Sunday, November 05, 2006

The African Way

Yesterday, I had invited a friend over for the afternoon.

I had to pay my rent in the morning (a 2-hour process that involves getting the entire sum in cash, going to the rental agency office in person, and taking home the handwritten receipt) so I told her to stop by after lunch. "2 o'clock or so?" I said.

And so at 10:30, I headed out to West Foire with a wad of bills. By 11:30 the deed was done, and I was on my way home. I stopped at a bakery at N'Gor, where I have to switch buses anyway, to pick up some snacks for N'diare (the friend) and I to munch on. I went with some fattening but tasty looking mini-quiches.

Once back in my neighborhood, I went to all the little grocery boutiques (and one private home) looking for Bissap juice (a local fruit that makes a tasty, red juice). Then, unsuccessful, I made a second circuit looking for Fanta. And, finally, I bought a box of mango juice.

Finally back at my apartment, parched and sleepy, at 12:45, I made myself a quick sandwich, and took a shower, and took to my bed to read and rest. Which quickly turned into a nap.

When my mother called at 10 past three, I was dead asleep.

When I finished checking my email and chatting with people online at 4, I was hungry.

I putzed around on the internet for a little while longer.

But the quiches, they were calling my name. So I cut one of them in half, brought it back to the computer, and started munching.

And then went right back into the kitchen and finished both baby quiches.

Which is kind of gross (BOTH quiches, I needed?). And also a problem because now all I had to serve my guest was some mango juice in a box.

Except it was after 4:30. I'd expected her around 2. She hadn't called to indicate she was late or on her way. Surely at this point, I should just assume she wasn't coming.

At a quarter-past five, there was a knock at the door.

There she was, with her adorable, incredibly tall 2 year old son. More than three hours "late."

Except she wasn't late. She'd prepared lunch for her family--untold dozens in two houses across the street from one another; the women take turns preparing meals--ate with them, and then come straight over. That was just how long it took.

And so I welcomed her in. I called my running buddies, who I had been supposed to meet an hour later, and told them I'd have to cancel because I had a guest. And I prentended that I'd never meant to serve baby quiches (pay no attention to the cheesy, flaky pastry crumbs on the dish on the coffee table).


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