Thursday, April 17, 2014

Barren Becoming Fallow

        When I look through my bedroom window, I see a house’s concrete skeleton, adults and children ambling in the heat, and brown – yellow dirt expanses pockmarked by trash. By the time I moved to Mango last November, the rains had left and the fields were finished around my quarter. I’ve never known this space any way but how it exists today. Recently, however, unseasonably early storms have invited small green patches to break up the monotonous paysage. With grasses and weeds sporadically growing again, the farmers will follow with crops in a few weeks. This land, that’s seemed so arid and dead, is alive again. Perma-barren was fallow all along: fertility accumulating underground, waiting for the weather to change. Bettering itself as life comes closer by the day, a fecund renewal for the community and everyone in it. My own potential energy, recently building as I reconnect with work and hobbies, is feeling more kinetic. I’m moving more, laughing more, meditating more, and feeling more like myself than I have in ages. My final chaleur is coming to pass, and one last rainy season is about to begin. And then, return, autumn in America. Hopefully thriving in the harvest of whatever my service has sown. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Outsider on Repeat

At the Post Office

“Excuse me, the bus is over three hours late at this point, can we change our tickets or get a refund?”

“Can’t you just wait? It’s close and will be here very soon.”

“That’s what you said hours ago, we don’t want to travel at night.”

“Well, I have to get the director on the phone.” Dials the phone, obviously irritated 
“Director? I have two white people here who are having problems.”

The Mt. Agou Elderly Woman

“May I take your photo?”

“Of course.” frame the image and take a wonderful profile shot

“Thank you so much, look how well that turned out.” show the image, she nods

“What are you going to give me now?”


“100 franc, candy, something. Where’s my gift?”

“I don’t have anything for you…”

“That’s no good, in Africa you give something for photos.”

“Next time?”

She looks away, obviously irritated.

In the Market with a Friend

“Excuse me Madame, how much is this frying pan?”

“That pan, it’s 6,000.”

“Really? That’s too expensive, please reduce the price.”

“I can’t, that’s THE price.”

He looks at the pan more closely, flipping it over
“The price written on the bottom of your pan is 3,700.”

Embarrassed laughter, then straight face  “So, I can sell it to you for 4,000.”

At a Tchakpa Stand

“Hey, white man, can I get your address?”

“Sure, I live near the primary school by the kapokie tree if you’d ever like to meet.”

“No, no, no. I want your address chez vous. In your country.”

“But I live here now, you won’t be able to contact me in the US.”

“I don’t want to talk to you now. I want to contact you when you go home.”


“How about your computer address then?”


An Acquaintance on my Porch

“Who does your cooking and cleaning here?”

“I do, they’re nice ways to pass the time.”

“That’s not good, you need to get a woman to do those things. I will find you one.”

“No, I’m fine really. I like cooking and cleaning.”

“What about your pleasure? You need a woman for pleasure.”

“I’m happy on my own, REALLY.”

“You’re bizarre.”

Looking at T – Shirts

“Hey, white man, how are you?”

“I’m good, you?”

“Good. And your woman?”

“…she’s fine.”

“That’s not true. You don’t have a woman!”

Nervously laughing “Of course I do, she’s just back in the US right now.”

“No you don’t.”


“If you had a woman, you wouldn’t be good because she’d be at this market spending all your money!” Laughing and smiling

Crisis averted, smiling politely “Yes, she would be shopping. Women love to shop.” 
My inner feminist isn't pleased.