Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Shopping With Melvin


We went into the interior to check on three children whose father died last year. Melvin, our social worker, went with us to do background checks and to help with transporting the children to the local clinic for medical exams. The area we ventured into today was Melvin's old stomping grounds. He grew up in a village in this county. In fact, the physician's assistant who helped us at the clinic was Melvin's cousin.

As we left the clinic, Melvin asked if we could make a small detour on our way home. Melvin assured us it would only be a fifteen minute detour.

Thirty minutes and twelve hard, bumpy miles later, we arrived at his home town. All the villagers were happy to see him! Everyone knew Melvin. He was greeted with shouts, smiles, handshakes, and hugs. They gave him a large bag of garrah (ground up cassava root that cooks up to the texture of oatmeal) and a dead monkey. Yes, you read that correctly! A dead monkey. Dave dutifully stashed the garrah and the monkey in the back of the Land Cruiser.

We then headed back to the main road, but first we had to stop beside a stick jammed in the dirt by the side of the road. It had a plastic bag tied to it. "What is this?" was hardly out of my mouth, when Melvin jumped out of the car and ran about ten feet into the jungle. He returned with a large sack of fufu. His sister had stashed it by the side of the road and marked the spot with the stick/plastic bag. Another gift for Melvin. Fufu is fermented cassava root. It has the texture of play dough; in my opinion, play dough tastes much better than fufu. Now, the car smelled like rotten cassava. I jokingly made some comment about having a little monkey stew with the fufu, and Melvin almost got giddy with excitement! Apparently, monkey stew over fufu is the best!

One more stop before we reached the main road...for two large sacks of charcoal. Melvin is a bargain shopper, and he always gets a good price on charcoal when he goes away from Monrovia to buy it. The price is especially good when he and the charcoal-maker are childhood friends.

The back of the vehicle was now full. We delivered the children and uncle back to their village, and we headed home to Monrovia with Melvin, monkey, and fufu. It was a good day for Melvin. But a bad day for the monkey.

Wishing you all a good day, enjoying whatever foods you like best!