Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush Taxi to Gao

Kate and I walked the dusty streets of Sevare, past little girls playing in mud doorways, past the Peace Corps building, past the Peace Corps Baba shop with its bead museum, past the Mobil station, and towards the bush taxi stop. There was a little restaurant across the street that served mafe and rice that we ate with our hands. We sat outside at a wooden table and watched boys with plastic buckets swishing by in long boubous, men in Dogon straw hats whizzing by on scooters, women with babies lashed to their backs dangling giant gold earrings from their ears.

At the bush taxi stop we sat under a lean-to, and waited, and waited. A gorgeous young Tuareg girl with golden skin led her tall old turbaned father around by the hand. Finally they sat down shyly on the ground, and then made Mali tea in a little pot and offered us sweet hot cups of it on a tray. The tea jolted us awake in the midday heat and made salty sweat drip into our eyes.

The way bush taxis work is that they leave when they are filled up. That could take 10 minutes or 10 hours. So we had another cup of tea, and then another. I wished my French was better, or I knew a smattering of Bambara or Tamasheq, a Tuareg language. I smiled at the girl, widened my eyes, nodded, in thanks for the tea.

4 Comments:

Blogger telfair said...

I think I want to visit Africa. I'm not sure how or when, or in what capacity, but it's made my "must do before I die" list.

My husband & I watched a program about Darfur Sudan the other evening and I wanted to get on a plane right then. But to do what? I don't know. The program still troubles me.

I always look forward to your stories.

6:22 PM  
Blogger joyfish said...

You are so kind...I also look forward to your stories on sixtenpine.

Your question "to do what" continues to haunt me as well, meaning it is hard to figure out which are the right actions, or are there right actions?

12:27 AM  
Blogger telfair said...

Yes, absolutely, that's it. I feel so helpless, and I just don't know how I could possibly help or make any difference. Seemingly unanswerable questions. Is donating money the right thing? Will it get where its needed? Is donating time the right thing, even if I'm untrained in any particular skill, without any idea of how to contribute?
I feel at a complete loss, but it's horrible to just witness that kind of suffering and not do anything. It seems a worse crime than not wanting to know about it at all, in some way.

I don't know -- just rambling here!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Work in Progress said...

Still wondering what happened to that dogon door...

1:21 PM  

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