Last night, I stepped around the corner to the Gouem family maquis to ring in the New Year with my neighbors. A wild time was had by all. Here is the party in full swing
A debate about music, I believe; the guy on the right is a big music lover with an impressive collection of old soul and R&B tunes on his phone.
My friend Salif, with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red that he brought and we managed to kill in the course of the evening.
Attentive readers will note that we are sitting outside, alongside the street, in little plastic chairs. This is the maquis lifestyle. You do your eating and drinking outside, or, if its raining, under a little awning that sticks out from the wall of the auto body shop behind us. And since it never rains in Burkina Faso in December, the little awning is currently used as a storage spot for the refrigerator and spare cups and suchlike. There are indoor restaurants and bars, but the maquis is by far the most common hangout, even for middle-class, educated, westernized folks like the Gouems. In a two-block radius from my house, there are probably a dozen of these sorts of places. Prices are low, a dollar or two for a big beer, less than a dollar for a plate of food. The omelette and half-baguette at the other place I frequent, normally for breakfast, is 60 cents, plus another 15 cents for a cup of tea. This may explain why one of the housing options that was presented to me during the university’s abortive effort to find me a new place to live did not have a kitchen.
New Year’s is a big holiday here. Everybody celebrates Christmas, too, even the non-Christians, but New Year’s is big party time. Enormous quantities of fireworks, which kids have been setting off for weeks now and continue to echo around me as I write these words at almost 11:00 am New Year’s Day. Big drinking bouts in the evening followed by a huge meal on the day. I’m going down to the Thiam household this afternoon for their big festive get-together.
And then, of course, because I’m an American, there will be football. Not today, but tomorrow when my Ducks are playing TCU in the Alamo Bowl, apparently televised on Armed Forces Network TV, starting at 11:45 pm GMT. Todd Sargent at the embassy has kindly offered to let me watch the game at his house. I guess I’ll be spending the night there.
And then classes start again Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. I’ll need to rest up from this holiday.