“Tuck Tuck”


Funny how two words mean so much.  “Knock knock,” “Hi, I’ve stopped for a visit,”  “Give me a sticker,” “Would you like to buy some mangoes, bananas, cakes, chickens, papayas….” “Just in the area, thought I’d say hello,”  “Anybody there?” 


In a culture devoid of front doors, this is the greeting one most definitely gets to know.  It can instill fear (quick- change from some shorts to a pair of pants), excitement (they’re here!), curiosity (that’s not the night guard’s voice…so who IS it?) or there is always the unfortunate sense of annoyance one may feel when another vendor is at the front door and you have already bought all the bananas you can possibly eat.


We’ve had the privilege, however, of hosting many new friends over the past number of weeks, which we have been enjoying immensely.  This is an aspect of African culture we have come to love and wish was more of a reality back in Canada.  Whenever anyone comes anywhere near your house, they will most always stop by, just to say hello.  The pastor makes frequent visits, as well as some of our coworkers from the Centre or the clinic.  A local farmer we met one day at the market has made visits as well as a myriad of children with the regular requests: “Je demand le ballon (soccer ball), je demand un bon-bon (candy).”  Some young people at the church have stopped by as well as a familiar face: Daniel (in the orange shirt in the picture).  He works on the station, and is a mature young man who takes us on hikes, helps us locate items from the market, and has become our friend.  He also translates for the kids program that we run now on Sunday afternoons.  He has a real gifting with kids and is amazing at putting order to the chaos of 70 kids trying to vie for attention and participate in the games. 


It’s amazing how much you feel connected to the world around you with all these visitors.  Every day after work one of the young men at the handicapped centre rides by on his motorized tricycle and says “bon soir”. There’s the night guard Luona, whose voice we can recognize quicker than his face because of his ritual of saying “Et la journee?” (and the day…how was it?), at the beginning of his night shift.  And then there’s Djibo, our trusted Fulani day guard who most often is dropping off and picking up keys to our food co-op which I run.  (He’s the one wearing the hat that a visiting elderly Georgian lady gave him!)

You feel connected, loved, and well, honoured.  We wish we could be so spontaneous back at home or that we lived closer to all our friends so that it was more possible.  We’ve been thinking a lot about how we can make that sort of relational lifestyle more of a reality at home. 


Besides drop in visitors, we’ve been able to host our new neighbor (short termer Anita from New Zealand), the head of the CSPS and his family, my language trainer, and a visiting opthamologist and his eye surgeon team for dinners.  How fun (but also stressful) to navigate hosting those from a different culture in your home! At a typical African meal, people don’t usually sit around a table to eat, they eat with their hands, and they usually get served a full plate rather than serving themselves. You also never know if the visitors will like our strange North American food or not! But, in spite of the differences, hosting has been a great way to get to know people.


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