Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As you read this, Katie and I will have passed three whole days since our last official day of fieldwork. After meeting with the many helpful community members who directed us to the functioning boreholes, we set out by ourselves to what Katie believed would be a representative sampling of the non-functioning boreholes. It was on these excursions that we realized a few things: GPS-enabled knowledge of these sites and your relative location to them means nothing and will never supplant local knowledge; we were smart not to have done these samples on the days when we were led around by our guides since they would have tired of our existence and left, or killed us out of boredom; that we have spent way too much time together without taking a break. In reference to that last bit of wisdom, let it be known that if ever you decide to have a public argument (inasmuch as these things are actually “decided” upon), do not do it when 50+ people with a meager grasp of English are tending to your every word. Thanks to us, many a Ghanaian were blessed with the knowledge of words I am too sheepish to mention at this juncture (though I’m not at all sheepish about typing them, as you all well know).

So yes, we are finished collecting the samples (YAY!), and now comes time to relax. This Saturday we will plod the weary route toward Ouagadougou (which in Mossi means “forget about Ghana, the only food worth eating is in Burkina, bitches”) for another much-needed break from the travails of our stay in Ghana. And as weary as I’m sure we are sounding fleshed out on computer screens the world over (all five of them), let it be known that there is still much work to be done, mostly on Katie’s part.

As for me, I was able meet one of three lifetime goals , the first of which was realized almost ten years ago when I made someone puke out of pure exhaustion (okay, maybe the carton of milk consumed a few minutes beforehand played a crucial role, but so too did the calisthenic torture I doled out, dammit). A few days ago, as Katie was choosing from a book loaded with all the available patterns for this one local weaver, a bunch of kids decided to come over and play a game favored among the youth (the older ones love, with all their heart, “Bicycle Chase”): “Stand Around and Look at the White People Until One of Them Moves at Which Point You Should Run Away and Not Let Them Touch You Because if You Do They Will Rip Your Face Off and Eat Your Insides.” That’s a rough translation from Fra Fra, and one based solely on the children’s reactions to our presence, but I will say that while enjoying a beer one time with one of our guides, some children who gathered to watch us drink were told that if they didn’t leave us alone we would come out and chop off their heads. No lie. After that, we never really wondered why kids were somewhat terrified of us.
Anyway, having had a good day, I was willing to play the aforementioned game with these kids, and I hid behind the corner of the building and chased them across the street. Everyone got away except one, who tripped trying climb out of a shallow ditch. It was like something out of the movies: she looked back at me over her shoulder, began trembling, and the tears commenced. Now, most of you who know me will agree that I hate children, especially since they poop and pee all over the place and can’t earn a living and all, but I would never hurt one, and so I dropped the monster fa├žade, stooped down to pick her up, and told her, in english, that I would never hurt her. It did no good. As soon as she was in my arms, she stiffened up, looked me straight in the eye, and yelled “BLAH BLAH BLAH,” which I took to mean either “my dad will kill you if you hurt me,” or “you’d better put me down,” or “I’m gonna fuck you up, asshole,” and given that she was no older than 5 or 6, I was undeterred in my placation of her anger. Until she peed on me.

I didn’t know what was happening until I was soaked from my hand to my elbow, and for those of you who have handled babies before, that’s about 10 gallons of piss. It was all over my shorts and looked as if I were the one who peed, but all I could do was laugh, and all Katie could do was laugh at me and call me a moron. “I’ve been peed on,” I said as I returned the girl back on the ground. I stepped over her as she lay there supine from the fright, and not until I got back across the road from her did she get up and run away. I never even got to thank her, for how many of you can actually say that you’ve scared the piss out of someone.

Some pictures: