Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Bangui

We’ve been in Bangui since this morning. The trip was really tiring, at the exit of the plane a long line in the sun filling papers and more papers. Since they know my boss and he has a diplomatic passport (there may have been some money exchange as well), they have let the rest of us get out and he has stayed to arrange visas, suitcases, etc. We have gone to a patisserie for breakfast. The road trip, amazing. I haven’t been allowed to take photos because it’s looking for a problem with the local police, but oh lord. Such women’s dresses and baskets on their heads, such police forces in pickups with submachine guns on the roof, such garbage, markets, blue helmets, but I think the most thrilling part have been the advertisements, neverending fun. Now we are at the hotel, and the wifi is and is not, but the room is very nice and there is a pool and everything. My toddler is exhausted, he is finally being able to take his nap, let’s see if his mood improves and he stops bandalizing things and people. He does not want to go indoors, I think he does not trust that we are not putting him on another trip of a thousand hours. We do not know how we will go to the jungle because there is no flight permit until Sunday, but they are trying to solve it, who knows. The hotel is next to the Oubangui River, and on the other side is the Congo. My son has celebrated his first car trip without any baby seat or belt by opening the door while moving, thank goodness that the roads are shit and you can’t go even at 20km / h. Later, in the hotel, since the doors have more accessible handles than at home, he has locked himself in the bathroom from the inside. In the end they have removed it by disassembling the handle. Later at night, when we were going to have a shower after dinner (here the king of the disco, in addition to hallucinating the local population with his dance moves, has crawled under all the tables and the grime is indescribable), I don’t really know how, he managed to close the bathroom door (without a handle) and locked us both inside. After about 20 minutes of screaming and kicking at the door for his amusement, the personel have come to rescue us. Me with a washcloth and him naked, of course. As they opened the door, with the help of the chief of staff, I have taken the door off its hinges and left it in the hallway, not again. Now all the staff come to say hello and high-fives every time they see my boy.
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Camping

I wanted to go to the forest camping with my toddler and the Baaka, but my bosses told me to practice closer first, so tonight we camped in Moussapola, a Baaka village about 5km from here, between tall grass and taller trees and red sand and tons of dirt.  We arrived with lots of lollipops for the people and coffee and tobacco for Memba, the grandmother who would receive us and let us pitch our tent in front of her hut, who I was told had a little consumption problem like almost everyone around and that if I gave her money she would drink it and so on.  Anyway, lollipops, Nescafé and tobacco, and everyone was happy.  We arrived and my son was already in his element, bumping fists with everyone, chasing the kids who cried at the sight of him, getting into other people’s houses (for him these huts are like toy houses, only you can find people shitting or something) and exploring the whole town.  I was behind him, spraying him with mosquito repellent and saving him from falling into every bonfire he saw.  It was threatening to storm, so we pitched the tent, and just in case they told us which hut to run to if we got flooded at night, because here when it rains the sky falls down.  And suddenly it was night.  While lightning fell on the forest and everything was filled with fireflies, people began to gather at the two little bonfires that were there, they took an empty bucket and little else, and began to sing and clap.  My baby danced in the dark.  The ghost of the forest arrived, a man who danced disguised as a bush, and when he dropped the costume he said it was because the ghost does not like lanterns, so the rest of the ghost dance was in the dark and we only saw what the lightnings illuminated.  My son went about his business, not seeing a peep but rubbing up against all the snot-covered kids, trying to steal their lollipops and groping the ghost bush.  At about 10 o’clock he couldn’t take it anymore so I took him back to the tent, to sleep I thought.  The party ended at 3 o’clock.  The poor baby looked at me with the eternal gaze of the insomniac, the one that asks with mute desperation, what’s wrong, they don’t have a home?  I answered him, patience, my dear, soon the rain will fall and they will disband.  My forecast was right only in part. After two hours it began to rain but the disbandment was partial.  The hard core stayed there, doing iiieeeeeeeeeeee iiiooooooo in three voices, repeating the parts that did not go well and shouting from house to house.  Somewhere around then my son fell asleep crying.  In the wee hours of the morning I got scared because there were people coming to the tent shouting angrily.  This morning they explained to me that it was because some people came from far away to see my exotic blond toddler, and when we left they were disappointed.  Another version says somebody stole a cauldrom. On top of all this, the 150% humidity inside the tent before the rain turned into soaked and cold clothes when it started to rain, we only had a mat (which my baby took) and the floor was made of dirt and stones.  I feel old.  Around four o’clock I managed to fall asleep and at six o’clock it was dawn and the whole village and the goats gathered around our tent to comment on how long it was taking us to get up.  So, we got up, we went out to fraternize a bit in the daylight and as when my son has spent a bad night he only wants to be breastfed and left alone, and as by now all the women around here know what ti-ti-AAAAAAAA means, every time he asked me to breastfeed him all the ladies shook their own, and my baby has spared no attention, he has touched them all and has sucked some, and I did not know where to hide  At the end it started to get a bit crowded, so, as no one was coming to pick us up, I grabbed my backpack, put my sonon my shoulders and started walking towards Bayanga.  Then grandma Memba joined me and told me that not that way, the other way, and she stayed with me just in case.  At the end we crossed paths with my bosses, who came late to pick us up because today an elephant came to the house, destroyed the stall and wouldn’t let them get in the car.
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Billy

