This evening I went for a run. My hotel is near a stream, and I love being near running water. I ran on the road for a while, then starting jogging by the stream, sometimes on a path and sometimes leaping from rock to rock.
I of course have no idea where I’m going, so I repeatedly run into dead ends. There are many people around – homes are built on all sides of the valley surrounding the stream (the Congo Valley Red Pump is the full name) – and every time I run into a dead end and have to backtrack, people laugh good-naturedly. The only way to respond to this is to embrace it: I raise my arms in victory at every dead end and turn around to re-try my luck. It’s my one chance to get laughs, since my irony tends not to fly here.
Jogging along the stream is eye-opening: trash is scattered around every bend, yet people are washing their clothes, bathing, fetching water (I imagine for cooking, but maybe just for washing), and yes, even defacating (i just saw a couple of kids doing this, like peeing in the pool). This may be the only source of water around.
People are in every state of dress and undress, but no one exhibits inhibitions as I go charging past, waving and saying hello or how di bodi in Krio when I’m feeling brave. (I don’t know what anyone’s feeling, obviously.)
At one point, a group of naked six-year-old boys started chasing me up the river. I ran faster.