Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lessons from a Marine Ball

Last night we were excited to attend our first-ever Marine Ball! It was a beautiful event, held outside in downtown Lome, with streamers and lights covering the entire venue. Along with great food, good wine and fantastic company, the night was an appropriate time and setting to learn a few new lessons.

1. No matter how pretty you are when you leave the house, or how fancy the event is, when you arrive you will still be outside in Africa. The second you step from the safety and comfort of your air-conditioned car, the sweating starts, the buzzing begins and the bat guano starts falling from the trees. Mosquitoes, bats and humidity are apparently oblivious to glorious radiance, perfect hair, beautifully applied make-up and modesty.

2. The Marines actually cut the cake with a sword! And contrary to some widely-held beliefs, it's not an appropriate time to laugh. Or offer to lick the frosting off. Or turn to Mr. Kate, hold up your butter knife and challenge him to a duel. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

3. The table with the single place setting, sitting off by itself is not simply a table set for one.  It is the table to commemorate MIA soldiers-- and therefore NOT an appropriate place to set down your wine glass and camera for just a moment while you run to the restroom to apply more bug spray. Can we hang a sign or something next year?

4. Everyone knows how to do the Gangham Style Dance. EVERYONE. Except me.

So, now that I've discovered all the Marine Ball faux-pas (and potentially ruined Mr. Kate's career... again), I'm aware of certain behaviors I can work on for next year. I'll obviously start by locking myself in the house and finding a way to stream MTV so I can brush up on my mad dancing skills for the next time someone wants to dance to a mash-up of the Harlem Shake and Gangham Style.

Happy Birthday, Marines. Thank you for a great evening!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Akateza Festival

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to attend another local festival. This festival, Fete d'Akateza, began 10 years prior as an excuse for all the villages in the area to come together and celebrate their successes and rejoice in their brotherhood. During the festival there were speeches and performances, but what stood out in comparison to most other festivals we had attended was the recognition of the top students (both male and female) in all the villages.

It was nice to see a new tradition in the works-- one that encouraged brotherhood, community and education!

Here are a few pictures from the event:

A group of hunters from a local village chant over a water filled vase that has been filled by a priest.
The vase and water represent the solidarity between their communities.
"Nous sommes ensemble"

Another hunter, surveying the crowd.

A group of women, adorned in paints and flowers, dance for the crowd.

An enthusiastic onlooker.

Babies dancing. It never stops being cute.

This kid took over the entire village performance.

So many beads.
Waiting to dance.