We got the chance to take a morning trip up the second highest mountain in our city yesterday. On the way up, we stopped at an overlook to get a picture. As usual, we were immediately surrounded by children and these children had whips that they had made that they wanted to sell us. They had popping them down to an art and it made a ridiculously loud noise. They let us take pictures and showed us how to do it all the while popping along and leaving a ringing in our ears. The popping wasn’t so nice, but the view was beautiful!
After that, we stopped at a wooded area at the top just to walk around. All through the woods were trails – I think I might have found some new running paths. If only my lungs could hold out at 10,000 feet! This spot would have been a perfect place to come get away from the world except that it too was soon filled with children coming to see the firinge and be our tour guides. They told us all sorts of information about the mountain and the origin of the city below it. In all there were probably about 12 children walking with us, holding our hands, and taking photos with us. At one point, I asked to take a picture of some of them and asked them how to say “smile” in their language. They told me, so when I took the picture I told them all to smile. They all started giggling and laughing out loud and I looked around at my language coach who was with us assuming that I had said something really wrong. She informed me that the word for “smile” and “laugh” are the same in their language. So, when I told the kids to “smile” what I had really said was “laugh.” After that, I had to say it a few more times just to witness them laughing on command. It was hilarious!
We also went to a church that was in a cave on the side of the mountain and walked even further into the woods for a better view of the city from the overlook. When it was all finished, these kids who I wanted to think just wanted to spend time with us, all asked us for money for being the tour guides. Never mind that we didn’t want or ask for a tour guide and there was no way really to get rid of them anyway. One of the guys gave them what was considered a generous amount for this culture, but the kids asked for more. When I asked later, I was told that no matter how much you give them, they will always ask for more and say that what you gave them was not enough even if what you gave them was more than generous. All I know is that I am a sucker and would totally feel guilty for not giving more. So many things in this culture that I am going to have a hard time learning and dealing with.
In the pictures below, you can see a couple of overviews of the city, a boy cracking his whip, the cave church, some of the boys smiling/laughing as I took their picture, and some of the literally backbreaking labor that the women around here do – up and down this huge mountain. Oh, and you’ll also see me representing UGA everywhere I go : )