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Trip Start Jun 30, 2004
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Trip End Sep 15, 2004


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Thursday, August 12, 2004

I've a few things to talk about today; it could be along entry but Ill try to break it up into cunning sections, these being my Visit to Church, 5 Crying Babies and Swimming lessons

Ive also spent hours uploading photos!! so click on the thumbnails above, and Im getting better at weaving them in so you should see some throughout the entry!!enjoy!
Here's the first photo! Life is good,

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Church
Just Before I got ill I was told I simply had to go to church, simply had to on Sunday, the children where very insistent and before I knew it I was doing up a hastily borrowed tie at 530AM Sunday morning. I got a mototaxi (scooter) ride to the Village and arrived just before I was told to happy that I was on time and very smart in my ironed shirt and trousers (strange feeling after shorts and t-shirt). This was the first of a long list of errors, I got told that infact we where going to the 8am service (very nearly said some very bad French expletives) so had a sleep and we then went to the 8am service.
I've put some thought into the description of the church but I can't get much beyond a massive farmers shed!! Seriously that's what it looked like, we had to wait as the 6am service had run over a bit as it operates on African stretchy time (le heure africain!!) so by the time the church had emptied and we had sat down and the Archbishop had come back from a rather lengthily tea break (I presume). It all started with a distant drum beat and than a bit of wailing and then some cheering and then about 300 children streamed into the church, in very smart 1920's like clothing (some amazing hats). They where singing dancing, hips wiggling everything. It only then dawned on me that the presence of the archbishop was not a coincidence and as it was a catholic church all these children where about to be confirmed. Long and short of it is I got up at 530 to go to church, I walked out of the church at about 1230!!! Id been promised that church here was an unforgettable experience, and I don't think I will ever forget it; but despite the heat(metal roofs and midday sun aren't pretty) and the cramptness(we where sardines on the benches) I walked out of the church actually wanting to go back one more time, because it was fun, the music was a performance in itself, sometimes it was more like the celebrations in euro 2004 when we won some match, except the people weren't drunk, were wearing there best clothes and they could dance; not the best parallel that!! Anyway next time ill try and smuggle in a camera
But here is q photo of me after with those who had been confrimer and the director of the village 'Papa'


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5 Crying Babies
One thing you must understand for this story is that almost everyone here is black, if you're not in the "expat district" of the capital you can go days or weeks without seeing a white person (or yoovo - in local language).
Also the children know me as Jonathan, this is because on the first day I realised for some reason they either done believe a name like Johnny is sensible or they just can't say it so I am Jonathan.

This Monday was one of those very good days, the kids were excited to see me and there was an absolute triumph.
When I first arrived in the village over a month ago, there where 5 babies who cried the moment they saw me, one of the favourite games of the older children was to pick these babies up and see how close they could get them to me without them crying, and then bring them closer and see which one cried louder!!
Look at the girl just to the right of me, thats rita, Screaming!!!


Great game that, Anyway gradually I have managed to persuade these little babies that I am infact not the devil, and nor are other white people, so stop crying. It took a while, and there where some false starts, Georgette (1years old) managed to overcome her fear one day and come and sit on me, which was cute until after a few minutes turned around, realised that yes I was infact white, and very ugly, she then peed herself!!
2 twins now will play with me but if they see me just after they wake up they scream and cry, very strange, I have to stear clear of their house after there siesta's!!
Gradually these children have overcome there fears, but there was one girl Rita who was always winning those games, she found me positively repulsive and was the loudest screamer hands down. But this Monday as I walked in and was mobbed again I went over to the slide and was playing a bit and then she walked over (slightly wobbly but very proudly), and then the whole group kind of stopped and looked, she then said "Jonathan" and held out her hand.
That was that she is now one of my greatest fans, mostly sitting on my hip, and has still not peed on me!!

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Swimming lessons

SO after some negotiation I am now allowed to take some of the children to swim in the pool at the British pool, which is nice and makes the children very very excited, and also very upset if there not going that day. Anyway I was a bit puzzled as I took the first group, they where all scared, properly scared of the water and when I got in to show them it wasn't that bad some of them screamed. After much persuasion I got them to sit down and eventually to put their feet in, after about half an hour they where all giggling splashing and throwing the ball at each other!
When I got back with 10 exhausted children I asked someone in the village why they where so scared, few people here can swim so are understandably worried about water but I'd never seen anyone that scared.
It came out that the last time they went to the beach to stop them drowning the children where told "don't go near the water, it will burn your legs off"
Nice!

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And Finally Jerimy is as happy as ever I spent an entire day in his house the other day and sooo happy, weve now realised that isnt actually a pig but malnourished a bit when he was younger so just like to have food around.....here he is looking good!!!
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