- Prince of Palate
- Starting June 1, 2011 I embarked on a 27 month journey with the Peace Corps to Sierra Leone..this is the journal of one rambling man in Africa. I will be teaching math to secondary education students (anywhere from 7th-12th graders). I have never taught before. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
A walk in the bush....
The other day, I ran into a man in the bush. He told me about the giant concrete tub he was standing next to and how they use it to process palm oil. He told me to come back tomorrow around 2pm. Perfect! Right at the end of school. I left school the next day and hiked behind my house again into the bush. The man was nowhere to be found, but instead I found four women and around twelve children obviously hanging out and making palm oil. The big concrete tub, that looks more like an ancient stone ruin, is filled to the top with a frothy reddish green liquid. Next to it are two big oil drums filled with more red liquid bubbling and oozing from the fires beneath them. Most of the women and children only speak Mende, and after we get through the greetings, dont talk much. A few of them speak enough Krio to explain that I just missed most of the process, including the men mashing the palm fruit with their feet much like people used to do to make wine from grapes. They explain that they are now boiling the oil that they have collected from the palm fruit to get the last little bit of water out and then pouring it into big gallon containers to sell it at the market. It goes for about 1,500 Leones a pint or about 35 cents. I sat around for a little over an hour watching these women who barely make ends meet, process palm fruit into oil to cook with, getting pestered and climbed on by their half dressed children with big bulging belly buttons and dirty feet and hands. They find me fascinating, and I of course enjoy making faces at them, poking them, and allowing them to drop flying insects on my arm as they burst into laughter. My arm hair intrigues them. My head hair is a soft savannah that they cant stop rubbing. I am easy going. I take it with a smile. After I see enough I decide to head home and say my best Mende goodbye. Halfway home, the children catch up to me with a cocoa pod, which looks like a green and yellow bumpy eggplant. I accept with a smile, thank them, and continue on, wondering what i'm going to do with it. Little do I know that my neighbor children know how to open it and that the inside is filled with gooey delicious seeds. I had previously only seen the dried cacao so I never imagined this white translucent fruity goodness surrounding each bean, almost like a pomegranate. Life here, like fruit, is delicious.