forest swimming
(wednesday, may 5th)

Yet another excursion from Bobo is a trip into the forest of Genguitte, where you can discover an amazingly beautiful pool of clear water, dappled in sunlight.

Kader took me there, and we spent an afternoon swimming and chatting with the students and teachers who were enjoying a daytrip away from class. Again, I was amazed at how lush, almost tropical, this part of west africa was. Such a complete contrast to my experience in Senegal one or two weeks back.

 

I dared to take my little digital camera into the water and everyone had loads of fun posing for the camera and then previewing the results. Luckily I didn't drop it like the last one.

 

 

 

We sat in the water and talked for ages about all the weird things I could think of from life in New York. They are all fascinated with America. I talked about minimum wages, not knowing your neighbor, and working on the 44th floor. In terrible french, I tried to counter their enthusiasm and describe some of the things that I thought they had and we were losing: kinship, patience, hospitality etc.

This is where I met Tidiani (at center top of this picture) who was the most enthralled with America and who was to later take me to a mask festival at his village.

The kids all want correspondents in the states (I suggested a french-speaking country) and we suggested putting up a page on the internet with their names and photos. I said I'd go to the school the following day and discuss it with the administration (I did, but he wasn't interested. It has to be school-to-school: I didn't want to unleash these kids to the ravenous internet public. So not this time. But what a great idea to connect africa with europe?).

 

Most of the kids didn't know how to swim, and there was quite a current from the little river that wound through the forest and fed the pool. I gave a few impromtu swimming lessons and impressed them all with some underwater distance. I felt quite the athlete for a change.

A couple of them took me along the river into the forest and picked out some special stones from the riverbed and began painting their faces and hair in red. Enthusiastically, I sought some ritual/anthropological significance to this.

But I think they were just having fun.

 

On our way out of the forest
and back to Bobo.