Thursday, September 6, 2007

Monday, August 20

Today, we drove south from Daloa to Issia. On the way, just south of Daloa, we stopped at the monkey village. The story goes that the village chief, fearing that he and his family would be enslaved by the French, concocted a potion to turn his own family into monkeys. Unfortunately, the reversing potion failed to work once the slavers were gone. To this day, villagers are forbidden to harm the monkeys, as they are after all humans. Of course, economic harm would also result. We paid $30 for the privilege of taking photographs.

It took about 2 hours to drive to Issia. On the way, I noticed for the first time a rock formation similar to Ayers Rock in Australia and Enchanted Rock of Texas--upwellings of magma exposed after surrounding sedimentary rock had been worn away. Issia has a simlar rock.

We arrived in Issia at about 4 PM and drove to the business of Evariste’s cousin, Annika. She runs a hair salon and with the earnings, she houses and feeds dozens of young women who lost their parents during the war and who otherwise would work in the cocoa farms or as prostitutes in the cities. Her partner, Christianne, wants to build a clothing factory where she can employ otherwise homeless young women.

We sat in the courtyard for 45 minutes while Evariste and the driver went to pick up bottled water and toilet paper. We then proceeded to Depa. Here we were welcomed with great shouts and the chief himself came down to greet us. We proceeded to the chief's house, where we enjoyed some glasses of delicious palm wine.

We walked up toward the chief’s house, where he received us with palm wine, Koutoukou, and some other hard beverages. We sat for a while as the sun went down, and then we walked back down the hill to our respective quarters.

I asked if I could use the new bathroom. About 40 people accompanied me, and when I was finished, they all applauded as I emerged. It’s a solidly built structure, and the floor is quite attractive with its inlaid fragments of tile.

Stan and I each took African showers (ala bucket) in the new “bathroom”. As usual, it felt really good to clean one’s skin after a hot, sweaty day. We then ate dinner with Evariste. Mark and Kate chose to go without.

Afterward, Evariste, Stan and I enjoyed a nice dinner. Mark and Kate retired early and actually slept on a bed! They were also able to use the bathroom in the room next door, although they have to tiptoe past a few people sleeping on the floor--presumably because they had given up their bed.

After dinner, Stan and I retired to another bedroom that was graciously lent to us. I covered myself with mosquito repellant, but the buggers got me in my Achilles heel, of all places. Good thing I was taking my anti-malarial medication!

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