For the rest of our lives we’ll have stories that begin that way. That automatically makes any story cool, even if it is a story about our cat.
Simba looking ferocious
Over the past month different various, little things have happened that are worth retelling (I think at least). As I was walking to meet up with Ben at Luis’s an old women greeted me, her name is Mama Muso Keta. We go through the greetings which can take a few minutes because she is hard of hearing and most elders have some problems deciphering our mandinka, as we do with theirs as well. Then she asks me where my father is. Confused, I say ‘he is there’ – that is the standard mandinka answer. And I tell her I am going to Luis’s. She insists on coming along to greet ‘my father’, and at this point, I realize she is calling Ben my father. She follows me into Luis’s compound and other villagers ask her where she is going and she responds with me to greet my father. I’m laughing at this point as Mama Muso Keta follows me through three different gates to see Ben. I come in and tell ben that she has followed me through the village to greet him and that she is calling him my father. Ben doesn’t see her at first and thinks I’m talking about a small child which would be fairly normal. She comes in, greets Ben and leaves, all the while calling him my father. The Gambians who were there also thought it was pretty funny. Gambian old ladies are the best!
One night we were talking with Lamin, Sibou, and Isatou and all of a sudden 7 villagers loudly enter our compound and present us with a grocery bag. They ask us to tell them what these items from ‘Toubabadu’ are used for. We ask where they got this and they said that ‘so and so’ has a sister who works at a hotel in the city. Inside the bag of toubab goodies included: tartar sauce, mustard, satay sauce, rose flavored extract, and rose flavored water. Our dad took the mustard to put on his dinner of rice, and they left feeling very excited about their loot and happy to have knowledge of how toubabs use these strange items.
Another evening, I walked into the compound and our host siblings and other kids are surrounding something in our compound. I walk up and they part ways to show me what they are looking at – a giant crab. I say ‘Whoa, where did you get that and when are we going to eat it?!’ then try to translate that into mandinka. They excitedly tell me that it’s Sana’s crab (ben). And then Sibou tells me ‘yes Kaddy, Sana owns it so take it inside your house’! I look at her like she’s crazy and say ‘O Hani deh! (O no way!)’. I said we should wait for Sana to come home to decide what to do with the crab. Sana comes home shortly to explain that yes I want to eat this, and tells us how kids at the pump were poking at it and asked him if he wanted it, so he said sure. So until we had time to cook the crab, Lamin made a leash for the little guy and tied it to the laundry post (which is a mangrove stick).
Sherifo with the crab
Sibou and our host dad lamin both claimed they didn’t know cook it (even though I’ve seen Sibou cook smaller crabs but she apparently didn’t think that she could cook a big one). So Lamboy our 12 year old host brother was deemed the appropriate chef. Lamboy, Sana, Sherifo, and Alpha all huddled around a small charcoal grill and lamboy tore off limbs of the crab and put it on the charcoal. It was too dark to get a picture but I absolutely loved the small bbq. That’s the Africa we’ll remember, somehow attaining giant crabs and cooking it over a grill with small boys. It was delicious.
The small bbq made me laugh because of course I could’ve cooked the crab that way – just pulling off body parts and putting it on the fire, but when I thought about cooking the crab I complicated it too much. I thought about boiling it, cooking it with garlic and butter and a dipping sauce; I didn't know how to do that without instructions. The simplest way of doing it completely escaped me. But luckily, I had some African boys there to remind me.
Sana holding his crab on the leash while Lamboy, our chef, poked at it with a stick.