11 November 2007

day 11 :: review

A few days ago, I heard an inordinate amount of squawking. There really shouldn’t need to be that much squawking involved in the killing of one chicken, which is all we need(ed) to feed ourselves at the compound in Tilt. Then I saw a pile of chicken feathers far too big to be one chicken.

“Exactly how many chickens are they killing?” I asked my colleague.

“Ten.” He answered.


As it turns out, for me. Not for me to eat, but for a party in honor of me. They were trying to keep the existence of an actual party something of a surprise, but the squawking gave things away.

Someone rode a bike into town and borrowed a big stereo, which arrived tied to the back rack of the bicycle, and four tapes of African dance music. Someone else made a long trail of power strips from my tukul to the table set in the middle of the compound. The cooks made ten chickens, two Nile perch, and a pan of rice so large that they had to empty some of it into another container in order to carry it.

It was a full-on African party. I always feel a need to bring something when I’m invited to parties, but that doesn’t happen in Africa. In Africa, the host provides everything and you come empty-handed. And you expect to eat a lot and drink a lot. (I had a friend who threw a party in Rwanda once and realized afterwards that she had gone through eight (HUGE) beers per person. And she caught some people bringing in empty bottles so that they could take full ones home with them. Hilarious.)

We danced around in the middle of the compound, all of us, including the cooks and the guards. The very old guard held his stick in his hands as he danced. We ate and drank. There were speeches and jokes, and even the weather cooperated – cool, without rain.

The only slight little flaw in all the perfection was knowing that it marked the end. In the morning, nearly packed, I was loaded down with envelopes to bring to Juba, to Nairobi, to the US. I gave away one pair of shoes and my gumboots and a few of my shirts, although not enough to make the cooks happy. And I rode away from a place I thought I would never love but somehow, I did, in the end.

1 comment:

traci said...

another great post, marie. seriously, you need to do something with this writing. i'm going to have to put my foot down.