Week 2 - Rita
Well, week two was a swift one. Morning lessons were juggled around with afternoon meetings and excursions, keeping us busy throughout the week. Big hits included a tour of Abuko Nature Reserve, pool lounging (you should have seen the line of tubab tanners laid out through every spare hour), ataya with Ebrima and Aboucar, the Medical Research Council, a Fula wedding, and a Jola festival. The Fula wedding was incredible! I have never seen such an array of guests, adorned in their most elegant attire. Every single person looked jaw-dropping gorgeous. Dresses in every color and pattern hung in layers, matched to head-wraps and heavy gold filigrees. I donít think Iíve ever seen anything quite like it. Praise-singers dusted peopleís feet, sang and danced, throwing gaudy beads and strips of cloth over the appraised. Upon the brideís arrival, gifts were exchanged, food and drink were passed around, and the band began. The music was initiated by rapid drumming and was joined by more and more people until a full Ė blown band, accompanied by a boombox, played for fervent dancers. Under the encouragement of other guests, I joined the dancing and thoroughly enjoyed myself until it was time to see the bride. She had been taken into the compound, where the elders of her family bathed her and draped her in simple white sheets. She was seated on a mat with the bridesmaid and close relatives, and the admonitions began. Almost every guest gave ten minutes of advice to the bride and more food was shared (mash and chicken from communal plates, followed by a water bucket and washing rag). Finally, around two a.m. we were driven back to the hotel to rest up for our last lesson with Ebrima. As much as Iíve enjoyed this time in Bakau, I am eager to get into to bush and out of the hotel. We have a full week of newness ahead, and a great two weeks under our belts. Hi Mom!