User:Christa Sinz/letters/a weekend

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[[Image:Christa in Africa.gif]] [[Image:Christa in Africa.gif]]
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=a weekend= =a weekend=
Hello Everyone, I had an interesting weekend. Hello Everyone, I had an interesting weekend.

Revision as of 17:10, 22 April 2006

Image:Christa in Africa.gif

Return to the teaching in Africa page

a weekend

Hello Everyone, I had an interesting weekend.

I did two new amazing things and I thought that I would share them with you.


On Saturday evening, the other first grade teacher and I traveled to a village to check it out for a possible field trip. A town that lies east of Abidjan is called Bingerville. Just outside of this town is tropical rainforest ... jungle. This part of the jungle is called the sacred forest by the local village people. Anyway, we turn off the main road onto a small, overgrown dirt path leading through the jungle. This road was pitted with huge holes and was often too narrow to drive on without taking out all of the brush on either side. Palm trees, tall green plants, and huge fan-like leaves hang over the road created a roofed path for us to travel down. The opening in this vegetation tunnel was not more than four feet tall and 6 feet wide. Just this travel down this path was amazing and we were not anywhere close to the village. We drove for 30 minutes and finally reached the edge of the village.

We got out of the car and were greeted by curious and skeptical eyes. The man who arranged our visit with us came and greeted us and brought us to the central meeting place of the village. There we were invited to take a seat and to drink either palm wine or coconut milk or both. The coconut was just cut down and a hole was cut into it ... unfortunately, it was not yet ripe ... therefore it was not as sweet as usual.

Soon, on the dirt ground in front of us, there gathered a group of men and women who sang the most beautiful and amazing traditional ivorian songs. Of course, the men were also playing traditional instruments made from things found in the jungle. The drums were amazingly loud and resonated through my entire body. Fortunately, the man who expected us translated the general meaning of the songs and footwork for us. Slowly everyone from the village gathered around to watch. The small naked children were carrying even smaller naked children on their backs. Most of the time the children were captivated by the music and dance ... occasionally they seemed captivated by the presence of the only white person ... ME! Along with the song ... we also watched several dances of worship. They worship different masks for different occasions (like birth, death, spirits,, etc.) That is to say there were several mask dances. Only a select few are permitted to touch or wear these sacred masks ... usually only one or two people in the village.

The dancing revealed a most amazing sense of rhythm, physical fitness, strength and agility among the men and the most amazing tempo and concentration among the women. It was great!


Then, today .... I went to a soccer match with my friend Namory. The teams were Africa SN against Switzerland FC Sion. The match was held in the large (and VERY NICE) outdoor stadium in downtown Abidjan ... right on the lagoon. The field and track around the field were absolutely beautiful and would rival the best stadiums in the world. It is actually the largest stadium in Cote d'Ivoire as well. Yet, the structure surrounding the field ... including the seating has a lot left to be desired. The scoreboard is also stuck in time ... like stuck in the 1930's by USA standards. There was also NO clock anywhere. Getting into the stadium was confusing and difficult and somewhat secretive. We finally were brought around some brick wall and then through 2 open spaces and 4 narrow doors and 3 even narrower passages before we were inside the structure ... then to find some seats. But, it was a fantastic atmosphere. There were over 50,000 people in the stadium and maybe 5-10 white people ... I was one of them. There was also only a very small handful of women ... I was one of them. Behind either goal ... outside of the stadium ... there were huge trees that were homes to the African fruit bat. So, throughout the game we were serenaded by the songs of literally thousands and thousands of bats flying overhead!!

The crowd was thankfully amazingly calm throughout the game and afterwards. They are known to get rowdy here ... and there have been several deaths here as well. I asked Namory if this was a safe game to go to before we went and I also asked him to help me make clothing choices and otherwise so that I would remain safe. But, Namory is Ivorian and can speak all (8) of the local languages and dialects. He is also very careful and very thoughtful ... so, I felt safe with him around. Most of the people we ended up having an encounter with were happy to see that I was rooting for the Ivorian team and then thought it was great that I came to watch. I was certainly a curiosity. But, most everyone was sweet. While the teams seemed to be pretty well matched, the Swiss seemed to dominate for the first half. Yet, the Ivorian team dominated the second half. The Swiss team won 1-0.

Leaving the stadium was also a chore. The first 4 exits we tried to leave through were locked. We had to walk a quarter of the way around the stadium in order to finally get out (over 20 minutes later) ... along with at least a quarter of the 50,000 people. I told Namory that if there was a fire ... we would have been dead a long time ago. He was a bit confused by that statement ... this was a normal scene for him and he didn't understand our USA "fire hazzard" mentality. Anyway ... then it took us equally as long to finally get a cab back home.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and I can't wait to go again. The cost of a ticket was only $3.50 ... and those were not even the cheap seats which cost about $0.75 .... those are like the bleacher seats in the States.

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