Thursday, December 30, 2010
Written by Chad
Roosters are jerks. They do nothing but strut around, looking all pretentious and self-obsessed. They're kind of like locker room jocks who might slap you with a towel and call you four-eyes. I'll be sound asleep, dreaming about electricity and running water, and suddenly at 3:25 AM a rooster yells, "WAKE UP! SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK, YOU PANSY!" Then all his rooster frat boy friends around the village crow in response, "YEAH, I'VE BEEN AWAKE THIS WHOLE TIME! I'M TOO MANLY TO SLEEP." It's difficult for us to tolerate their immature behavior, but I know that it stems from each rooster's insecurity and need to belong.
By day, the music of the great outdoors is as predictable as the animal sounds in "Old McDonald Had A Farm." We hear the grunting of passing pigs. We hear what sounds like a wheelbarrow with a squeaky wheel- it's just guinea hens squawking and pecking in the trash pile.
But, by night, unidentifiable creaks, scratches, and movements come from all directions. By night, were convinced that the universe is out to get us. Within our five-room home, we find special solace and safety within our fortress of solitude, a yellow mosquito net canopied over top the bed. Flashlights in hand, we huddle close and wait out the savage sounds of the wild threatening to invade our sanctuary. At the unholiest of hours, chirping bats fling themselves against our metal roof and bleating goats ram against our front door. Perhaps they're scratching their backs, but more likely, they're plotting to break in and eat us alive. We know your game, Mother Nature.
Our latrine happens to be on the opposite side of the courtyard from us, so on any given midnight potty run, we must open the front door to our porch, which is also the door to the goats' bedroom. They awaken and frantically disperse from the porch. It's equally startling to see them on the way back from the latrine, floating through the courtyard like horned ghosts, glaring begrudgingly. I don't think they've warmed up to us yet, because these are the very goats who try every day to eat the straw off of the porchside lattice. There's just no room for diplomacy with an army of hungry goats.
Good news, though. I'm thinking I can deter their armies' advances in the disputed porch territory by spraying Rambo everywhere (Rambo is Burkina's own all-purpose ddt-laced insecticide. It smells awful). If our ongoing war with the goats reaches a ceasefire, we won't have to continue greeting the day each morning by sweeping their droppings off our welcome mat.
Each morning, we never set an alarm because in the wintry 70-degree weather, village children in Eskimo coats and earmuffs make fires in the trash pile that is only three meters from our bedroom window (that's about ten feet for those of you who still refuse to switch to metric). Many of these children for some reason have those little party favor kazoos. The limited repertoire of toys around our village means that children make the most of what they have. So, they blow liberally on their kazoo thingies, filling our ears with wake-up music as the carcinogenic smoke from their trashpile fills our lungs with lifespan-reducing chemicals.
As a passerby, the smell of burning garbage, like it or not, will often waft into your nostrils. It's unmistakable. It's emblazoned into your nasal cavity. If you endure this odor enough times as I have, you'll be able to conjure it up anytime at your beckon call, helping you lose your appetite, even faced with a hot plate of your favorite food. This could be a useful skill, I think--losing one's appetite on command--kind of like how a talented actor can make himself cry if he wants to... Hm, I lost my train of thought...
Oh, yeah, I meant to tell you- since there are no laws against littering in Burkina, these trashpiles are everywhere. The take-home message of this is that anytime, anywhere, you can drop your juicebox immediately after you finish it. In fact, it's encouraged! Finished with that diaper? Drop it on the sidewalk. Done with that nuclear waste? Just throw it out the bus window. You get the idea. Sure, it's any easy concept to grasp, but in practice, I'm still a dude with twenty-four years of goody-goody conditioning in middle-class America.
I had eaten the granola bar, yet the wrapper remained in my clenched fist. My mind said, "Drop it! When in Rome!" But my hand said, "No, let's wait for a trashcan. Littering kills baby ducklings and causes, like, global warming and cancer and stuff." Fifteen minutes later, I was still walking around the market in search of a trashcan- there were none to be found. My hand gripping the granola wrapper, sweat dripping down, I suddenly believed everyone was staring at me, whispering about me, "Why won't he drop his granola wrapper? What's wrong with that man?" I swallowed my fears and decided to loosen my hand muscles... but how to do it? Should I triumphantly heave the wrapper at the pavement? Too melodramatic... Should I ashamedly stash it my pocket so I can privately dispose of it at home? Don't be a chicken... Should I pretend to scratch my leg and "accidentally" drop it? I just can't do it... I looked at the empty wrapper in my palm and looked at Tana. "Hey! Want the rest of my granola bar?" I handed it to her and took off running.
Table of Contents
- ► 2012 (13)
- ► 2011 (27)