Monday, February 2, 2009

The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord

February 2nd is known in the Catholic world as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. In Enugu the nuns and priest gaAdd Imagether at the Cathedral for a special mass where they renew their vows. Last night at dinner the sisters invited Aubrie and I to come.

So at nine o'clock this morning we loaded up the van and headed into town. In the past I have found Nigerian traffic both exciting and terrifying and today was no exception. We managed to traverse the chasm like ruts of One Day Road and I gave a sigh of relief as we found pavement. I soon became absorbed in the hustle and bustle of daily life until I heard a loud grinding noise. It took me a minute to realize that the grinding noise was the sound made when our driver misjudged the space between oncoming traffic and a parked car. Trying to stop any further damage we stopped and the other driver pulled forward. He then got out of the car and retrieved his tail light and part of his bumper from the street. The driver looked surly and I wondered if Nigerians even have car insurance. Maybe it was because he took pity on the van full of nuns or maybe fender benders are everyday occurrences here or maybe he just couldn't bare to deal with the driver who mutilated his car but the driver told us to just go. One of the sisters leaned out the window and apologized as we drove off. The nun who was driving simply said "It is illegal to park on the street any way." Driving in Nigeria never ceases to amaze me.

So we arrived at the Cathedral and all nine of us piled out. (It was what Becky would call a clown car.) The Diocese of Enugu is pretty large and there were probably at least a hundred nuns there. The cathedral is more of a pavilion than a traditional church and I was grateful of the cool breeze. It was a nice service and it was made all the more meaningful since it was held in English. After mass there was a reception held in an adjacent pavilion. After everyone was settle there was the ceremonial presentation of the kolanut to the bishop. I am not entirely sure why but the kolanut is presented as a sign of welcome and since there was not enough to share with everyone we were offered garden egg (eggplant) dipped in groundnut paste as a substitute. After that the entertainment began as we feasted on a variety of Nigerian dishes including yellow fried tapioca that looked and tasted like grass. One of things I enjoyed most about today was the traditional dances. The first dance was preformed by a group of girls with large white dots painted on their legs and small white dots on their faces. Later a group of boys preformed a dance with one of the boys wearing a wooden mask and masquerading as a woman. Both groups were accompanied by kids who were very talented drummers and singers. At times the nuns or the priests would join in and everyone had a good time.

So all in all it was a good day. I survived my first car accident in Nigeria and I got to party with the Bishop of Enugu.

Love from Africa,

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