Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Spin Around Town

Sometimes my head spins with everything I encounter here in Freetown. A few items: A taxi abandoned in the middle of the road with a front tire completely off its axle and bearing a white card with a red L signifying the absent driver as a learner. The apprentice who climbs on top of the poda-poda to hold down sheets of plywood while the poda-poda is racing along the rough dirt road to Goderich. The screams of a child being beaten with a stick inside a house. Children eagerly eating dry cornmeal by the handful. The first avocadoes of the season. Mangoes twice the size I've ever seen them before and deliciously sweet. A beautiful full-moon evening on the beach. Crowds of toddlers and small children rushing at me on my walk home to hug me around the knees and thighs. Calls of, "White woman," "White baby," "American baby," and even "White man," following me down just about any street I walk. Dogs barking by the dozens in the middle of the night. The rumble of large generators. The sirens of the president's motorcade that clear traffic for him twice a day as he makes his way to and from work in his black SUV with the window down so he can wave to his people. Children selling water in plastic bags by calling, "Col wa ta de," as they weave in and out of traffic in the middle of a school day. The "characters" or innards floating in my goat pepper soup. Teenaged girls in sexy outfits walking up and down Lumley Beach Road in the middle of the night and getting into cars with men who pull up beside them. Garbage just about everywhere. A lovely cool breeze in the middle of a hot day. "Please, madam, sit up front," from the driver's apprentice on the poda-poda. "Ah de flog you!" from a boy armed with thin dry reeds he and his friends have gathered and with which they adorn themselves for pretend battle as they march past me. "Suzanne! How much o'clock we can come?" from the little girl in my compound who wants to visit me later in the day. The smile of a child who has been sick and is now better after a little care.

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