Monday, September 28, 2009

Makeni night life

I had quite an exciting weekend here in Makeni and had the opportunity to sample some of the night life, which was fun. We went out both Friday and Saturday nights though, so I’m a little sleepy today. That, and the lack of coffee. Heidi and KK are still in the process of setting up their kitchen as they just moved into their house, so until Saturday there was no way to cook or heat anything. Saturday we got some coal for the coal pot, so on Sunday I attempted to use the coal pot to boil water. This, apparently, is harder than it sounds, because I was unsuccessful. I don’t know what I was doing wrong, maybe not enough coal or not lighting it properly, but the water never boiled, although it did get hot. I couldn’t get enough heat going to boil it I guess. Because it was well water I didn’t want to drink it without having boiled it for a few minutes, so I just gave up on the coffee. I’ll need to get a proper lesson in how to light the coal pot some time. Anyways, I’m looking forward to getting back to having my morning java back in Mapaki, even if it is instant :-)

On Saturday Heidi and KK and their friends threw a big party for another friend, Rabia, who was leaving Sierra Leone the next day after spending a year here as a VSO volunteer. We borrowed a barbeque (not a gas bbq, just a big barrel cut in half and filled with coal) and spent the day preparing food. The main event for the meal was a goat. The goat was bought that morning and tied up in the corner of the yard for a while before he was turned into supper. I think that’s probably the closest I’ve ever been to meat that was alive before I ate it :-) It was tasty though! There was a ton of food at the party, lots of different things, which was great. About 20 or so people came and everyone brought something. We ate a lot, but there were a lot of leftovers as well. Unfortunately because there is no way to preserve things (i.e. no fridge) a lot of the leftovers were wasted.

During the party we had quite an audience. The party was out in the front yard of the house. The gate to the compound is just bars rather than a solid gate, so you can see into the yard if you are standing outside the gate. We are often visited by children coming over to stare at and to talk to us. The night of the party there were at least 10 or 12 kids standing around outside looking in. It’s a bit disconcerting. Every time someone would tell them to get lost, they would leave but then come back after a few minutes. Eventually it got late and they went home, but we had an audience for most of the night. We would have liked to give them some of the leftover food, but didn’t for several reasons: first of all, it just perpetuates the stereotype that white people have food (or money, or other things) and they will give it to you if you hang around them enough. Also, because there were so many children, with more near by, giving out food to some would most likely have caused a bit of a ruckus and there may not have been enough food for everyone.

Once the BBQ portion of the evening was over, we went out dancing. There are two “clubs” in Makeni, Apex and Flamingos. Apex is bigger and nicer and is part of the Wussum hotel (the one with the pool) and Flamingos is a more local kind of a place. On Friday night we went to Flamingos, and Saturday to Apex. The dancing was a lot of fun! The music was pop, but they played mostly Sierra Leonean and Nigerian music (same at Flamingos). I am getting to know some of the most popular songs now and am going to try to track some down to bring home with me. The bars felt similar to clubs at home, except for a few things. The group I was with were the only white people there of course. Also, many people dance by themselves (less common to see this in Canada), and people of the same sex dance together. Girls dancing together is common in Canada as well of course, but you’d never see guys dancing together in the same way that you do here. You also often see men holding hands here. This is not considered a sign that they are gay or romantically involved in any way. Perhaps this is because homosexuality is so totally hidden and taboo here. Anyways, the dancing was a lot of fun. We stayed out very late though, so Sunday was spent mostly lying around being lazy. I am still a little tired today (Monday), but not sure if that is related to the lack of caffeine or actually being tired, since I slept pretty well last night.

Two more Krio lessons today and tomorrow and then I’m heading back to Mapaki on Tuesday. One of the things that I have enjoyed about being in Makeni is becoming more comfortable doing things on my own. There has been more opportunity here for me to go to shops, the office, out to eat, etc. by myself, and I feel quite comfortable doing that now. Makes me feel more at home in the country, which is good. I’m sure I’ll be down in Makeni for the occasional weekend, but for now I’m looking forward to going back to my quiet village life in Mapaki tomorrow. I will be taking some food treats from Makeni back with me though – crackers, laughing cow cheese, hot chocolate powder and soya sauce (for those days I don’t feel like eating the plasa (sauce) that is available). The cheese especially will be a nice treat – there is very little dairy here because of the lack of refrigeration.

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