I left my house, met up with Alicia, and finally found Bridget who took us to her house where Steve joined us. We made grilled sandwiches on local bread, spread with VQR and Italian spices and stuffed with sauteed cucumbers and onions seasoned with garlic salt. Delicious! We sat on mats under her tree and played UNO with her host dad and cousin, who are 24 and 17 respectively, and ate rice with a peanut sauce made by her host mom. We drank some dolo with the old men, and hung around talking until 4ish before heading our separate ways. I really enjoy our Romongo lunches, and I think that's one thing I'm going to miss most about going to site. Lucky for me 4 of our 6 Village People live within 100k of each other, and 2 are within a day's bike ride from me!

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