Monday, December 18, 2006

You know you're in West Africa when...

I think that when you live somewhere else for long enough, you start to adapt to it - no matter how different it is from what you're used to - and begin to stop noticing some of the differences. We've been in Africa for four months, and many days I am used to everything that happens. There are still some things that happen every once in a while that make you realize "hey, I'm in Africa" again. A few of those things have happened recently so I thought I'd share them with you.

First, I woke up at midnight a few nights ago to the sound of tribal drums and chanting. This may happen in your neighborhood too, but it wasn't something I was used to in Michigan. It was a funeral and they were still going at 1:30 when I fell back asleep. Pockets of people from different tribes live in different areas of Bissau, so tribal ceremonies aren't all that uncommon, but this one was loud enough to wake me up (even though I'm sure it was blocks away).

The second thing that happened recently was that our neighbors (in the other side of our duplex) got a goat. This also is not uncommon, our "street" is like a petting zoo - various neighbors own chickens, pigs, ducks, dogs, and other assorted things that are all loose and go wherever they want. This seems quite normal, actually. I'm not sure if any of you have ever been around a goat for very long, but they are loud. It could be that goats are naturally whiny, or that this one isn't being fed, but it bleats before we wake up and is bleating most nights when we fall asleep. (Too bad goats can't seem to get soar throats.) The house is surrounded by a tall wall and the two sides of the duplex are divided by a shorter wall, and since the goat lives inside the wall, the bleating echoes off of the wall and gets louder before coming in our house, lol. To make matters worse, one of their kids (human) the other day was teasing the kid (goat) by mimicking the bleating which only made the goat bleat louder, lol. Anyway, it's not the most annoying thing we've run into (their rooster is much worse), but we were glad this week when the time came for us to move out of the duplex into the apartment above our teammates' house which was vacated when Thomas went back to the States on Wednesday. (Pictures of the new diggs next time, for now here's the goat.)

The third thing is satisfyingly related to the second, which is that we ate goat (unfortunately not the same one) for the first time early this week. We were invited over to dinner at the house of one of Emily's english students (who is somewhat famous for great dinner parties), so we were excited. The first thing we ate were grilled shrimp with spicy lemon sauce (a great combination!) that still had the heads on them. Em almost lost it, hehe... The lights were dim (using candles since the city light wasn't on) so I don't think she realized what was on the end of the shrimp until Thomas said something when she jump/twitched so much she dropped it on the ground and could barely pick it back up, lol. Anyway, they were really good. Next we had squid salad, which was also tasty. The only squid I've had in the States is fried calamari, which doens't resemble squid much after it's been fried so long - fresh squid is a different deal. The different parts of the squid are different textures, so you'd get one bite from the body that was chewy, and then in the next forkfull you'd eat a tentacle which was a little crunchier. :) For dinner we had something like goat pot roast over rice (everything here is over rice - actually it's more like rice with a little of something else on top). The goat was really good! I've been craving pot roast recently anyway, so that may have something to do with my evaluation of the goat, but it was like tastier beef. Very tender too. I'm a fan!

Ok, I have some wilder stories to tell when we get back, but for now this is all I have time to tell! I hope everyone is having a good Christmas season!

No comments: