THE CHICKENS ARE GOING DOWN TONIGHT

Let me start by applauding Tribewanted’s showcase meal which would be dinner. Grilled fish, maybe some couscous or pasta, coleslaw, fried plantains, cassava or potatoes, and Elijah’s special sauce.  All very nice and much appreciated.  However, it goes down hill from there.   Breakfast is o.k. – something like large overbaked hamburger rolls with honey, jam, peanut butter or oatmeal with raisins or fruit.  Occasionally the coveted fried omelette or boiled egg turns up which I want to shove in my pockets for later.

Then there is the matter of lunch.  Enough to break me down into a nut case after two weeks.  Everyday of the week it’s the same workman’s lunch waiting for you at the table. It’s a mountain of white rice topped with either groundnut pulverized with fish and hot peppers, or cassava leaves pulverized with fish and hot peppers. Resting atop the mound of rice are chunks of fish – middle bits, tail bits and then the heads.  After one week, enough already.  After two, absolute agony.  After three weeks, my body takes over and I start to twitch.  Bacon!  Cheese!  Maybe I’m a freak, but I need protein and fat.  The food fantasies start coming fast and furious.  I talk about food non-stop and eye the scrawny but delicious looking chickens that wander aimlessly around the village.

Fish, fish, fish, fish, fish, fish. Bring me a chicken!

The day I lost it was about two weeks in when that morning in the storage closet I found a tub of margarine and nearly cried. That’s when I knew I was losing it.  Later, I sat down at the table for lunch and something snapped.  I was ravenous but couldn’t eat.  I sat and stared at the fish and it stared back at me, as if challenging me to eat it.  I stirred it around and reluctantly brought the spoon to my lips.  I smelled its fishiness and saw those eyes looking at me and I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t eat it anymore.

Trying not to be rude but aware I was about to lose it, I stood up, swung my legs over the bench and a startled chicken and took off running like some lunatic.  I ran across the camp, down to the beach and pounded my way north until the beach finally ended where I began to scream , flail my arms and kick sand.  There was no one around anyway so it felt pretty good to throw a tantrum.  I scribbled evil thoughts in the sand which was surprisingly quite therapeutic. On the run back, it became apparent that drastic times required drastic measures.

The chickens were going down that night.

My new friend Wendie and I decided there were too many chickens roaming around and we wanted meat.  We asked one of the kitchen staff to go to the village and buy two chickens for us.  I’m such an animal lover but at this point I would have eaten my own dog.  That afternoon, I rooted through our outdoor kitchen like a mad woman and created some sort of curry marinade.  I must say, it’s the first time I’ve made a marinade while what I wanted to marinate was circling my feet.  Tapping my fingers on the counter, I was ready to kill the chickens myself.  Stomping a chicken?  Not very nice.  So, late that afternoon we watched as four villagers chased the chickens, diving on the ground arms outstretched  and hysterically laughing. I didn’t realize a chicken could run so fast and scream so loudly but they do.  Oh, but the smell and taste of grilled chicken, mmmmmmmmm!  Absolute heaven.  Thank you little chickens.

Can you smell the goodness?

MOMO

There’s a kid like this in every schoolyard, village and city in the world.  The alpha boy.  When you hear kids screaming, he’s involved.  He doesn’t understand the word “no.” He punches other kids and makes them cry.  He pees wherever he pleases and is proud of it. He plays so hard that he collapses to the ground asleep before he hits it.  He’ll sleep on you if you let him and when he does, as annoying as he can be, you look at him and know for some reason, you love this kid.  Such a strong spirit, a scrapper and survivor. Momo, can’t wait to see you grow up little buddy.

the man

susanhalethomas-5

fell asleep in his tracks and fell victim to chickens and bored tribe members

 

passed out on Nick #1

passed out on Yvonna

Nick #2 had some fun with props

buried by Nick #2 after volleyball game

“IS THIS GOD?”

One morning after breakfast some of us sat around the table discussing plans for the day.  There was a glossy travel magazine left behind that a couple of the kids started flipping through.  It didn’t occur to me that they had never seen camels, horses, pyramids, grand cities much less ridiculous perfume and luxury handbag ads.  Amused and touched by their intense curiosity, Yvonna and I went through the magazine with them trying to describe everything they saw.  The animal sounds were the best until somewhere in the middle of the magazine they came to a picture of a snow skier.  There was a long pause as they stared at the picture and then an innocent voice quietly asked, “Is this God?”