Sunday, 14 January 2007

A Muslim Christmas

We arrived in Bambadinca just before 6pm and realised that by the time we found another full vehicle it would be dark. Having appreciated the mad tendancies of driving on this road we weren't prepared to carry on. Turning to Mamadou for advice, we discovered that there wasn't anywhere to stay in Bambadinca; he did have a friend in town who might be able to put us up for the night. We walked out of town in the direction of Quebo and after asking around found Alpha, Mamadou's friend. Alpha took us to his family's compound.

We waited for the family to finish praying before approaching Alpha's elderly father and asking for a refuge for the night. His father told us that in the circumstances with it being nearly dark, he would take us in but to understand this was in unusual circumstances. I was suprised by this, but very happy to be under a roof for the night; I wondered if Mamadou had translated it properly as his first language wasn't French.
We were given Alpha's room, Alpha was going to stay with friends for the night. I undid my pack and realised I still had a few more children's clothes. I got them out and found one of the two wives of Alpha's father, handing them over squeals went out from all the children & grandchildren, they were thrilled to have something new, whilst tears rolled down my cheeks. Between the five children living in the compound, they had about 15-18 children between them, Saly, the youngest didn't have any clothes and the parents were delighted.
I'm not religious, neither is Gianni; but we explained Christmas to Mamadou who translated it for us to the family. There was a massive hush as we were talking and trying to explain, that like Tabaski, we give presents to family members for Christmas and for us this meant a lot that we were with a family who appreciated the presents we gave them. Gianni & I later explained how 'materialistic' Christmas is in Europe to Mamadou ... I don't think he or Alpha could fully comprehend it. The weirdest thing was the moon was in a crescent shape ... cornily, it sort of brought it all together for us!
The bottle of Portugese red I'd bought from Boris, the Nigerian at the Paragem in Bissau came out and the two of us quietly toasted Christmas! The family suddenly produced a bowl of rice for us to share with Alpha & Mamadou, totally unexpected as we'd told them that we'd find food elsewhere, but they were so grateful ... Mamadou, Gianni & I then walked into town and found a little nightclub and sat in the bar having a few Super Bocks before going back to the compound.

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