1. A parade of pickup trucks and motorcycles, beeping their horns as they make their way through town. All the women are decked out in green dresses and fancy hair styles. Men are dressed in matching suits and children are in white. Most are gripping balloons and shouting while others clap and whistle. It is a wedding party celebrating like they are welcoming the New Year.
2. The battle of “Little Drummer Boy” vs “Living On A Prayer”. Both at full volume right outside the cafe where I get my first cup of coffee in six days. It is the BEST coffee and I am enjoying every sip of this cup.
3. Six beautiful goats get loaded into the trunk of a taxi.
4. A man carrying a basket of fingernail polish, scissors, clippers, etc, making pedicure house calls.
5. The man I call The Prophet. I don’t know why, but perhaps it is the way he stands with outstretched arms sometimes, looking at the sky or when he stands on one leg, staring into space for a very long time. Unbathed for many months, he sits outside the guest house where I stay, rain or shine. I always take him something to eat and sometimes he places it on his head. Sometimes he gets right down to it and eats. Sometimes he just accepts it and places it beside him to eat later. He never makes eye contact with me, nor does he talk to me, but we don’t fear each other. Some say he is my friend.
6. Three men and a wheelbarrow on a motorcycle.
7.The Prime Minister of the Central African Républic’s arrival to the memorial service, arriving with much noise, an entourage of guards, a flashing camera, and expectation.
8. An unexpected rain shower. So much fun to watch it approach and grow in sound and power, drowning out all other noise while dropping the temperature, creating my first wonderful night for sleep
9. Men diving for sand, dragging bucketfuls over their heads as they gasp for air when they pop out of the water. The sand is thrown into a dugout canoe until it is full. Then, it is sold to construction companies or to families who need it. Hard, hard work!
10. Children decked out in blue gym uniforms, walking down the dirt road towards a stadium for gym class because their school doesn’t have space for this.
11. Motorcycle taxis everywhere, taking people to work. We go against traffic because our destination is on the left and our driver doesn’t think it is worth crossing the road to go with the flow. We dodge oncoming cycles, cars and people, beeping to let them know we are here. I am no longer afraid, allowing myself to be awed by a makeshift Christmas market, replete with tinsel and tissue paper balls as we make our way to the clinic once again. Later, we head to the open food market to haggle for veggies, eggs and rice, which I carefully place in my backpack before getting on another bike to return home, snug between the driver and a tired Mandaba.