Berefet is miles different from Njawara. It is like a big fancy resort in comparison. We have huts with two to a hut and bathrooms! We each have our own bathroom with real toilets and a sink. The grounds are much larger with pretty little paths paved in clam shells, and all lined with flower beds. It is clean and bright and a bit more impersonal though that may be because we’ve only just arrived.
Last night our Fula teachers serenaded us. I wish I had had my camera/recorder/whatever. They were amazing- jumping around all over the place and doing headstands. I’m not sure of any of their names but the tall, thin, clothes hanger type man who plays the fiddle sort of instrument amuses me. (His name is Abdulie, he plays the riti, and he continued to amuse me for the rest of the week) He is very quiet but with a non-verbal wry sort of humor- sneaking up on the manic calabash drummer and stoically pretending to kick the flautist in the shin. Um, I’m not describing him well- but trust me, he is charming.
This morning we learned a couple of songs. I couldn’t tell you what the names are. The rhythm and pitch of things seem much more fluid than western or even mandinka music. I think Momodou was a better teacher but these guys don’t speak English which makes it harder. They are definitely entertaining.
The afternoon instrumental lessons were intense. Playing starught for 45 minutes. With the Riti whenever I would try to stop to rest, Abdulie- the teaceher who is so tall and thin and looks like a puppet would come by and show me what we were playing again as though I had forgotten and that was why I wasn’t playing.
In the evening Ous (the main Gambian ECCO guy) sat us down to talk about how the first week had gone and to see if we had any criticisms of requests. That turned into a Gambian history lesson that opened the floodgates on questions that we had and the converstation swam informatively on as we all moved to the campfire and continued chatting. I ended up talking to Joanna quite a bit (the only female Gambian ECCO employee) – about Gambia, about being Catholic in a muslim country, about her family, cloth, and her living situation. She is very nice.