For the past several weeks there has been a dark cloud, an ominous black fog if you will, hanging over me. It's there when I wake up, it's with me when I go to bed, it follows me down the street, and even into the bathroom. What is this black fog? Well, when you put the two together it is just what it is: The BLOG.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. I haven't written in FOREVER, but I have a good excuse: Okay, I have a lame excuse. What I do not have is internet. Or time. But don't worry, because right now I have both plus an extra special ingredient - stories. Man, have I got stories for you!
So a couple of weeks ago Danny and I went to the Gambia. It's a small country in West Africa right by Senegal. Yeah, we hopped on a plane one day and went to Africa. You know us, throwing all caution to the wind, rolling with the waves of life, following the stars and all that yabber.
We went to set up a one-week mission for our new project that we're doing with high schools here in Walsall. We're going to be doing a 12-week program with 6th form students (the equivalent of 12th graders in Canada) where we educate about third world poverty for 8 weeks, experience it for 1 week, and expand on what we've learnt for 3 weeks. The trip went brilliantly and we were able to set up our entire schedule for when we take our group over next April.
And now for The Story of the Week:
Danny and I met a very nice Gambian lady and her son who invited us to their home to meet the rest of the family and see their shop of carvings, crafts and other knick-knacks. Danny and I both wanted to see how all of these things were made and so we arranged to meet up the next day and visit their home.
We had a wonderful afternoon meeting the brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and new born cousins. Then they showed us how they carefully crafted each carving with old chisles and rusty sets of kitchen knives. It was remarkable. As I perused the shop, I was struck by the detail of each creation: birds of every kind - captivating and colourful; thinking men sitting in many positions - abstract and awkward; monkeys of all sizes - a bit creepy but impressive; topless women with proportions to make Barbie blush; crocodiles detailed from tip to tail; and every animal Noah took on the ark.
The mother of the family walked up and stood beside me as I admired all the carvings.
"My sons work very hard," she said, her words laced with pride.
"These are all amazing," I complimented, "Your family is very talented."
"Thank you," she replied. "You know, the tits are the hardest to make."
"Uh, pardon?" I whispered.
"The tits," she repeated, "they are the most difficult to carve."
Then one of her sons came and joined us.
"Yes, the tits are the hardest to carve because you have to do each one individually," He stated in agreement.
Pause. I stood motionless, making eye contact with only a statue of a crocodile.
"Uh, huh." I said.
Then the son reached over and picked up the crocodile that I was staring at.
"You see," he said as he pointed to the reptile's mouth, "the tits are small and it is very difficult to carve each one exactly the same."
Flashback One: A Gambian girl named 'Elizabeth' introduces herself as 'Elizabet.'
Flashback Two: A Gambian student writes 'Thursday' and pronounces it 'Tursday.'
Flashback Three: A Gambian man in the market is selling souvenirs for a thousand delasi (about $10 Canadian) and quotes us the price of 'a tousand.'
'Th' sound = 'T'sound ...'Th' = 'T' ... so 'tits' would be 'tiths' would be 'teeth' would be ... oh, I see now.
"Yes," I finally fully joined the conversation, "The teeth do look hard to carve."
And my record is perfect still. Alycia 4, Ears 0.