Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A house without a view, a boy without a home.

A house without a view-
A boy without a home.

Greeting to everyone I apologize for the many agonizing weeks you all have had to endure without any word or any significant updates. In America time flies. In Niger life stands still. Little every changes, but, the days blur so quickly that I begin to note the passing time by the cycle of the moon rather than by each passing day. Even though it seems that my accomplishments are feeble and minute since most of my time has only been spent to prepare for my eventual post. I’ve noticed considerable changes in myself which I anticipate will only intensify when actually placed in my village.
Which brings me to where I am now.

Currently my back is against the wall here….literally. I’m at the Maradi Hostel, leaning on a wall and trying not to move at all. Movement equals sweat; sweat equals loss of hydration and energy, loss of these two means nothing happens. Lost yet….?

My evasive point. I am not at my new village!! Why? Well lend me your ear, or I guess in this case you eyes and time and I’ll tell you a story about a boy without a home.

Yesterday morning began as all mornings should when a new volunteer was awoken by the 0545 prayer call and says to himself “God thanks for sending me the most reliable alarm clock in the world.” Nothing wakes the anti-morning man like a devoutly religious old crow excuse for a man who ka-caws a terribly crackled sound from a loud speaker blaring “Allah Akbar!” “Allah Akbar!”,….and then after enduring through the five minutes of ensuing confessions of allah’s greatness one can either fine tune one’s ability to ignore it, or say “By God” I think I’ll get up and do something now.” Islam is a very functional religion. Maybe that’s the point?
So the little boy arose bright eyed and motivated because this was the day our little hero was to be placed in his new village. Dan Saga…..HooooRAYYYYYY!!!! But little did we know of the impending drama to unfold!!!!! So by seven our protagonist was loaded into the truck and off he went meeting all the regional dignitaries in his amazing second hand boo-boo. (which dazzled many over the Nigerien TV airwaves it should be said)
While approaching his new village the butterflies in his stomach fluttered, his imagination wondered, and dreams of his future home satisfied many of his curiosities. In essence today was to be the beginning of the rest of his life. This was to be the culmination of years of daydreaming, years of hard work, and many years of patience, finally his day had come. Or so he thought.
Inching through the sandy and shaded paths of Dan Saga, his Africanized Land Cruiser was chased after by laughing children while the adult citizens of Dan Saga raised both their arms above their shoulders in triumph and gave their blessed greetings. Today their new volunteer had come. A day of rejoice for all.
The anticipation was feverish, and the satisfaction of rounding the corner and meeting the welcoming party while running through the gambant of typical Nigerien greetings with his new friends was magical. However, the time to nestle into a new home was meant for another day. One this day only half the equation was written the greeting party was in full form, the home however was not. Devastated by this new development, his dream of living in Africa was going to have to wait for another day.

Each passing moment in Niger is an opportunity to learn something about oneself, or the people who inhabit this wonderful continent. In the Sahel life is supported by the available elements, homes are made from earthen materials dug by the hands of men. The earthen Nigerien communal networks are simple but functional, and take the support of the whole community to construct. Unfortunately similar to all places in the world when it comes to work some within the community work and finish their parts, while others slack and leave their responsibilities unfinished and leave others in wait. In this case me.
As mentioned the villagers were over rejoiced in the young mans arrival, however the Peace Corps staff was not amused by their efforts, and they immediately pulled the distinguished chief to the side berated him about the villages’ lack of ko’kari “effort” and said if his house wasn’t built within the week they would not be receiving a volunteer. So against the volunteer’s will “well some pretty good acting” he was pulled away from the people and taken back to Maradi where now time is spent laying in wait and attempting to pass the heat of the day while watching a movie and hydrating for my bike ride to the hajji shop to grab some fix’ns for tonight’s dinner.
Tonight the meal will be fried tuna cakes with pasta marinara. “Hopefully” Cooking in Niger is always an exercise in creativity and experimentation since we often lack pretty much all the frivolous items such as cheese, butter, and milk. Which for those of you in the know of our wayfaring waifs culinary prowess you can be rest assured that once again at the end of the world, he is once again feeling at home.
In short, if a village wants a volunteer their responsibility is to provide a home, a hole in the ground for dirty business, and a space reserved for bathing. In return they receive the privilege of having a person living with them for the next two years whose primarily is to learn from them and attempt to make their lives better.
This boy has no home, but a view of the world that never ceases to amaze him. The End.

Wayfaring Peacefully.

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