Sunday, June 20, 2010

Out With Burkinabe Friends

Last week, my friend, Aristide, called me up and said that we needed to go out together some- where. This sounded good to me because when I’m at work, I think and talk about work. When I’m at home, I think and talk about work. When Kathy and I go out somewhere together, we think and talk about work. Well, it’s true that I love my work, but hey, once in a while it’s nice to have a change of pace, to think and talk about something different! For this reason, I’m glad that I have a few friends that are not connected to my work in any way whatsoever.

So on Saturday night, Kathy and I got in the truck and headed over to the other end of the city to Aristide’s place. He said that he already had a place picked out where we could go to eat. It was getting dark and rain clouds were gathering as we left our humble hovel, and lightning was flashing in the distance. By the time we got to Aristide’s neighbourhood, it was completely dark and the rain had begun pouring down. We could hardly see where we were going! In fact, it was a miracle that we found his place at all. I’d only been there a couple of times, and this time, due to construction and detours, had to approach it from an entirely different direction completely.

We stayed put at his place for the duration of the downpour. When the rain finally subsided sufficiently to think about heading out, it was already after 9 o’clock but we headed off anyway.

The road near Aristide’s place was completely flooded at this point. I stayed near the middle as much as possible to avoid the ditches on either side, but was no longer able to see the potholes. We hit some deep ones, but managed to make our way out easily enough. One car wasn’t so lucky. The driver had misjudged the location of the roadside ditch and one front wheel was clearly down in it, leaving the back end sticking up into the air. A small crowd of men was trying valiantly to extract the vehicle. They must have succeeded eventually because when we came back that way later on, the car was gone.

The place we went to was an African-style restaurant with metal tables and chairs set up outside. This particular one was renowned for the style of chicken it served. They boiled it in a yeasty broth instead of grilling it. Aristide and I decided that three chickens would do for the four of us (these are Burkinabè chicken, remember, and not the kind they serve in Swiss Chalet, where a quarter chicken has as much meat on it as an entire local chicken here!) and sat down with our wives to talk and wait. Unfortunately, the humidity at this time of the year brought out the mosquitoes, so Kathy and Mariam, being in dresses, spent much of their time trying to keep the little beasties away from their bare legs.

After half an hour or so, the chicken finally came. To be honest, I prefer chicken grilled to that boiled in a yeasty broth. But it was worth it for the opportunity to spend some time with friends, and think and talk about something completely different from our regular lives.

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