Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Hot Today, Hot Yesterday....Gonna Be Hot Tomorrow." "I Reckon."

I have my very own 95 Thesis coming your way on the existence and creation of self outside known cultural contexts (see what happens when I sit down and think for like five minutes?), but I figured for now we might talk shop about other things. Like the weather.

It's June. I'll give you that its mid/late June, but its still only June. And it was 98F in the shade. Twice. It will only get hotter. Much hotter. I take some solace in the fact that everyone here thinks its hot as well - if they never made a comment I'd really feel like a baby. But it goes without saying that when we come in from a walk, I'm the only one sweating profusely and guzzling my nalgene. Though I can tell I'm getting acclimated; the first super hot day we had I was almost non-functional, but the second day, as I came back from a hike around noon thinking it was only kinda warm I looked at the thermometer to see it was almost 100 in the shade...I felt superhuman.

The weather puts a minor crimp in my style, but mostly it dictates my schedule. I know if I want to see anyone outside I have to get up and out the door early or I'll be waiting till the sun starts to go down. During midday people are in their homes. It also means I’ll usually wait to wash my hair or shower until after lunch, when there is no need for me to boil water on the stove because the tap is running hot (I kid you not).

When I first got here I would try and strike up conversation with the old standby, "Wow! It's hot today, yeah?" All I got was a pitying look, "Oh, sweetie. It ain't hot yet." This was when it was in the high 80's. I explained to people that my village in the US is never hot, that we have lots of snow and only a little sun. They laughed. A lot. Now I know - it's not hot yet.

So it’s in this spirit that I've been doing a lot more walking. 'Cuz hey, it's not hot yet. And in August I might be prone on my floor in front of a fan, which will cut down on hiking time. A few days ago I struck out on a road that leads from my village to one further up the mountainside. I wasn't sure exactly how far I'd be walking, but I'd seen a few kids coming along in the other direction, so I knew it couldn't be too far. I was right - about a mile outside of town around the corner and up a hill was the other douar. Its absolutely tiny, but filled exclusively with new homes, which struck me as a little odd. It also has a very small area of irrigated, super green cropland.

As I ran into people I got looks of surprise and a few tentative "bonjour"s. They, naturally, don't know me and thought I was a French tourist. I'd say a few words of greeting back in Tash and they'd smile. As I got back to my town, though, everyone greeted me in Tash (something I generally don't even register - they're just saying hi).

Near my house I passed an old man who lives a few doors down. Since I arrived here last month he has greeted me exclusively in French, even when I initiate in Tash. As we passed one another I gave him a nod. He replied with, "Salaam."

TashlHeet! He spoke to me in TashlHeet! For the first time! Not even at my prompting!

It goes without saying I said hello right back, beamed the rest of the way home, then treated myself to maple sugar candy. Because finally, the old man down the road knows I'm not a wacky tourist.


Blogger infatuated_w_culture said...

hey nice one with the old man. as we say here in senegal, jamm ak salam. me, im a pcv here, were not too far! good luck! if ur ever in country, youve got a place. cheers.

July 9, 2008 at 11:18 PM  

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