Sunday, January 25, 2009

It Takes a Village

Paul and I went to Coneilia’s today (Her own house – not the hostel where she works.) It’s rather difficult to get there, so she sent her friend to get us in his taxi. It was a typical taxi: a 15 year old Toyota Carina that, well…it’s still drivable, anyway. The road to her house is so bad that were it in the US, even people with SUV’s would think twice about going down it. (It was too bumpy even for garter stitch.) The road doesn't go all the way to her house, so at the end of it the driver told us to walk on, while he stayed back to roll up the windows. He then got out a screwdriver and proceeded to do so for the next five minutes or more. The house is hard to describe, so I won’t try until I have gone back for photos. (Halfway there I realized that I had forgotten my camera.) The land around it is taken up with her “farm”: seemingly random plantings of manioc, sugar cane, pineapples, papaya trees, chili peppers, red beans, cocoa, cocoa yams and plantains. She is particularly proud of the plantains that Ben and Lexi helped her plant when they visited two years ago. Chickens run freely around and in the house. While we eat, her thirteen year old nephew tries to fix the television. He has lived with her for the past eleven years. His parents are living, but they are poor and have other children, so they sent Dieudonné(“God-given”) and Blessing to Coneilia, who has no children of her own. They call her Mother, and in every practical sense of the word, that is what she is. This arrangement isn’t unusual, although I think it is even more common for children to be “given” to a grandparent. Dieudonne and Blessing see their birth parents once every year or two.

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