Monday, August 22, 2011

A day in Brazzaville.

The week started off with a genuine kick in the ass: two-hours of African dancing with Goga, my dance instructor. When you dance African with 100% effort, it’s a friggin’ aerobic workout. I’m glad I did Insanity for the past two months, feeling prepared to handle the energy output required for the dance. He is constantly pleased with my passion, my fast learning, my desire for a challenge, and my base skill as a dancer. I think it’s fun for him, working with someone so eager to study African and executing it well.

We always draw a crowd during our sessions. The rhythmic thumping of a drum accompaniment serves to advertise the commencement of our rehearsal. We spent a little over an hour running through the dances for last time and refining the movements.

Shirtless and dripping with sweat, he beams a smile at me and says something in French. “He wants to know if you finished,” a bystander translates. (The person’s name is Master Cool, as a random aside. What he did to deserve the epithet, perhaps I will never know.)

“No! Press on! More! Kassa-kassa!” I shout. (It means “energy” in Lari.) Goga’s face lights up and he shouts back, “Kassa-kassa!” shaking his fists in front of him as if ready for a fight. “Kassa-kassa!” I return one last time, then we’re on to more dancing.

Lunch of bread+avocado, plus many bananas and oranges. And a couple blocks of chocolate.

Accidentally napped for an hour. Then it’s off to my drum lesson. My teacher was pleased with how quickly I’d pick up the rhythms. It is clear, however, that drums are less intuitive than dance for me. My mild dyslexia gets in the way, so that about a minute into maintaining a rhythm, my hands get confused and mix everything up. Then I have to stop and reset.

We will do a performance of my work before I leave. When I spoke with Goga later in the evening, he said he is so happy working with me. Said he was willing to work for a discount because I bring such energy to the lesson. Also, that I would be ready to tour by the end of our time together. Some of that is probably blowing sunshine up my ass – there’s no way I could compete with the professional-caliber African dancers out there – but boy howdy it sure does feel good.


At my request, we visited a supermarket downtown. It really was like a supermarket, albeit a small one by American standards. Wandering through the aisles, I reminisced of home. Normally I despise supermarkets, i.e. Walmart, and all that they stand for, but I’ve even come to miss these paragons of capitalism from the States. There is something comforting about the wide range of available foods, from jams and dark chocolate to crackers and frozen dinners. All with fancy packaging. When your normal source of salt comes in a small plastic pouch of plastic wrap, it is surprisingly pleasant to see a container properly labeled “Salt.” Or “sal,” as they say. (I think.)

I ate cheese for the first time in 2.5 months. A gouda chevre. Tears came to my eyes, so overwhelmed was I with emotion at the explosion of dairy flavor in my mouth.


Later that evening…

Journaling with a handful of children perched around me, whispering in Lari and French. It’s about 8:30 pm; the compound is dark for lack of electricity. Drawn to the soft glow of my laptop like moths to a lamp, they crowd around the chair. All I’m doing is journaling. It’s not particularly interesting, yet they are fascinated with the process. (They did get quite excited when I showed them the photo from Friday of me with Pierrick, Manaset, Spirit, & co.) Listening to Zoe Keating, which reminds me of home. I feel much more centered today.

1 comment:

gretchen de mochi said...

cheese, chocolate, excellent dancing, adorable children; I like how you center yourself.