Warning: May Contain Watermelons

This week has been pretty momentous: I got 2 marriage proposals during a trip to town, I made a toddler scream with the horror of my pale visage, and I have been having fun with, you guessed it, watermelons.

On Monday, I was biking home from a meeting of the farmer’s cooperatives in the area, and I saw an oxcart coming the other way down the road. Oxcarts are not exactly precision-handling vehicles; they are steered by thumping the ox with a stick to tell it to turn. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and waited for it to pass. It slowed down a little as it got nearer, and I waved to the four people inside. As is passed, a boy jumped out, handed me a watermelon, flashed a thumbs-up, then ran and jumped back into the cart. I barely had time to say ‘Ndalumba’ (thank you). And that was it. I’m still confused about why it happened– I didn’t even know the boy– and where the melon came from. The cart was empty except for the people and (apparently) one watermelon. Has word gotten out that I love watermelon? Had they stopped by my house to give me a melon, and I wasn’t home? Do they keep one watermelon in their cart, just in case of emergencies and muzungus? I may never know. (a muzungu is a ‘stranger’ or ‘white person’)

In honor of the 31st, I tried to explain Halloween to my family. It is a pretty strange holiday, so I wasn’t too surprised when it took several tries to explain. First they thought that kids went to door-to-door passing out candy. Then they thought adults went door-to-door giving kids candy. Finally I managed to clear things up.

They were very interested in my description of jack’o’lanterns, and wanted to see one done. Since pumpkins are not in season now, I decided to try carving my oxcart watermelon. I cut the top in standard pumpkin-carving fashion, then cleaned and ate the insides with a spoon. I used a small kitchen knife to carve a dopey face, and sat it on my porch. It got many strange looks throughout the day, but nobody stopped by to ask about it (though the chickens did keep trying to eat it). When dusk came, I lit the candle and sat out on my porch. The neighborhood kids came crowding around, excited by my ‘face melon.’ One drew a cartoon of it in the dirt. Nobody had ever seen anything like it before, and they thought I was ‘so smart’. I think in a few days, when I have a new watermelon stash, we will all try carving together. Then we can all be so smart.

My last news for this week is that I have a new addition to my menagerie: a kitten! He is a little grey and white tabby, and about as spunky and adorable as anyone could want. He is a fierce hunter of crickets, though I hope he graduates to rodents soon. Right now he is only about as big as a rat, but with time I’m sure he will keep my hut vermin-free. And until then, he can just purr on my lap all he wants…

5 thoughts on “Warning: May Contain Watermelons

  1. Ooops should have read the previous post first ! backpack and bike rack – both good means of carrying watermelons!

  2. What a crazy fun adventure, Jaime! Keep the stories coming. We love & miss you in GP! -Lori

  3. Mark, I’m glad you’re enjoying my stories! To put inquiring minds to rest: I get internet access on my phone, which I keep charged with a solar panel. I email posts, in several segments, to a friend who handles the posting for me, since this phone has an irritatingly small character limit. I do definitely appreciate the irony of blogging via email while sitting in a mud hut with no electricity or running water!

  4. Absolutely fabulous blog posts Jaime! Congrats on being an official Peace Corps volunteer! You are doing a wonderful thing and this will affect the rest of your life in a very positive way. I loved the two summers spent in Africa when I was an undergrad….I worked on two Peace Corps projects, one in Sudan, the other Mali and the gave me a completely different perspective on how the world (really) works. You are a great writer btw.

    I brought a frisbee to the Sudan and had the same reaction as you did. I loved the dancing description too as that brought found memories of celebrations in the southern Sudan with the Dinka people. Keep up the fantastic posts….and inquiring minds want to know where you get Internet access? XX Mark

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