Monday, May 18, 2009

Road Trip Highlights (Week One)

I have been gone for a while and it has been an eventful couple of weeks and a lot has happened. Here are some of the highlights:

April 13th-19th
We (three nuns and I) drove five and a half hours to Edo state. We had to stop at four police road blocks in the first hour and after that I stopped counting. Sometimes the roadblocks are to check for safety violations, such as not using a seat belt or not having a fire extinguisher, but more often than not it is a chance for cops to earn twenty niara from drivers who do not want to be delayed. We stopped on the way and I used a "toilet" that was a cement stall with a hole in the ground. I will never complain about gas station bathrooms again. I ate a cricket: it was flavored with ginger, was crunchy, but not as bad as I expected. I saw pineapples growing and no, they do not grow on trees. I spent the night at the SND Central house, where all the Nigerian SNDs are meeting for their annual assembly.

I met a bunch of nuns who were coming for the assembly, the final head count was around seventy. I also saw five white people in Nigeria at the same time (prior to this the record was four) I ate cashew fruit (we could eat all the fruit we wanted but not the nut at the bottom because the nuns sell it for a profit). It sort of reminds me of persimmons and the juice is so acidic it will permanently stain clothes.I then went to Fugar, where the postulate house is. Fugar is about 25 minutes from the Central House.

I was given the grand tour of the postulate house and their farm including the yam, groundnut, and cassava fields. My entire life flashed before my eyes when the okada (motorcycle) I was riding on nearly crashed. I doubt if I will be getting on one anytime soon. I went to the Fugar market and bought pineapple for super cheap, small ones were less than 40 cents. Visiting shut ins is part of the postulates' ministry SO in the afternoon Edith and I trekked to the home of an elderly man and we stayed for a nice chat. I enjoyed twenty four hours of constant electricity AND running water. The last time I was able to enjoy that luxury was when I was still in the US sometime in January.

It was raining when I woke up and so I was able to go back to sleep until the scandalously late hour of eight o'clock. Sr. Annette (the British nun at the John Nwodo House) is celebrating her golden jubilee this year so I typed up the program for Friday's mass and then spent the afternoon hanging out at the Central House.

I went back to Central House and helped cook the feast for the last night of the assembly. Christopher and Amos (two SND drivers) took me to Agene Bode to see the Niger River. Three times a week there is a floating market where fresh fish and crops are sold and ferried across the river in long skinny boats. We took a boat ride up the river the scenery is crazy beautiful. I befriended the central house dog. It is the first dog I have seen up close in three months. I pulled the name of one of the winners of the SND raffle. The sisters have been selling raffle tickets to raise money for a new school in Abuja. The Sisters gave me a glass of wine to drink on the way back to Fugar (with all the pot holes I was surprised that I didn't spill it all) since the drivers wanted to go before the party was over. So I can actually say I went out drinking on a Friday night.

I went to stay with Srs. Cordis, Prisca, Fidelia, and Maureen in Amoyo, Ilorin which is north of Edo. We left around 9 am and even though the trip was supposed to be four and a half hours we didn't arrive until 4 pm. Part of the delay was because we were in my second car accident in Nigeria (vehicles often tap each other but it doesn't count as a real accident unless the drivers stops and gets out). It was pouring down rain and the bus behind us ploughed into the back of our van. The good news is that no one was injured; the bad news is that the SND's van while drivable has seen better days. Without seat belts in the backseats, it was a miracle that no one was hurt. The nuns start off every journey with a few prayers and those prayers paid off that day.

We went to a tiny little church in the village with an oyibo Irish priest. I enjoyed it for three reasons: we drove there so I didn't have to stumble around in the dark, it was almost entirely in English with a few songs in Yoruba, and it was only an hour and a half which is very short by Nigerian standards. When we got back I was shown around my home for the next couple weeks. The nuns in Amoyo run a boarding school for girls and a medical clinic. This is the school's second year and the Sisters are trying to come up with funding to build another wing and buy other materials, still I see a lot of potential. My projects for this week will be cataloging the books in the library and teaching the nuns to use Excel and Powerpoint. That night a woman was in labor at the clinic and the nuns were with her, so I ate a solitary dinner of rice with goat stew and fried plantains. Between the running water, the abundance of pineapple, and the dairy products, I am totally getting spoiled this week.

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