Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Our friend Joseph hunts bats. The British American Tobacco Company has a compound (known of course as the BAT compound),where bats apparently like to congregate. Joseph has received permission from the company to hunt them on the weekends. We have eaten many things here that I didn’t relish: snake, porcupine, crocodile, grasshoppers, grubs. (The last were very well cooked. When we are offered the live, wiggling ones, I decline as sweetly as I can manage while trying not to gag.) The only time that I can recall when I couldn’t manage a polite response was when we tried Joseph’s bats. Coneilia loves them and is one of Joseph’s best customers. So one day she prepared them for us. The smell of them tipped me off that this was not going to be pleasant. I took a bite and almost immediately spit it out. I exclaimed, “Coneilia! Don’t you love your family anymore? How can you give us this terrible thing to eat?!” She and Joseph howled with laughter, but she never fed us bats again. Yesterday another friend showed me that the Cameroon Tribune had done a feature on bat hunters, and there was Joseph! He is a gardener and custodian, and I’m sure that he never imagined that he would see his own photo in the national paper. When I see him next, I will ask him when he is going to "arroser" [lit: to water]. (It is the custom, when one encounters good fortune or acquires something new, to "spread the wealth around" by buying drinks or food for one's friends.)

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