Hey Gals and Guys,
Greetings from Guinea!
Living in the United States, one of the things I miss the most about living in Africa is getting days off of work/school for Easter. Growing up in Ghana, we always had Good Friday and Easter Monday off (we also celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha). In the States, even though Easter isn’t an official holiday, I always go all out for Resurrection Sunday. I spend all day Saturday getting my hair done and I wear a new dress (usually sewn in Ghana during my Christmas trip) to church on Sunday. For the past four years, the highlight of my Easters has been breaking lent. Even though I’m not Catholic, for the forty days leading up to Easter, I give up all meat. Last Easter, I had dinner at Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse and spent the rest of the week sick LOL. This year, I didn’t wear a new dress or even go to church at all, but I did get my hair done on Saturday, and Hassmiou made sure that I still had a great Easter
Let’s start with Friday! Guinea is a predominantly Muslim country and so Good Friday is not celebrated here. Fortunately, on Fridays we have half-days at work and so it still felt like we were still getting a holiday. The Mission Director had a small get together at her house that evening for all of the visitors in town. We lounged around, eating hors d’oeurves and drinking local drinks like Bissap and Gingembre. Gingembre is a local ginger drink that I’ve come to love (Hassmiou found out and now my fridge is stocked with it!) It was a nice evening, but I couldn’t stay too long, I had a long day ahead of me on Saturday.
Now some background on my hair situation in Guinea: A couple of weeks into my trip I decided to get my hair braided because the humidity here was jacking my style (check out The Other City that Never Sleeps for my before-and-after pic). Alpha suggested that I have his cousin, Oumou, braid it for me, but I declined because I wanted my hair to be on point and Oumou is not a professional hairstylist. I’m also very proud and did not want Alpha doing any favors for me (we aren’t on the best terms). I decided to go with Zinabu, my Mission Director’s stylist instead. I figured since she did a good job on Michelle’s hair, she should be able to handle mine. I also thought it would be cool to share a hair stylist with the Mission Director. Long story short, Zinabu did a horrible job and I had to walk around looking like a rat for two weeks. 😦 On Saturday I put my pride aside and had Oumou braid my hair.
Oumou is around my age and spent two years in Ghana learning English. She had her heart broken by a Ghanaian man and so we had A LOT to talk about. We spent the entire afternoon listening to music and bashing men (including her cousin)- FUN TIMES! She did an amazing job on my hair and I’ve received several compliments this week on it. By the time she was done with my hair, I was exhausted, but I had agreed to go out with a gentleman from the embassy, and I could not think of a good enough excuse to get out of it.
A couple of weeks ago, Hassmiou introduced me to this gentleman at the embassy because he has ties to Ghana. From our first meeting, I knew the man had issues, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. The gentleman showed up at my hotel around 8:45 p.m. but we decided to wait for his friends by the pool. After about 20 minutes of talking to this man, my fears were confirmed: I was in for a terrible night! For some reason, this man thought it was a good idea to tell me about his numerous drunk-driving episodes and various run-ins with the law. It took every ounce of courtesy in my body to not get up and just walk back to my room.
I never mentioned to anyone that I was going out with this guy, but as we were leaving my hotel I received a text from Hassmiou notifying me that he was the driver-on-duty for Motor Pool that night, and that if for any reason I needed a ride home from anywhere, I should call and let him know.
Another long story short, Hassmiou picked me up an hour later from a club called The Boulevard 🙂
On Sunday, I woke up very excited. After forty days and forty nights, I could finally eat CHICKEN! Hassmiou had been planning a nice Easter date, and so I decided to skip breakfast and wait for Hassmiou to eat. I was hungry but figured if I had made it that long, I could wait till 1 p.m. As I was doing my makeup, Hassmiou called. I was expecting him to say he was on his way, but instead he told me we would have to wait till 3 p.m. for lunch. Some boys from the opposition party had blocked the main road to my hotel and were fighting with the police. I was starving, so I ordered a club sandwich from the restaurant downstairs. I never told Hassmiou about the sandwich. He had been planning my first “meat” dish for a while and I didn’t want to take that away from him.
When he finally arrived, we first went to this spot called “Mille Patte” (French for “A Thousand Paws”). It’s a cute restaurant on the ocean, similar to Obama Club, but with more space and much quieter. We hung out there for a couple of hours, just talking about life. We discussed our friends and families; my dreams of becoming Secretary of State, his dreams of becoming a police officer (he’s a tad bit less ambitious than me). It was really nice!
From there we went to the “Frois Nationale”. Think “State Fair”, but without the rides. At first I was a bit nervous about going there. There were thousands of people and in the context of Ebola, that is a recipe for disaster. But I was armed with my hand sanitizer. We also had to wash our hands with bleach three times just to get inside. The fair was fun and it was nice hanging out with regular Guineans for a change, instead of other expats. With my dark complexion I fit right in (I actually fit in almost everywhere in Africa. In Dakar everyone starts off speaking Wolof to me. In Tanzania, everyone swears I’m Maasai!).
From there we went back to Obama Club for dinner. I had chicken-on-a-stick and fried plantain with an Obama Cocktail 🙂
Even though I didn’t wear a new dress, or listen to a sermon from my favorite pastor (who I miss dearly!), I had a very happy Easter!