Friday, June 6, 2008
How do you sign 'you're blowing my mind'?
*(This was meant to be posted on Friday but the electricity went off in the town just as I was clicking 'publish'.)
People here are dropping like flies; three volunteers in the other house have malaria, Ashley had to go to the hospital for an IV last night, and on any given day someone's throwing up in the bathroom. I have a grand total of 17 bug bites on my feet alone, so every day that I wake up without malaria I am so thankful! Knock on wood.
I have found inspiration from surprising sources since I last wrote. The first is everyone at home - many of you responded to my last blog with an incredible understanding of the universal trappings of people. The point that most of you made was that this trip is for me, and as much as I want to help, I should offer what I can while continuing to learn from the cultural exchange before me.
So with an open heart and less frustrated mind, I accompanied Lori to the School for the Deaf yesterday to watch their dress rehearsal of a dance performance. I cannot wait to share pictures and video of this experience. We sat around with twenty or so of the kids, ages 5 to 16, who taught us the alphabet in sign language with incredible patience (my man hands were not built to communicate gracefully). This collection of deaf students is the most amazing group of young people I have ever encountered; almost like a tribe, they take care of each other and are so gracious to outside visitors, and watching them speak to each other is absolutely beautiful, with forceful hand gestures and such dramatic face expressions. And just when I thought I couldn't be any more impressed, the drumming began. Five boys (one of which may be the love of my life, in 4 years when it's legal...) began to beat against drums they held between their knees - in perfect rhythm. And then 4 boys and 4 girls ran out and danced effortlessly and expertly. They performed dances that told stories about love; boys offering their belongings to women, women shunning them, men fighting over the same woman, etc. They performed for about 2 hours and not once did they skip a beat. I am tempted to make an analogy here, somehow relating their ability to dance with only a vibration to lead them, to enjoying life's very basic and simple pleasures. If life is a dance, sometimes we don't even need music to lead us. As I reread that, I'm slightly embarrassed, but I'm leaving it there anyway. It's impossible not to be cheesy about such resilient, laidback people.
Now I am off to Accra for the night (back to Kizzi's house with Lori, Ashley and Jimmy), and tomorrow we will wake up at 4am to drive to a nearby national park, with the promise that we will see elephants and monkeys. After that, we'll drive to Cape Coast, a coastal town in the central region that houses the largest slave fort in West Africa. There will be much to tell on Monday, I am sure...