Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet homecoming (Part 1)

Moussa, driving the Land Rover

January 18, 20009
I've been back in the village for just 2 1/2 days and it already feels like I never left. In the days before arriving here: on the plane, in Niamey, then Konni, my head was a jumble of people and places. Parents, family, brothers, friends, dogs...Oregon, Wisconsin, Ohio...as I got closer and closer to this home, another crowd started mingling with that ever-present smorgasbord of America. Enter Niger: adoptive parents x 50, adoptive family x 100, brothers and sisters x 500, friends ('cause everyone here is your friend) x 40 gazillion. I spent a few days feeling pretty homesick, but gradually the loving hum of my village got louder and louder, and finally I arrived. The "welcome back" process has been like no other, a constant barrage of "How's your family? How are your parents? Your dad? Your mom? Your little brother? Your older brother? Eliza? Anika? Lucy? Their moms? (They've taken a special fond interest in my little-girl relatives; I explained "Fairy God Belayer" and it came across like I'm a child-crazy witch.) People I hardly know at all--some whom I've never talked with, much less recognize--are coming up to welcome me back. It is really, really cool.

One of my favorite moments of my whole time here was when Moussa drove me up to my house. You can hear cars from quite a way off, and there are seldom any around, ever, so people in town knew that someone was coming. They also all recognize Moussa's car-- a standard white Land Rover--so they knew it was me coming. Driving through the village was like being in a parade: a one-car parade, with throngs of kids shouting my name, and adults leaping out of courtyards to wave and join in the bustle. I wanted to throw candy, it was so festive.

And then, the kicker--we pulled up by my house and I spied Narba across the crowd She was all wrapped in her red shawl, carrying a bowl of sweet potatoes on her head. I got out and pushed through everybody to reach her, and she gave me a hug. A real hug. I may not have mentioned this before--villagers don't hug; I've never seen a single hug this whole time. Never, not in sad times or happy times, ever. But Narba gave me one!

I cried, obviously.

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