I hereby challenge you all to a Mancala tournament upon my return to the States.
What's Mancala, you ask?
It's that game that everyone's seen but most people don't know how to play:
I learned how to play it about a month ago, and sat there with a few other volunteers who'd gotten equally hooked, wistfully discussing how cool it would be to get a mancala board hand-carved here.
Then yesterday, I was at the Fajara Craft Market (which my parents and I found when they were here) and discovered one. I like the Fajara Craft Market, because it has mostly the same stuff as the other craft markets here, but is less well known, so people are more pressed to make a sale and I can get much lower prices there. (A tourist can't, and sometimes when I hear the prices they're bargaining at, I have to resist the impulse to jump in and tell them they're being charged triple. But hey, it's the price you pay for coming to a country without any grasp of the language or culture. End soapbox.)
It started at 800 dalasi (over $30), but I got it down to half that. I'm really excited because Mancala's a great game (easy to learn but lots of strategy), plus the set makes a cool looking souvenir. I bought the really big one that'd make a cool display piece in the middle of the room or something. Probably my favorite souvenir from Gambia (and I've bought a lot of them). It's a good thing I have a bit of wiggle room in my luggage.
So, starting next week, I'm going to teach you all how to play!
****************************In other news, last night was Peace Corps' third open mic. I did a couple things, but they had to be a capella as, alas, I've sorta set the guitar aside during my PC service. (I brought my guitar, but I'd get it out to play when I was feeling stressed out by Gambia, only every time I played my front door would be mobbed, which just stressed me out more.) It was cool though. PCV's are, seemingly by definition, a very artsy and musical bunch. (Intimidatingly so!) Cass usually reads a poem or two about PC life, and they always make me teary. In November she read one called "Touch," about how as PCV's we get almost no physical contact and so are constantly wrestling our host siblings for SOME human touch, though it's still not enough. Last night she read one about how we're leaving the people who understand our stories and what we've gone through the past two years for people who are just going to nod and look at us blankly. (Nothing personal to people back home! That's just how it is.)
And finally, as of approximately this week, the new must have fashion item in Kombo iiiiiiisssssss *drumroll please*...........
The propeller hat.
I know, I know, you have that picture in your head of what I mean by propeller hat, but you're telling yourself "that can't be what she means..." Allow me to clear up the confusion:
Yes. You are correct.
It's so bad that I was late getting somewhere because I'd gotten in a taxi whose driver decided to interrupt the route to drive in circles trying to go around to different vendors for the best deal on a propeller hat. I eventually got so mad I yelled at him in Mandinka, got out of the car, and walked the rest of the way, even after the driver pulled back up in his propeller hat and tried to get me back in the car.
I will NOT be bringing home a souvenir propeller hat. So don't even ask.