Day Twenty-Seven: Bus Load and a Ball

My phone is taking a rest today and happily I’ve been able to make my laptop work.  An unexpected solution, given the ups and downs of the Internet here. The dust of Senegal has found its way into my phone ports, and my friend Nano has taken it away for a hoped for cleaning.

Wow … here comes a smile. It doesn’t matter if my phone gets fixed in Senegal. It doesn’t matter if my phone gets fixed in San Francisco. And it doesn’t matter if my phone gets fixed! What kind of strange universe am I living in?

***

There’s a lovely story to tell, and the lovely pictures won’t be accompanying the words. They’re on my phone.  No problemo.

I wanted to tuck myself into the end of the tiny patio of Chez Boum.  Blessed by a Flag, I would read more from The White Giraffe, a marvelous book about the adventures of 12-year-old Martine in South Africa. The beer went down easily, as did the story.

And then the bus, a luxury one full to the brim with white-skinned tourists.  They seemed to skip off the vehicle for a first touch of Toubacouta earth.  I heard French and, I think, German. The tour guide came towards me as the folks were occupying two long tables. I asked him if he needed mine, and he nodded yes, without a smile.  I took my chair and rested it near the “Chex Boum” sign painted on a wall.  Shade was still mon ami.

I interspersed reading about Martine with glances over to the arrivals. They seemed to be a happy bunch. I made eye contact with a few of them.  My smiles were not returned. Oh well. I can live with that.

After the group had finished eating, some of them walked around.  They stayed together in pairs or little groups except for a woman with her camera. She knelt down and talked to three local kids. I’m glad someone did.

As Martine made eye contact with a young giraffe, I could feel a presence off to the side. Then those same three children moved right in front of me. They were each saying the same word, which I didn’t recognize. It came clear that they wanted me to give them something.

I arrived in Senegal with five deflated beach balls, the idea of a girl named Sophie back in Belmont.  Trying to blow up the first one, I ripped a tiny hole in the plastic. Tiny was plenty big enough because the ball would no longer hold air. The next three balls went to various gloms of Senegalese kids.  So there was one left, conveniently deposited in my backpack.  I took it out and started blowing.  The young ones stared.

So did many of the tourists. A few of them laughed at my lengthy efforts to make a flat thing spherical. I laughed back, feigning exhaustion.  After several minutes, I had a real ball, splashed with colours. (I think they were red, white and blue, but the evidence is in my newly departed phone.)

The deed being done, I lofted the ball over the girl facing me. She turned and watched it fall to the ground, and didn’t go to chase it. Eventually a boy picked it up and brought it back to me. I threw it over his head. Soon the ball was flying through the air among three kids, and I was forgotten. Many of the bus riders were watching the action closely.  We smiled together.

The kids disappeared down the street with their treasure. The bus filled and backed up. As it pulled away, there were many waves between the riding Germans and French and the standing Canadian.

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