This afternoon I took my student out to do some boxing, Billy the green monkey came to watch and my toddler went with him. The monkey tolerates him quite well, my son follows him and tries to climb the tree behind him. The monkey starts walking towards the undergrowth of the forest, my son goes behind him, by the time I realize he is already inside (lately he is a bit of a spelunker, he likes to crawl under the beds chasing the cat or some ball), there are vines with spikes, he is entangled and can not get out, he starts screaming, I go, and every time I try to unhook him (there stuck in the fucking undergrowth) the damn monkey attacks me. My toddler screams, I get closer, the monkey jumps in my face with his mouth open. I shoo the monkey away with sticks, pull my son out, both scratched from top to bottom, and the monkey chasing us. Fucking Billy.
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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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Gorillas

Today I went to see gorillas at Bai Hokou, which is called Bayoku. I say going to see gorillas like going to the movies or to the zoo, but it has its process, and here they surround it with a mystique that, the truth is, it deserves it. I have left my offspring, with a shrinking heart and three Hail Marys, with my bosses, and I have gone with the driver and a very nice tall blond Belgian guy who works here. Don’t worry, woman, it’s only four hours, the guy tells me. Four, sure, the first hours, and after those another five. Twenty minutes on the road and we find the first tree blocking the road (wet season has it), back to the village to get the machine saw and a man to handle it, with parsimony, haste kills. Back to the road, machete,machine saw, 30 m more and another tree, and so on about 7 times. It took us three hours to get to the camp, and when we arrived everyone had left and gone to the forest and there was only one lame baaka who, poor thing, took the tall guy and me and a huge walkie talkie and came to the forest, very slowly, on tiptoe and quietly, but first let’s wash hands and boots, after all we’re getting into a virgin forest. Every ten steps he had to stop to reposition his flip-flop and foot scarf, and we were all tense, because when the baaka stops you stop too, lest he has seen an elephant or something. At every intersection he would stop to yell at the walkie something that sounded like where the fuck are you, come and get these tourists, I can’t walk. After a while I was limping with empathy too. In the end he couldn’t take it anymore, so we stopped at the foot of a giant half rotten tree and waited. The ground covered with leaves and big and small mushrooms, huge trees and saplings growing in its shade, and the sound, I thought the jungle entered through the nose, but no way, it enters through the ears. And underneath, red sand like in the desert, it’s only normal that tomatoes here taste of nothing at all. After half an hour another baaka arrived to take over from the lame one, and it took us on an hour long run through the forest, crossing streams, mudflats covered with elephant footprints and yellow flowers, a clearing with elephant bathtubs, forest and more forest covered with leaf litter, with twisted vines thicker than a tire and huge trees. And, when I had already forgotten what we were looking for, so amazing was the forest, so novel-like, so movie-like, he took us off the path and we continued among lianas and trees until we found one of the gorilla rangers. Surgical mask so as not to infect anything to our cousins, because Macumba the patriarch is already over 40, and tiptoeing away the branches, and there they were. Doing nothing, eating, farting and sometimes playing. Macumba, the silverback giant, sitting down, from time to time stretched out his arm to grab something, an arm as big as a child, a hand like ours but huge. One of the two cubs there came up to us and sat less than a meter away staring at us, looking like a small child. Its mother, eating nearby. Another female with her baby on her back, carried it between some small trees and started playing the same games I play with my baby. A couple of juveniles were hanging around. The two youngsters played among branches and vines, and when the adults got nervous their keepers clicked their tongues to calm them down. We must have spent an hour with them, I don’t know, I didn’t even notice. Pure peace and silence and golden light and shadow. We returned almost running, same as before, but I do not remember anything of that journey, because I have seen gorillas and I have said goodbye to them and I will not see them again in this life, but now I know they are there, and that has to be worth something.
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Amaiur

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Sesión de fotos

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Probando la D40 en el balcón

Abejorros y una preciosa esfinge colibrí libando en nuestra albahaca morada. Las mariposas han sido demasiado veloces para mí…

 

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Nuestro primer huerto urbano

Hay que ver lo que cabe en un balcón:

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Sesión de fotos con abaya, shela y vestido retro.

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