In Nimes at the Russian cybercafé, after spending the day getting gloriously lost. I was planning to take the laptop to the repair shop in Montpellier today, but it tuns out the repair shop is only open Monday through Friday. I went exploring…in the beginning I was looking for the tourist office to find a map, but it was nearly sunset before I found that map. Instead, I found a wonderful English novel that I’ve barely been able to put down and a few household things I had been looking for. I found the marketplace, with its orderly counters of jams and jellies, croissants and quiches, swept-clean tile floors and gleaming fish packed in ice, and wasn’t sure if I missed the vast Bujumbura market with its stinking dried fish and shouting vendors and piles of pineapples in the walking path, or not. and I also found a lesbian bar, a Réunionnais restaurant (the South Pacific islands), a gallery full of suits of armor and bizarre glass-blown creations that only people with money to burn would like, and two impressive free museums– one where some woman had explained the history of France through women’s fashion by hand-sewing two dozen detailed doll outfits, and another that was a history and zoology museum– a treasure trove of Roman coins and Greek pottery and taxidermified wild cats and monkeys, but the sad thing was the exhibit on African art had not been updated since colonization…Africa reduced to black and white photos of strangely dressed people staring out from behind glass. When it’s really Europeans that live behind a wall of glass…
The other day around dinnertime I could not get my window blind to roll up, so I went around asking my neighbours to help with it. I could hear movies playing from inside the flats. I rang a few doorbells…nothing at all. Finally someone answered, speaking from behind the door like she was afraid I’d knife her if she opened it. I finally was able to satisfy her that I was not an axe murderer and she did fix my window blinds, but didn’t even ask my name. I miss Buja, where cab drivers and friends of friends of friends would high-five you and start conversations on the street. I have talked about this with the real humans I met…the manager of the lesbian bar, and a guy who came up and talked to me during the set break of a drum circle. His name was Martin and he was a middle aged welder from Réunion.
I asked him about the drum circle and he said, “Are you a foreigner?”
“Yes, I’m from Canada.”
“I’m a foreigner too, and I want to go home.”
He starts talking to me about creole music, and I kick myself that i didn’t put Martinique or Guyana or Réunion as my first choice, because of money. CHICKENSHIT. But who knows…if you believe in desitny, maybe something is supposed to happen here?
The drum circle is there to attract attention to a lobby group for people who live in subsidized housing. My new friend is poor, cold, and stranded…when I make eye contact with him, he pours me an orange soda and gives me the first real smile i have seen all day. I have to leave to run a few more errands, but on my way out i sign up to volunteer. I do hope they call back.
I am hoping to type up that Kigali post in the near future, although my priorities are my student profiles and my “rapport de stage” that Alexis wants…which I was supposed to be doing for the hour I spent typing this. Whoops.
Side note…before I left Buja, Antoine happened to mention that Pierre’s parents had enrolled Brahim in literacy classes.