Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I have realized that the reason I’m feeling so relaxed is that I have hardly worked since arriving. I enjoy my work, but it feels like it belongs to my other world. I spend the morning chipping away at the backlog of emails, but it feels a bit forced, and I am glad when it’s time to walk to CABTAL for lunch. (It’s ndole day again. This time I give Marie, the cook, about $3.00 to buy the leftovers to take home.) On the way back, I stop at the pharmacy to stock up on a few things. Armed robbery is a problem, so the pharmacy staff and inventory are behind bars. (Our apartment has bars on its windows, too.) No prescriptions are needed. If you know how to pronounce it in French, you can buy it. Between the pharmacy and home, I hear a man calling out "Madame! Madame" This is pretty normal, and it's best to ignore it, but he is so insistent that I turn just as he runs up to me. He points to a vehicle across the road and says in broken French, "The car - there. Come." I smile and say no thank you. He says, quite insistently, "No, I help you. Come. No problem." I again say no thank you and tell him that I walk for my health. At this he grabs my arm, hard, and says almost angrily, "You come. Where you live? Where you live?" People passing by are turning to stare. I wrench my arm away and continue on my way, while he continues to shout, "Where do you live? Where do you live?"

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