Monday, February 18, 2008

Here I am, back from amazing adventures in Nanou. We returned at six last night, somewhat sunburned and tired, and very happy to be back. It was a great trip and I’m glad we got to do it. It almost got cancelled. It’s a long story:

Eldest Daughter went to a birthday party Friday night, which was nice. Nice for her, I mean. I had the unenviable task of staying up until midnight to go fetch her. And my days of staying up late for fun are long past, thank you very much.

Sev and I put on a new Film Crew movie that we just got from the USA (Thanks, Mom and Dad!), but even that wasn’t enough to keep me awake.
By 10:30, I quit fighting it and went to lay down in bed. I set the alarm and drifted off for an hour. At 11:30, I jumped into the station wagon, feeling much better. But soon, I felt a lot worse. The car, bought at so much expense and with such great hopes only a few months back, was making a noise. A weird noise. A bad, weird noise that was VERY unwelcome, as I had a busy day ahead on Saturday and a big trip to the bush planned for Sunday.

I listened intently as I drove, trying to figure out what it could be. It wasn’t an engine-y thing. It was definitely a sound from underneath the car. A steering-y thing? I soon gave up, as I am completely useless with cars. May as well ask Aslan the Wonder Goat what was wrong with it.

I was pretty concerned, but kept driving. I figured that if it broke down completely, I could use my cell phone and call for a rescue.
Luckily, it wasn’t very far to the party. Eldest Daughter was glad to see me and expressed amazement that I hadn’t gotten lost trying to find the place in the dark - which (sadly) would not have been beyond the realm of possibility, but I had had that all covered. I’d cleverly brought along the invitation, which had the phone number written on it, so that I could call for further directions if I went astray. Well, it would have been a clever plan…but as my daughter spoke, I realised that I’d left my cell phone at home. Typical. It certainly made the drive home more stressful, as getting help would be quite complicated. There are no phone booths in Burkina Faso.

As we drove, she told me all about the party. She also told me about the huge porn movie scare at her school! Short version: some 6th grade boys(11-12 years old) were joking around a couple of weeks ago and said that they were going to make a pornographic film. Which is very scary. I don’t know what kind of lives they have that, at their age, they 1. know what a porn film is and 2. think it sounds funny. Anyway, some of the girls heard about it and apparently thought it was for real. Rumours flew around the school. Finally, it ended with upset parents calling the school. One parent reported that she’d heard the boys had made up a list of girls that were going to be in the film. The already huge scandal swelled and became gigantic.
The boys were called in and said it was “just a joke”. They have been suspended from school for a few days. And I guess they had a good talking to.
The Superintendent (Proviseur) had the teachers read a letter to every class in the school about “respect for human dignity, the psychological health of children, etc”.

So, Eldest Daughter told me all this, then she also mentioned that they’d be having a “sex education” talk at the school at the end of the year.
“I heard about it. They show you how to put a condom on a banana;” she said. “I didn’t know fresh fruits were so dangerous that you need protection. I’m going to be more careful at breakfast from now on!”
She’s a funny girl, even at midnight, long after my brain has shut down.

The car got us home just fine, but I knew I’d have to get someone to look at it right away if I wanted to be ready for the trip to Nanou early Sunday morning. I woke up early and got the twins ready for school. Yes, they had to be at school on Saturday morning- it was the day of the big Carnival show!. Like usual, I had volunteered to be one of the “helper moms”- getting kids into their costumes and makeup. As I’m lucky enough to have a driver, I had him drop us off at the school and then he continued on to the mechanic. I was really hoping that the weird noise would turn out to be a simple, inexpensive weird noise. If the car couldn’t be fixed quickly, Sunday’s village trip would have to be cancelled. And there would be no re-scheduling. This was the last weekend that JP would have free, as he would be travelling and wouldn’t be back in Burkina until May 3. By then, it would be too late, as contacting the sprits is a dry season activity. May is too late.

Anyway, the car went off and I went into Mal’s class, where the kids were getting dressed like painters and as the subjects of Great Paintings. Well, I guess they were Great Paintings. I hadn’t heard of any of them, and I am an art fan. Not like I regularly haul out big piles of art and stand around admiring it, but I have been to the Louvre, like, five times. (NB- If my blog were associated with the AFN, I'd make that "The French Louvre", so you wouldn't get it mixed up with the Louvre of, say, Northern Indiana). I didn’t recognise the paintings.

So, there were kids with big white shirts on, straw hats and lots of paint stains- that was the artists. The others were dressed like card players, cyclists, African women carrying gourds, baskets, babies, etc. and one girl wore a white plastic rice sack. Whatever.

I would have liked to be taking pictures already- lots of candids of the kids getting ready, but as I wrote in my last post, all our cameras were out with JP in the field. However, our kind neighbour Tony was supposed to come to the show and he’s quite a good photographer. So, I was counting on him for pictures of my girls performing.

Soon the kids were all dressed and it was time for me to go out and find a seat, which is always a big deal. The nice parents tend to stay nice, but the merely tolerable ones become horrible- pushing, shoving, blocking, and acting, in general, like they are the only people on earth that count. And the mean parents become absolute monsters. The seemingly benign world of school pageants brings out the worst in many. Scary.

Tomorrow: On With The Show!

(This is what they call a “cliff-hanger”- a cheap device to get you to come back tomorrow. Will the car get repaired in time for the trip? Will Beth get a good seat at the school program? Will Tony show up and take pictures? Stay tuned…)


babzee said...

As one of the family's fans, I had to flip over to Eldest Daughter's blog to see if she had written about the school porn scare or safe fruit lessons. As a mom, I was instantly relieved to see she hadn't. But I trust her with content like that. The kid has a magic way of expressing wry contempt that actually hints at kindness. In a pedantic, "oh you little fools" manner. Gets it from her mama.

Anonymous said...

Argh!! Cliffhanger indeed. No offense, but less about the talent show than about whether you contacted the spirits in Nanou. I mean, the mango rain's a-comin' -- you better get in touch with those spirits pronto. Or else... well, or else bad things happen at school skits!

Also loved the story of the comeuppance with the camera on the bus. Doh!