A few days ago, my friend Domingus's daughter asked if I would accompany her to school in a nearby village. I agreed. All day building relationship with a future friend? Of course I'll go! Well, the day came (yesterday), and let me tell you... I did a whole lot more than accompany her to school!
We arrived by car to a neighboring village and started walking. A little while in, we stopped to visit her sister who is currently living with another family. "Barraka - i ka moitu lungu" Rosa (Domingus's daughter) told me as we started walking again. Mbe! Let me just say that I am glad I had good shoes on.
We walked on tiny little paths, jumped over streams of water and through some brush to get to this village - eating wild fruits and snapping leaves along the way. At one point, I fell off the log that we used to cross an irrigation dike and ended up in nearly waist deep water in the bilania (rice field).
We walked a total of 1 1/2 hours to get to this village. I set my backpack down, and we started off again to go see her school and visit her sick grandma. I really couldn't help but think of the Christmas song "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go."... only there's no snow... just 80 degree weather and high humididty. We walked for another 45 minutes until we reached the school. I met all of her friends, jumbai-ed (English-Creolese for "hung out") with her grandma, and returned to her house.
I watched some of the boys of the house slaughter a chicken in my honor. Later, I enjoyed a snack of chicken intestine and much later, had bianda (rice) with chicken meat. This was the family's only meal of the day, (and it would have been just plain rice) but because I was there, they went all out and slaughtered a chicken, and bought oil and pepper and garlic for cooking. I was honored, but felt guilty at the same time, knowing that they over-extended themselves financially to feed me this meal. After the bianda was finished, they brought out the "extra" chicken meat and insisted that I eat it all by myself.
We spent hours jumbai-ing on the veranda, watching it pour rain. I was beginning to think that I might have to stay the night, when the rain stopped. Many people accompanied Rosa and me for about 45 minutes of our journey back. I fell off the same log into the bilania again. Everyone laughed and then left Rosa and me to finish our voyage. It was about 6:45 when I returned to Catel... with tired legs, a full mind, and a happy heart.
Thank you Jesus for the surprise adventure, and for the flexibility to enjoy my adventure.
Many details of my adventure have been lost to the depths of my head, but here are some pictures that I will share with you all so you can get a sense of where I was.
This is my friend Rosa and me at the beginning of our journey.
One view of the bilania as we were walking. The path here was like a foot wide.
Some kids walking just ahead of us to go harvest rice. The path that we were on eventually led us to the thick bush you see ahead.
We are still walking...
On the way to the see the school: These kids came running when I pulled out my camera. Maybe you can spot the others far in the background.
And.... They've arrived! Forget smiling. They just wanted their picture taken.
Lastly, here is the compound where Rosa lives while she comes to school. The girl in the picture is Rosa's cousin or niece or somehow related.
And that completes my adventure! Te lugu!