Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Village life continued:

The days continue as we experienced our visit here and learned the intricacies of village life. Everyone wanted their photos taken: children, parents, family groups, friends, chums, and just because.   dancing, and boy was he good  I love this photo. Would our girls go to school with one sock on and one off and 2 different shoes?
 Travis and Travis

 This is my absolute favorite - oh the smiles.
I can't begin to put up even a representation as the numbers are astronomical.
Every time I or anyone else took a photo, we had to turn the camera and show whoever the photo. Could I induce them to smile? Sometimes but not all wanted to smile.

A visit to another village, one that Travis is working with as well.     the villagers were justly proud of their farming efforts and the group brought home vegetables to add to our soup pot: sweet potatoes unlike anything found here in the US and greens. They also grew cassava.   

 everywhere, in this or any other village, the children were fascinated by use and our toys

Learning just how hard it is to make schima from cassava. They harvest it, the dry it, they pound it, they cook it ...  cassava flour ready to cook
   yup, looks like flour paste but not white, it is a grey color.
Of course we all had to take a try at the cooking   it was much harder than it looked  Oh the comments from the gentleman behind me when first Danny tried, and then Gary  "There is a definite devision of labour and that is woman's work" or words to that effect.

To eat it you use your hands, taking a small piece from the communal bowl, roll it between your fingers and then make an indent used for scooping the food up with. When served with chicken and beans, it was quite tasty but by itself, like flour paste. 

Dinner is served ...   We ate the chicken. The only ones to come to eat with us were the men, and then only the host men and the head of the village.  The rest sat waiting 

An evening dance/party was held in our honor as we ate dinner. What an experience to observe. Reminded me very much of when we were in Suriname, visiting an interior Maroon village. The women danced together. The men danced together. The young men acted, well like any testosterone riddled young man. They sang, they flirted, they had a fun time. Then at 10pm, everything stopped and everyone was gone in a blink of an eye. Bed time.

The children played, and played, and played. They would come and get supplies and then return them.   Travis' poor banjo, would it ever work again after the strings broke?
They were enthralled to sit and view photos on the computer of animals and other places. They love picture books.  starting with the very young - they were ever so careful with the books.
And throughout it all, the photo taking continued, only as the day progressed, they became more formal or specialized.  all dressed up and not liking it one bit
  The bag that traveled all the way from the US to Africa with things for the village.

And some time for rest 

All too soon our vista came to its conclusion and we were packing to leave in the morning.
Travis wanted to leave by 8am, so ...

Village Life

To be given the opportunity of being unreservably welcomed with open hearts and arms, into a strangers village and treated as family, is rare, and an opportunity that gave us a most unforgettable, memorable experience: One greater than most of our travel experiences. From the bottom of our hearts and with such fond memories, we thank both Travis and his wonderful village family as well as our dear friends Peggy and Gary. With this small representation I hope to be able to give you as well, a glimpse into a little of what we experienced.

**As it is a Peace Corps village no names or location will be given. ***The photos are a compilation from all the cameras in the group. We shared them all. Gary's paintings can be found at

Our first day started with a start - the crowing of the soon to be infamous rooster before the crack of dawn.  I had awoken at times during the night to strangers on the porch with us. Did I see right, goats and chickens cleaning up everything in sight of which there was very little to begin with? Looking around from my position inside the tent,I realized that yes, indeed there were goats wandering around
most certainly chickens,
and children,everywhere children, all standing a little off but there nonetheless, watching us, fascinated. 
The necessities of life led to a quick tour of the "facilities". Nothing less than I had expected: Not far from the house were two huts, one for the shower, equipped with a sun shower, and one for the commode:  Reminded me very quickly of the PC YouTube video Poop in a Hole.

And then coffee and breakfast, our first meal of the day and in the village, scrounging utensils and dishes from wherever. Travis had some of course, and bowls are bowls, regardless of size.
 notice the cooking stove. This is a fascinating piece of equipment - a brazier.  
Each meal was eaten in the same manner, regardless of what we ate or who supplied it.
The children always sat on the periphery watching us, without so much as a word or a request for us to share.

Each of us was captivated and enthralled by the kids. Happy! Smiling! and full of fun. You could hear their sense of humor even though we could not understand what they were saying. And they hung around us the whole time. They didn't need entertaining, just acknowledgement and once they got used to us and our ways, our cameras and Gary's painting. 

A trip out to see the workings of the village.  They do tilapia farming and this in turn, needs fresh running water at all times. So, build a dam ...
Everyone pitches in and has specific roles.
 Directing the workings

 everything is done by brute strength

 gathering sand from the stream to make the cement. This involved washing out the black soil if it was inadvertently gotten

 assembly line of sand buckets, all sizes and shapes
  a meeting was held
as honorary "parents" Gary & Peg were then honored. Peg, being the "mother" got the chicken.  After much talk and guffawing, it was decided to cook it tomorrow and invite others. It also would give us a chance to see schima in the making.
Throughout the day many photo opportunities presented themselves...

  sometimes we got a little too exuberant
 We were asked to take photos of whole family groups
   It was an honor to be allowed to have our photos taken with the villagers
Some people came in from out side of the village to be presented to us and to visit.  

We had brought gifts for the villagers, including skipping ropes for the kids. Not only did the kids enjoy them, so did the adults. Of course, we had to try them out ourselves.

 Travis' namesake, "little Travis" and his father, Travis' host bro.

We knew we had been accepted, the women sat up the hair salon as they "visited/watched"
 It looks so simple,
 but Gary will attest to the fact that it isn't.

Our host, Travis' host mom.

By the end of the day we were beat. What a day it had been. Time for showering/baths. Danny and I opted to bath in the river while Peggy & Gary opted for the sun shower.

Oh my, but this is getting long. On to the next page ...