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THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT WEST AFRICA

  1. It is possible to buy just about anything out of your window at traffic stops in the larger villages. That includes food, drink, windshield wipers, cell phone accessories, fabric, bread, pots and toilet paper.
  2. IMG_2128  can carry just about anything on their heads – including a pail of water for the entire day, basket of fruit or vegetables, or a platter with three dozen eggs.
  3. Most women of child-bearing age have several children and they balance things on their head while carrying a baby on their back.
  4. White people affectionately known as ‘yovos’ are still a rare sight in many of the smaller villages and children will wave and cluster around you.
  5. There is no such thing as trash pick-up so it is littered throughout the IMG_2139villages. Some of it is burned but the ubiquitous ‘sachet’ or small black plastic bags that people can’t seem to live without are littered throughout the country. There is very little recycling.
  6. There is no such thing as a weight limit for a vehicle. “Bush Taxis” pile enough stuff for a small household on top of them. And yes, they do sometimes tip over. Small cars will carry 15 large bags of charcoal crammed into seats, trunk and the roof.
  7. “Moto Taxi” IMG_2132Scooters can hold FIVE people, or one person and three chicken coops, or two people, a container of water, firewood and groceries.
  8. Just because an item is on a menu doesn’t mean that they have it on hand. In fact, expect that at least two of your party’s items will not be available.
  9. Just because the lights are on when you go into a store or restaurant doesn’t mean that they will stay on all night. But that’s what cell phones are for.
  10. Children walk miles (literally) to school and they do not complain.
  11. Just about all prices are negotiated.
  12. Used American clothes are purchased by the bagful and resold on the street. It would not be uncommon for somebody to see their son’s former soccer shirt.
  13. It is commonplace for men to pee on the side of the road – anytime, anywhere.
  14. Instead of using hazard signs when a car breaks down, they use leaves or branches.
  15. People sleep anywhere – on a wooden bench, floor, etc.
  16. A road marked on a map doesn’t mean that it is paved – and if paved, there is no guarantee that it will not have major potholes in it.
  17. Water is an extremely scarce commodity.
  18. People are very poor, but very welcoming.
  19. There is a huge need for water and schools in the villages.
  20. Please consider donating to: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
    1. Bread and Water for Africa.
    2. Your local Rotary group.
    3. Peace Corp.
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