I don’t take any credit for the title of this post…quoted from the one and only Dr. Phil which I read in an O Magazine that was sent to my friend Brandon in a motherly care package. Thanks Brandon’s mom. Now on with the post….
I arrived back at the Harford compound at quite a late hour ( well according to African standards, not too much outside activity after dark).I passed through the gate, greeted the guard and quickly proceeded into the campus. The ambience of the old boarding school at night is till something I am trying to get used to. It’s gorgeous in the light of day but for many reasons it seems rather spooky at night. So I was walking fast. My house is in the back of the compound and after passing the boarding halls, it opens up to a clearing with a path running to the staff quarters and of course, there is no “city light”, it’s pitch black. However, I stopped abruptly, not because I was scared or couldn’t see where I was walking but realized I was passing within thousands of fireflies twinkling in the darkness like the way stars flicker in the sky. The only thing I could think of was WAWA. West Africa Wins Again. Beautiful beyond words.
My first few weeks at site have produced countless WAWA moments whether from beauty, confusion, laughter, frustration or utter shock. Welsh and I have encountered an unbelievable amount of random run-ins which are worth sharing. I hope you laugh or maybe many were just had to be there moment but all’s I know is that we have laughed a lot in Moyamba.
If you are a frequent Dispatch reader you have noticed that Meghan and I do a trunk ton of cooking which evidently means lots of market trips and as the only two white girls in town, we often attract a crowd and some attention. While, I will never have time to relay all the market stories with you, one vividly stands out. We just had an amazing trip to the ‘junks’ clothing stand, I found my most favorite style of H&M jeans, so this girl was exceedingly happy. Junks shopping could be compared to Goodwill shopping on steroids. I am under the impression that all used clothing that is not wanted in America or Europe, ends up in Africa. There is some fantastic stuff…Anyway, we walked into the market only to be bombarded by this older lady who was talking in rapid fire Mende that I didn’t’ understand. I was trying my best but I could not figure out what she was saying, but in a blur she grabbed me and literally attempted to ‘suckle’ my breast. This all happened to quickly and to be quite frank I am still not sure what happened…WAWA. Rest assured we still went on our merry way and found all the things we needed for another cooking session. The lady is one of the happiest and friendliest in the market and I have not had any other incidents with my boobs or any other body parts for that matter.
It’s been interesting trying to adjust to the facet that in Moyamba there is only Meghan and I, instead of 35 other pumuys as we were in Bo. Consequently, we have been attracting all sorts of curious attention from the community. Moyamba has been wonderfully welcoming and everyone is ecstatic to show us the town. We constantly hear (usually shouted from a distance by a small pikin) Wetin na yu nem? A wan you for padi!! (What is your name; I want you for a friend). Basically, think of “friending” on facebook. Man, I would have a crap ton of Facebooksque friends if West Africa was wired with the ‘book’.
Meg and I could also potentially do a little construction work. Because two girls with English degrees are brilliant in building things? This house between Harford and St. Joseph’s (Welsh’s school) had an issue keeping two of its mud walls up. Our curiosity led us to have an quizzical conversation with the guy rebuilding the walls and he said we can come help pack the dirt. Heck yes….I will let you know how are walls look.
One day, I was sitting with the ten “pikin dem” on my porch, playing some sort of game, when we were distracted by a noise of an airplane which is not a frequent occurrence. All the children and I dashed out to the clearing behind my house just as a large while helicopter flew overhead with the large black block letters of the U.N. Just a moment that reiterates the fact that I am very much living in the developing world and that SL is still recovering from many years of conflict. This is the third poorest country in the world; there is incredible amount of need here.
Ok, sorry, that was a little sad, just was the moment but on a ‘lighter’ moment. Meghan and I saw two dogs with their butts stuck together. And if once isn’t confusing enough our Moyamba sighting was the second of our West Africa life, yes, we had seen this once before in Bo. Not entirely sure, why, when, or how…but it happened.
But I haven’t been this content in one place for a long time, even under rather new and challenging living conditions. I don’t have electricity or running water. Rely on the ‘double holiness” bright candles and a kerosene lamp to get anything accomplished (well anything that isn’t sleep) after 7:30pm. My water source is a pump that’s only a few minutes from my house and hopefully with some luck I can return to SD with some muscles from mastering the pump. I am more than ecstatic to see by my dim light at night and to trek for water for my bucket bath.
Mende has proven unlike any other language I have learned before. I am struggling and struggling with the pressure from my community to learn it. Learning to control my frustration when people just yell at me in Mende and expect me to know it. While Krio was challenging it’s so close to English you can figure out what a person want, Mende new ball game. I can greet, say my name is Fatmata, ask for mangos, say I am a Peace Corps teacher and I am from America. That’s the extent of my vocab, I will be getting a teacher asap.
Meghan Welsh has been creating quite a stir within the male population of Moyamba. All the guys seem to love her and enjoy expressing this love through letters. There is one in particular that sticks out. Meghan has a king who is a poet with his words. Here is a fine piece of literature to Wuya from the King: It starts with a ‘leisure moment’ from 6 to 6:30 am....
Ado, thus thou art so much luv for thee, really your luv turns me on. Sweet, sweet luv makes I bright, jolly, the happiest day to day. I’m in luv, same also, no hypocrisy, always, why fear? No Fear! Just in reverence for the Lord. You luv brightens my emotions, actually. Ire, ire luv, show me luv.
Let your luv come down like rain drops ‘en flourishes forever in luv for thy loved one King. Let the beautiful face of the beauty of thy flows ‘en shone upon you and I. When I call come into my heart, lovely. A glance of your lovely looks made me glad with joy full of roses. Luv smiles, happy happy the happiest.
How long will I send thee luv lyrics, my most prettiest cupid of luv? For the Lord had made it so, so let luv be so. Just an appointment, a visit, day schedule ignites our luv ever than before, higher than lower, yep, yep, yep, my luv for u is so deep in the air. So much storytelling. You are so much dear to me. How can King get to Wuyatta Alpha ‘en get the best of she. My sweet, sweetiest luv taboo, cherry cherry.
Please communicate…let’s discuss love,
With loves of luv,
To be honest, the letters are very heartfelt and I would never be able to give a complete stranger a love letter…
In our free time…which as been abundant since we are waiting for school to reopen we have three favorite past times. One is listening to cassettes on our tape players, second is the search classic gems on tape, like Ace of Base, Phil Collins, Hip Hop mixes, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton and a ton of Reggae. We also have a small obsession with the Capitol Radio which is the big station coming out of Freetown, we listen to it so much we have all the commercials memorized and know most of all the words to pretty much all the mainstream music it plays. But to be honest it’s kind of like an awesome ipod on shuffle mode, they play some great music from what they call the “crucial decades”. The radio has really been my link to outside world. As many of you know, I was a news junkie before I left and the BBC has been feeding my craving for world updates. It’s particularly awesome to listen to Focus on Africa at night when they are recapping all the big news from the continent.
As you can tell, Meg and I are thoroughly enjoying PCV life in Moyamba, I hope you laughed as much as we have and I am sure once school starts there will be more experiences that will leave us scratching our heads, smiling, laughing hysterically, confused or just plain ecstatic to be in Sierra Leone.