Blog. Ben here. As I am typing this Kate and I are in our house in the village. We just recently learned that a clinic in our village has a solar charger and while its not open regularly our friend is the key master and said we can use it to charge the computer. Now it looks like we might have a regular source for charging so chances are we will try to get wireless internet sometime in the near future. Exciting stuff. Other than that new piece of information things have been going quite well. We’ve both been healthy and continue to find many possible jobs and projects. Its quickly getting hotter but its still somewhat cool at night. There have been a few nights this past week where I had to crawl out from under the bug net and just go stand outside for a few minutes and cool off before going back to sleep. The coming of the heat also means the mangos are ripening. Its only the very beginning of mango season and we have only been able to try a few but they were delicious and I am very much looking forward to having mangos available all day, every day. We are definitely still adjusting to life and have felt quite busy most days. Over the last few weeks I’ve started my career as a village footballer. I think I may even be the new goalkeeper (they call the position “posts”). I have now played in three full field pick up games. While I need some training to get back in shape and I am still learning to play on sand/really hard sand its been fun. A few days back some guys from the neighboring village came to town for a friendly game. I think most of them were surprise to see a white goalkeeper. I feel like I might become somewhat famous around this region of the country if I get to continue to play on our village team. Not necessary based on skill, mostly because Im the only toubob (white person) around playing football. Not only am I playing soccer I have been able to watch on TV. They show Champions League games on the Gambia TV network and thanks to one man’s generator I’ve watched four games over the last few weeks.
Action shot of Ben playing Post in a pick up game
In addition to footballing and football watching I can now proudly say that I’ve gone on my first hunting trip. Actually I’ve gone on two hunting trips now. I can also probably say with confidence that I am the only one among my hunting friends who began their hunting career in the African bush (besides Kate that is, who was on hunting trip number 2). Now that being said, from what I know of hunting this was not normal American hunting. The first trip included probably ten men, only two had guns. I did not have a gun and unfortunately won’t get to ever since handling a gun is not cool with Peace Corps. Basically the way the hunting works here is that those without guns spread out throughout the bush and look for the deer. If one sees a dear they call out the location and the group begins to move that direction attempting to chase/trap/corner the animal for the gunman. Honestly, I never knew what the plan really was. Although others saw an actual deer and tracked it through the mangroves I never actually saw anything. No shots were fired and we still had to eat rice for dinner. No bush goat. While it was fun and I hope to do it again, maybe with more excitement the hunting trip ended up being a two and a half hour walk through the bush. I think the most interesting thing I learned about this method of hunting is that there is a possibility for hand to hand combat with an animal. As I didn’t know what would happen I didn’t bring anything with me out to the bush (not like I have much to bring). All the other guys were finding nice big, thick sticks to carry with them. After noticing that they all seemed to get one I asked why everyone was getting a stick. The guy next to me replied, “For emergencies”. I wasn’t sure what emergency might come up that required a stick like that and neither of us had the correct language skills for me to find out at that point so I just laughed at the reply. Later, another one of the guys asked me where my stick was. He speaks english so I was able to ask what exactly I needed one for. He said I should have one in case I needed to hit the animal. Again I laughed. I couldn’t see there possibly being a situation where I would need to hit an animal with a stick! I asked him if anyone had EVER killed something with this method to which he replied “Why not?” Touché. I asked the more direct question of whether he had actually seen someone kill something with this method. He said he himself had done so. I guess it is possible then. This whole time I was picturing a deer (whatever kind of deer like creature they have here) running at a human and them taking it down by hand. I later realized that the stick method was most likely to be the method if one came across a bush rat (it is what it sounds like) or a snake or something else. I don’t think anyone is hunting down a deer with a stick. I never did get a stick for myself on that trip. I did eat a few cashew fruits though and that was good. For those of you who don’t know. Cashews grow on trees and have a big juicy fruit attached.
The second hunting trip wasn’t really “hunting” I guess, depending how you look at it. For the sake of storytelling it just sounds better. So my second hunting trip ever and Kate’s first was baboon hunting! A gang of baboons had moved towards the woman’s garden a few days back. Apparently they and other monkeys can be very destructive to crops and people here don’t like that. I found out that people here in this area don’t really eat baboon but people further up the country do. There were a few guys with guns on this trip. Kate and I were mostly interested in seeing the baboons, not necessarily shooting at them. I don’t really know if those with guns were planning on shooting them if they had the chance or just shooting at them to scare them away from the garden area. I didn’t really ask. Anyway, this trip was much shorter than the first but we did take a nice walk through the bush. Kate was able to get a few pictures of the baboons but the quality is that of a sasquatch sighting because the baboons refuse to stop and pose for pictures. I expect we will have many more opportunities for baboon/monkey pictures while we are here. We see monkeys somewhat regularly these days.
So those were my first two hunting trips ever. Unconventional and unsuccessful, while still entertaining. I suppose I will leave this post with that. If you took the time to read this far, thanks, although you’re most likely bored at work. Blog out.