Today started early, then ended early. We were down at the market at 6:30 am, ready to meet Wasso so he could take us up there. He found us after a little bit and then we got into a taxi bus and headed up the road. This time we were stuck in the back of the bus. We found out that Taylor doesn’t fit in the seats. I’m not saying it’s uncomfortable for him; his legs are literally too long to fit between the seats. So he had to get in the very back seat with his feet in the “aisle” where other seats without backs to them fold down. It was hot and crowded, but it’s the Congolese way, and this week, we are Congolese.
When we got to the house, we were welcomed inside for some breakfast. We had grits and rolls. I guess grits is a bit of a specialty, because you have to put sugar in it, and sugar is not cheap. This meal is not one they have every day; it was a treat. After breakfast, they put us to work.
I went into the kitchen again to help cook. This time the kitchen was moved to a little hut next to the house. It had one small window and an open door, so there wasn’t much light, but there was enough for what we were doing. One of the ladies asked me to cut up an onion. And really, it’s an easy chore in the states, but here in Africa, they don’t use cutting boards. They showed me how to hold the onion, and cut it in my hands. My second day of doing this, I did alright. I still have all of my fingers, and I cut it to their satisfaction, I think. But I don’t speak Swahili. And actually, I speak enough to understand that I did okay.
After a bit of cooking and cutting and sorting, a young girl and an older woman told me I was going to “Soko ya Kadutu” (Kadutu Market) with them. We grab our basket and off we go, on a hike up the mountain, then back down the mountain. It was a long walk, too. I was winded. The old lady did it like it was no problem. Our first stop was right outside the market to buy macala (coal). We chose the best bag of coal, which was HUGE, paid for it, then this old lady came over to bring it to the house for us. I’m not talking about a small bag of charcoal like you get in the states either. It was about as tall as me. And heavier. And ONE little lady was going to put it on her back and make the hike to our house. They work so hard, it really amazes me.
After buying the macala, we went into the busy part of the market. We stopped first in the fresh meat section. And I mean FRESH. There was meat just lying on the tables, bloody. Pig heads were hanging above some merchants, a cow carcass was laying behind another, and it reeked! But we picked out the meat we wanted and went through the clothes and perfume and shoes and whatever else non perishable you can think of, and went to more of a produce area. We bought some tomatoes and onions, then stopped to a talk to a lady about buying chickens. Live chickens. They just handle them like they aren’t living either. Haha. They picked them up by their feet felt their legs, chest, butt, everything, just checking to see how much meat was on them. We bought two, shoved them in the basket then turned to go on our way. At that point, I was done carrying the basket. So the girl I was with put them on top of her head and we started back up the hill. A few minutes later, one of the chickens pooped. Whoops. All over her shoulder. At least it wasn’t all over her face. Gross. After we started on the hike back, we stopped to buy lenge lenge, a crop similar to sombe, only it tastes better.
When we made it back, I was a bit tired, so they grabbed a chair for me and I sat in the shade with Taylor and the kids. A few of the kids were pounding sombe, and one lady was cutting up onions to put in it, so I got to watch how that was done, and I got to interact with the kiddos.
Lunchtime came shortly after. We had rice, beans, sombe, fish, and goat intestine! I got everything except the goat, and Taylor got everything except the fish. I guess the intestine of the goat is quite a delicacy here, but I couldn’t bring myself to try it. Taylor only got a little piece of it, but he ate it! We sat and talked for a little bit over lunch, then we went back outside. I went back into the kitchen and Taylor went to play with the kids and cause fujo (chaos).
I ended up helping pull the leaves off of the lenge lenge we bought, and after a bit, they told me I could go outside because it was hot in the kitchen. So I went out and played with the kids a little bit. After a while, it was time to go because the rain was coming. It was about 2:30 when we got home, which is really early for us to be sent back, but Wasso knows best.
Both days so far I have come straight home and wanted a shower. Today, of course, there was no water. So I had to wait a little bit. Brenda told me I have a slight case of culture shock. I don’t doubt it. I just felt dirty from walking through the super crowded market and sweating all day. I am Congolese this week, but the American need to shower still comes out. I will proudly admit it. Hi, my name is Bonnie, and I have culture shock. No problem.
Alright, you heard my side, now here is Bwana Fujo with his experience of day 2.
Our second day started with some nice grits (yes I like em a lot). This isn’t customary breakfast, but we assume they served it because we were there (really wish their hospitality wasn’t so good, It is normally a treat for them to have this). After eating I changed into shorts. This way I had a little cooler dress while we repaired the fence surrounding their house. The fence wasn’t chain link or anything. It was an awesome stick fence. It was made from sticks, none bigger than my wrist and most a little larger than a broom stick. The larger sticks were pounded in the ground and used as the main anchor points for the rest. Horizontal cross beams (still sticks) were fastened to them using wire (thanks to muh brother for my Leatherman) and then the smaller broom sticks were fastened to these and pounded into the ground. Only a few of the sticks were any significant depth in the ground, so when rain would come, and people would lean/touch them, the fence would lean. On the left of their house (when you are facing it coming in the gate) a 15 foot section had collapsed. The sticks were leaning in towards their house and many were gone. We repaired that side and the front side in a few hours.
After we did this, there was time enough for a game of Congolese checkers, which I horribly lost at. But I got my honor back by beating him in American checkers (but I didn’t dominate him the way he did me). At lunch I tried some goat intestine, and I didn’t even taste it. The beans were fantastic, but my mind didn’t like the idea of what I ate (I worked myself up too much). After lunch it was language time. I was promptly tested by Rachelle on my numbers, I passed, ish. (I have come to learn that the way I say their number eight, I am actually saying Fat Lady, so it gives them a nice laugh when I count). I then learned and recorded a sweet song about Swallihi. I will hopefully retain this and will sing it upon request when we return. It was great to be surrounded by kids and rejoice and have a good time with them.
It was even better to glance over and see the whole of Wasso’s family laughing at the crazy muzungo.
Because they live in a valley, when it rains it is not only dangerous for people there, but it is near impossible to leave. So it being the rainy season here, it rains every day. Sadly it seems our days are going to be cut short due to rain. We had to leave about 2 ish. I really love African culture, though I do love American culture (the one I create lol) as well. Home is a little on my mind, but Africa is on my heart AND mind… lol.
Pray for us as God continues to guide and bless us. Thanks.