Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Enter the Bat Shrine of Doom. Yeah. Real high on my “To Do” list.

But there was Isseuf, chortling gleefully and giving me a “You white girls are such sissies” kind of look. And I WAS pretty curious, I have to admit.
And the bats DID all seem to have relocated, at least for the moment.

I told A to go wait outside. No telling what would go on in this next, more mysterious shrine and I figured that NOT bringing the 10 year old child of missionaries into might be a good plan.

But, amazingly, A. wanted to come along and Alexa, too, was ok with it.
Mallory, unfortunately, was at the end of her patience with all the weirdness and was already outside. And I wasn’t going to make her. I’d let her brilliant anthropologist father figure that one out.

I gathered the other two girls right up behind me, figuring that I could block any stray bats that might have missed the initial bulletin that strangers were invading their home.

As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could make out that this room was about the same size as the Earth Shrine, but far more roomy. Instead of an elaborate altar at the far end, there was a very simple one, mostly made up of a big, black pottery jar. I don’t know what was in the jar. I was never even tempted to look. I was just relieved to see that there was a bench for us to sit on along one wall and that the floor was quite clean. Maybe the Earth Priest gets his wife to sweep it out regularly. At any rate, it was not the nightmare of bat droppings that I had been expecting.

I sat down with the two girls on each side of me and Isseuf was crouched near the Earth Priest. He translated the Earth Priests words to me:

“This is the Shrine of the Elephant Hunt. Now, of course, laws prevent us from hunting as we used to in the past, but we still keep our shrine. Even though we can’(t hunt elephants, we can ask here for help with other problems. Our troubles and obstacles can be lifted. We can ask for protection and prosperity. That is what I am going to do for your daughters. They will be protected when you leave our lands and go back to France.”

It was all very wonderful - but our last eight years in Africa have probably been far more risky than our eventual future in Europe will be. No malaria or meningitis in France! But going to live there no doubt sounded like a pretty perilous undertaking to an elderly Earth Priest who has never even been to Ouagadougou

And his previous demands for better health for Alexa seem to have worked wonders. So, why not?

I contemplated all this as I listened to JP trying to persuade a very reluctant Mallory to enter the Shrine of the Elephant Hunt. He had her in the doorway, but she wouldn’t come in. We all assured her it was fine (very clean, bat-free and far less scary than the Earth Shrine) but to no avail.

JP finally half-carried her in and sat down with her on the far end of the bench.

No sacrifices were even required here. We just sat respectfully while the Earth Priest chanted.

Tomorrow I hope to get to the end of this VERY long story...

No comments: