Originally written July 9th
On Monday, we were working on the latrine pipes when we were invited up to a party that Brad, one of the Duke students, said his family was having. Akisawé, our truck driver, lives with him so thinking that the party was to thank us for our good business (we paid him a lot for transporting everything) we thought it’d be rude not to go. When we arrived, we were surprised no one else from Farandé had come, but we had a good time anyways eating dog, whiskey, and rice. Just as it was about to get dark, we noticed a few dark clouds and decided to head back down in case it rained.
Turns out, we were already too late. We ran down the rocky path as it started drizzling and some children yelled for us to get under a tree. Thinking that it would only pour for a couple minutes or so, we hid under a small one with a thick trunk as the rain picked up. As it grew more intense, Connor crouched down and hugged our bookbags into a crevice under the leaning tree while I did my best to hide under the branches. The rain then started pouring so hard that a fast paced river was soon racing down the path we’d just climbed. We were both completely soaked in a few minutes and just stared at all of the wetness around us.
Eventually we realized that we needed to get to a better spot but after sprinting to a towering baobab, we saw that the true storm had barely started and a huge, ominous cloud was hurrying our way. Seeing a homestead closeby, we jumped up terraces and raced there just as night was falling. Tentatively, we entered saying “Kafara” (excuse me). An old man walked out and immediately told us, “Je ne parle pas Français”. Thankfully, two other women and a child also lived there and spoke a little French. We were able to get across that we needed shelter and all of us sat together on a couple of small stools to wait out the storm. It was completely pitch black at that point and all you could hear was water pounding on the roof and thunder sometimes rolling, sometimes letting out a deafening crack, while flashes of lightning lit up the sky.
After about an hour of the most impressive natural water and light show I had ever seen, we decided that the rain had let up enough to leave. However, the old lady seemed confused and asked us multiple times if we were going back up to Kuwdé or down to Farandé. We tried to explain that we wanted to walk up the short path towards Kuwdé and then go down on the main road but she didn’t seem to understand. Finally, she stood up and began to walk out of the homestead. Confused and anxious, we followed her.
For the next twenty minutes or so, we followed the 80 year old woman over the slippery, rocky path with a couple flashlights. On the path, puddles were like ponds and it was pointless to do anything but walk through them. Eventually we came to a river with water charging past us. Alarmed, we told our guide that she didn’t have to cross but she just laughed, pulled up her skirt, and waded across. We held our breath hoping she wouldn’t get washed away and were so relieved when she made it to the other side. Tenderly, we waded in too, the water coming up to our knees, and crossed the river without a scratch.
Once the ground leveled out, the old lady asked us if we knew our way and we reassured her that we did and thanked her as best as we could in Kabiye. Before we had left the home, we had tried to give her some money for letting complete strangers into her house but she had refused. So instead, we told her we would buy her family beer at the next market and her face broke out into another huge grin.
By then the rain had mostly stopped but we still walked for maybe an hour or so before reaching our homestead. The path was ridiculously muddy and truly flooded all over that I almost lost my shoes a couple times. Over the splashing of our feet, we could hear frogs and insects incessantly calling to each other. There were more rivers (but none as fast as the first one) and at one point the water came right up to my shorts. We talked along the way and tried to convince each other that anything we felt in the murky water was just plants and rocks.
Several times, Connor and I would look at each other and just start laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was. He told me how we were lucky that there was no wind since he had gotten hypothermia last year in a similar situation. When we finally reached our homestead I was inexplicably overjoyed to see that Reine had prepared hot water for us. That night, I took the best shower of my life.