Published: February 13th 2006February 2nd 2006
On the road to Ahoho. I was impressed with the resemblance to the mud road at home.
I have thought of an amusing analogy to explain a part of my life. This just came to me, so be flexible.
Imagine yourself on a lovely walk in the woods. It’s a beautiful day and everything around you is familiar. The air smells fresh, the sun dapples the ground in its usual lovely manner, and grand trees surround you. You are at peace and in harmony with your environment. Suddenly, the distinction between you and the trees is your immediate reality. You say to yourself, “oh, I am not a tree. I am different.” Yet, because you breathe the same air and drink the same water (different processes), you can easily slip back in to your walk, and your reality is no longer warped.
That’s not quite the best analogy for what I am trying to explain, but it works as a base. I live here problem-free, but sometimes the fact that I am blond, blue-eyed, and “very white” as the mayor told me, in English, jumps out at me. And then I go on living. It’s bizarre because it’s not bizarre.
I am thinking of this because I saw so many “white” people today; “so many”
Toes on the Horizon
Lake Doukon, searching for hippos. No success, which only means I will return... It was beautiful. The toes were in the water, except for the picture, and with great restraint, I kept myself out of the water otherwise.
as in maybe fifty. (How many have you seen today?) I felt really weird thinking to myself, “whoa, there are a lot of white people today!” while I, myself, am “white”. But I can understand a little better why “white” skin is so yovo-song exciting, if even I take notice and I have been here only five-ish months.
What was I doing and where was I to have seen so many “white” people? I was in Ouidah for the National Voodoo Holiday. Ouidah is party-central for Voodoo in Southern Benin. I wandered all over the place, looking for who I was supposed to meet, then just wandering in general when I didn’t find the other. I went to The Port of No Return, which is at the beach, to watch all the dancing and singing. I accidentally let myself get burned, then drank lemonade and ate FanChoco (similar to ice cream) to cool off. Took some pictures.
To quit the sun, I stood under a tree and debated what to do next. Although there was a lot of activity at the beach, the real party had yet to start. I am sorry to report that I did not
I Bought a New Necklace!!
Okay, so I didn't buy it, but it did cost a bit. Definately the highlight of my day.
stick around. I had to get out of the sun, and I was kind of bored by myself. So, I found a zemi to take me back to the city of Ouidah, to the Foret Sacre (Sacred Forest) and the Python Temple. The Foret Sacre was beautiful, but we left fairly quickly because the type of Voodoo that was out at the moment was a little crazed and not so good for me as a “white”, although I was “red”, stranger. Very beautiful, though; the men and women in the ceremony wore a pagne skirt and covered their upper bodies and faces in white chalk-like paint. The Python Temple was boring and expensive, to be harsh, but was saved because I got pictures of me wearing a python on my neck! The temple itself had some thirty- plus pythons, just snaking around. Because pythons are sacred in the voodoo tradition, any python found in the area is dropped off at the temple rather than being killed. Another part of the temple was for the creation distribution of protection against evil. The tour guide was not very enthusiastic, so I didn’t waste my energy thinking of good questions. The guy still wanted a tip, though.
The Church waged a good alternative to the holiday. I went to church in the morning, after which adoration was available all day long. Since this was the same in Ouidah, I assume that all Catholic Churches in Benin did the same. The message was important enough that the priest, after delivering his homily in Mina/Kotafon, summarized solely for me, in French, while the rest of the congregation turned to see who the idiot was. (HI! I AM NOT A TREE!)
The way my friends describe “the Power” to me tempts me to find a suitable potion. I am told that the Power of Africa can protect me from any kind of harm that might come my way. First, I have to talk to trusted friends who will start scouting around for a trustworthy fetisher, someone who will give me a quality concoction, and who will teach me how to engage the Power. I would ask for something in the “weakling” category, no razors or drinks, just something to be rubbed directly onto the skin. Then I would have to learn the incantations in the native language, not French. To give an example, if I were walking in a foreign place and there were bad guys waiting to jump me, and I said the incantation, the Power would make the bad guys sleep as I passed by, or if I needed to punch someone, my fist would kill the bad guy. Serious stuff. The Power of Africa.