Sunday, February 14, 2010

Over the river and through the mountains...

St. Theresa Mission is nestled in the mountains, a two hour walk from my village. The children living here walk there and back every day. I was eager to visit.

One boy offered to come gather me in the morning so we could walk together, as it was my first visit.

"What time?" I ventured. Usually school is the one area where one could be clear about schedule, as the morning assemblies are around 8am. He replied confidently.


That night I set my alarm for 5:30am, thinking it was fully enough time to prepare my bucket bath, dress, eat breakfast, teach some math, and do my dishes. I couldn't sleep well. It was serenely quiet... I felt completely safe... perhaps it was the excitement of visiting the school, but from 12 - 3am I was wide awake reading. Finally, I forced myself to try to sleep again.

The next moment my phone alarm was buzzing. I drowsily turned it off, stayed in bed a few minutes, and eventually got up to heat the water.

A knock at the door and a tentative, 'Me?'

I went to see who it was. And of course, there he was. Ready to go.

"Abuti, are you walking to school now?" I demanded, standing in my pajamas and hair sprouting from all directions. He smiled, then realizing the state of affairs, he covered his mouth. He looked off in the direction of St. Theresa, imperceptibly nodded, and put both hands on the straps of his backpack as if to say 'Let's go, lady'.

"You said 6:30am! It is 5:30am!" I show him the hour with my hands. It's no use. "You are leaving now??" He nods again, maintaining his position.

"Acch! Achh! I cannot leave with you. Look at me, Abuti!"

He nods in understanding.

"Acch! Abuti, you told me 6:30am!" I am smiling as I repeat my line of defense. I do not want to walk alone, but I cannot be ready to join him soon enough for his departure.

"Well, then, tsamaea hantle! I'll see you there." Go well.

He gallops off. I've wasted his valuable minutes with my hemming and hawing. I will find my way...

1 comment:

  1. Love it! That seems to be the African way! I've just returned from Senegal where my colleague did the same thing to me. Told me he would pick me up at 8:30 and showed at 8am, forcing to scramble to get dressed like a mad woman. The previous week, he told me he would arrive at 6:15 to 6:30am so we could head to the airport and he arrived minutes to 7 and we had a 8am departure! We made our flight. Did you make it to school?