Monday, July 8, 2013

Some essential stuff I learned in Africa I

My daughter and her husband are in Congo. Thus I started thinking about the missions to Africa I was lucky enough to do for my job. And I have realized a long time ago that each time I learned a valuable life lesson. My first trip was to Togo. In the hotel lobby I bought a map of the city. And walking I tried to find my way but got terribly confused. And suddenly I saw that there were no street names on the map. I ask about that in the shop. The young man replied: Well, every time there is a revolution they change the names of the streets. So we decided to just print the map without the names. So if ever a local would need a map, they would recognize the lay out of the city and know where to go. They would have a far better mental map. Another thing happened: I had decided on a free afternoon to take the 'taxi de brousse' and check out the next town Anexo. It was a nice clean van for about 15 people. There was a double row and a single row of chairs. I sat down in the single row behind an elderly, well groomed gentleman. Behind me two young man were discussing, almost getting into an argument. They spoke the local language but also parts in French. Suddenly one yells to the other "Mais vous, vous ĂȘtes un raciste!" (You, you are a racist!). The old gentleman turns towards me and says delicately: "On ne parle pas de vous Madame." (They are not speaking about you, Misses.) To think about the feelings of a perfect stranger and to put her at ease was a great gift for all the following Missions I did. I never was afraid and trusted in the general goodness of mankind. Well we took off to Anexo, I visited the local market and bought two simple but really pretty clay bowls., I heard the town cryer and happened on a fight. I kept my distance, didn't join the people watching. And then the long wait, darkness descending rapidly and not at all being sure I was at the right place to wait. The taxi came, well it was a pick up truck, loaded with women with chickens, with big bag of homemade soap, with a young man of the American peace corps. They all squeezed a bit more together and I was taken on board... Wonderful first experiences.

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