22 October 2008

AIDS Ride Chapter 5: in which people are very welcoming

22 October 2008

We had to do some back tracking for our sensibilisations on Wednesday. My group did the long stretch first – heading to a tiny village to do a sensib first at the CEG and then for the chief and notables of the village. Halfway through the presentation, a chicken started squawking and three men jumped up with sticks and coupe-coupes. I was surprised that they would kill a chicken just for interrupting us ... a homologue explained that a snake had just snatched the chick. The men thrashed around in the bush for a bit then skewered the snake on a stick and started bringing it toward us so we could see. The chief (who was adorably toothless) ordered them to leave it; the yovos could check it out after the presentation.
To begin, we did an odd ceremony where the chiefs and three notables came over to where we were seated in front of the gathering, they walked down the line of our group, shaking hands. Then they went and sat down on their benches and we walked over to them to shaking their hands and repeat the greeting. Bizarre. At the end, a few men brought out drums and grabbed our hands to invite us into the dance. When we begged off after a while, saying we had to go, they brought us over to the chief’s house where they’d made a delicious lunch for us (ablo, chicken and sauce) and served us bottles of soda (obviously not cold, the electricity doesn’t get this far out en brousse.)
Thus stuffed, we quickly snapped some shots of the rudely interrupting snake and slowly took the final 9km to D’s village where we would spend the night. We had a good amount of time to hang out and cool off (and use the latrine) before the afternoon sensibs.
D likes to keep busy at site so when he doesn’t have a project going on with villagers, he plays around with projects in his house. For example: abstract paintings on the wall, an hourglass made out of plastic water bottles, sand and duct tape that measures out approximately 15 seconds (depending on how big the chunks of sand are). His crowning achievement, however, is a large pot set up to boil water using a magnifying glass. Despite hours of patient observation, he has yet to achieve boiling temperature.
Our evening community sensib didn’t really work – too little light, too much noise. But the gathering did serve as a brilliant place for the village chief to present a speech encouraging each volunteer to adopt a local village as a “twin” with a city back home to aid in development and understanding. It was a lovely little speech and he made copies for each volunteer to take with them.



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