Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Name Game

The cooks at the village call me "Mother". The children call me "Mrs. Veneman" or "Mr. Veneman" or "Mistress Veneman". The Mamas here call me "Sis Barbara". The people in the neighboring villages call me "Oma" (for Old Ma. That used to hurt my feelings, until I was informed that it is a sign of respect. OK, whatever! It still is painful!). The guards just call me "Sir!"

My real name is Barbara. My parents named me Barbara with the intent of calling me "Babs" as they liked the cute nickname. And so, since birth, I have been called "Babs". Only the bank, creditors, and telephone solicitors called me Barbara.

Until I came to Africa.

Liberians have a difficult time pronouncing "Babs" so I soon learned it was easier to introduce myself as Barbara. It made life smoother, as when I call myself Barbara, I do not have to repeat my name several times as confused people try to pronounce that odd, foreign name of "Babs". Barbara is a name that is more familiar to them, although it is not real common in Liberia. The nationals we see regularly call me "Sis Barbara".

(Where is she going with this, you wonder.) Well, Melvin, our social worker, had a baby. A sweet baby girl who is four months old now. She is darling. And Melvin named her "Barbara". Hm-m-m-m. We are not sure how this works here, but we might be on the hook for four years of Liberian college tuition someday! Rats.

On the other hand, I think Barbara Kiazolu is a good name! She could go far with a name like that.

Wishing you a wonderful day, without creditors or phone solicitors!
Sis Barbara

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sneaky Snakes

The girl rushed into my home and announced that she had seen a green mamba in her house. Of course, Dave had just driven out of the village, and technically, I was the person "in charge". So I bravely grabbed a bath towel ("Why a bath towel?", you ask. I do not know! It was handy!) and I called Zubah the guard.
Zubah, carrying a shovel, and myself, carrying a bath towel, carefully entered the house. We headed to the back bedroom, where the vile creature had been last seen. Brave Zubah looked under the bed, under the rug, and slowly opened the closet door. I supervised his movements from my perch on top of a dining room chair in the hallway (yes, holding my towel).
There was a lot of clanging and banging as Zubah located the disgusting critter in the closet, and beat it with the shovel. Zubah is my hero! This is not the first time Zubah has saved me from the deadly jaws of a snake. Once he saved me from a twelve inch garden snake. (I probably could have handled that one myself, except I forgot my towel.)
Zubah carefully searched the house for more snakes, but did not find any, and I thanked him as he carried the still writhing behemoth out the door (it was about 24 inches long). All was well again in the village. Yes, I had everything under control!
Later that day, I was back in the girl's house, reliving the life and death experience for Dave, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted another green mamba, as it was tucking itself behind a broom in the corner of the front room. (And me without a towel!) I calmly rushed out of the house and allowed Dave to do his manly thing and kill that creepy crawler. It was not quite as long as the first one, but it was thicker. Now Dave is my hero.
Have a wonderful, snakeless day!
Love, Babs