10 days and counting

We have spent 10 monotonous, generally boring and routine days in the Central African jungle and, to sum up: far from booster seats, seat belts and traffic regulations, my toddler has discovered his passion for the brum-brum.  Car he sees, car he tries to get into.  If it’s in the back of a pickup, all the better.  In addition, he has discovered jealousy, and while I teach my student at the hours when he is most unbearable, he slaps, steals, paints the books with markers and bothers in general.  On the other hand, he has gotten into the habit of, whatever he sees (dog, cat, monkey, chicken, pig, whatever), he sticks his face to its snout to say sweet nothings to it.  I’m anxious, of course, stop it, it’s going to bite you, and so on. He ignores me even more than at home.  The whole village knows him, from Bayanga to Moussapola.  Wherever we go, people shout Moyu (white), baby, or directly his name.  The Baaka grandmothers come to hold him (they are the ones who usually take care of the children, although here we can see that children also take care of children, they are so great at it), he does not let them and tries to grab some kid’s machete.  In the evening, when he enters his manic phase, he plays alone, no matter where: he runs, jumps, climbs, hangs, screams, spins around, crawls under the furniture.  When he does it in the house, it’s bad enough.  When he does it in a village, or just outside, the whole town gathers to watch.  They laugh when he does something crazy, shout when he runs down the hill in the dark over potholes and holes, applaud when he gives back something he took from someone or bumps fists with the children.  When he trips and falls, someone comes to pick him up.  If he gets too close to the small children, they squeal and run away, and of course, he squeals and runs after them, and so on until he sees a stick or a stone or a brum-brum and forgets what he was doing.  Every time I breastfeed him, lots of people gather around.  Yesterday we went to Dzanga Bai to see elephants, half an hour drive through the National Park, half an hour walk behind the guide through termite mounds, elephant poop, streams and forest.  We arrived at the Bai almost on tiptoe, me walking with him on my breast to keep him quiet, we went up to the viewpoint, he releases my breast, sees the 123 elephants gathered, splashing in the mud, does his impersonation of the elephant, trunk and noise, pppfffiiuuuuuuu or something like that, and the elephants run off and hide in the jungle.  End of the trip.  Apart from that, the usual scares:  I get distracted for a second and find him halfway up the treehouse, or he sticks his leg up to his hip in a termite mound tunnel, or he’s grabbed a monkey’s tail, or he’s about to trample a little stream of legionnaire ants, or he’s wandered into the house of a gentleman who was so calmly cooking something on a campfire,  or he has slapped a child in front of his mother, or there is a child with a very bad cough trying to hold him in his arms, or they have put a kitten in his arms like the one that gave me ringworm, or he runs towards one of those elephants that if you make a sudden movement it will charge you.  To top it off, considering there is no way to dry cloth diapers here, he has gotten used to walking around with his twinky in the air and he won’t let me put pants on him anymore.

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