An Wato Guinea, Det!

So we're doing it- heading back to Guinea. Stay tuned for details of our journey back to a place we love.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Photos: Our Last Week in Guinea

I've been back from Guinea almost a month and I've just now looked at the photos I took from our last week there. It's difficult to look at them. They're recent enough that they actually invoke visceral memories. Something in my stomach is still there when I see these images- that sick butterfly feeling I had before leaving. It's a mixture of dread and disbelief and uncertainty-that pre-goodbye feeling you get when you're not sure when you'll see someone again and if it'll be the same when you do. For me, this feeling is magnified when it comes to saying goodbye to children. While a few years away from an adult friend or family member seems long (and it is!) reunions are usually more about catching up on details and life events as opposed to getting to know a new version of that person. But with kids it's different. Leaving a 6 year old and then finding them again at, say, age 12 is pretty dramatic. Suddenly this person you knew so well has been magically transformed by forces other than you. And it pushes questions of memory to the limit- do they remember me? From what perspective? A six year old's? A twelve year old's? And is memory even relevant after so many years?
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I know from this time around, though, that memories are collective. Max knew me from photos and family stories even though he hadn't actually remembered me himself (I left Guinea in 2002 when he was only 5months old). And it reassures me to have experienced first hand the presence of a type of intangible essence of someone that never goes away. I couldn't have imagined the child that Max would become or the kid that Yai would grow up to be, and yet, upon seeing them again this time around it all made sense. "Of course that's Max!" I thought when I saw him in December. It couldn't have been anyone else. I had only known him for 5 months and yet, somehow, it was enough. And I still know him. And I still know Yai and Papice and Bijou. That won't go away. It doesn't make looking at these photos any easier, but it brings me some comfort.
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These first few photos are from the day we said goodbye to Na and Max. The two of them accompanied us to KanKan and spent our last 5 days there with us at our house. We took these photos right before we all walked to the taxi park our last morning there, right before we sloshed through all the thick red mud and puddles, our baggage sliding off our heads and backs, right before we waited for hours at the taxi park and ate meat on a stick and steamed cassava and right before we got in the car to Conakry and said goodbye.
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Max and me


Na, Matt and Max

Na and Max
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A few photos of those last few days at our house:
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Max taking a quick break between crazy kung-fu moves

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Max and Matt doing kung-fu
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Moussa (left) and Amadou the night before we left KanKan.

I'm including a few photos of Moussa for my friend and former site mate Josh who was the Peace Corps math teacher in Kerouane when I was there. Moussa was a kid back then and was Josh's student and friend. Josh would probably describe their relationship differently (more humbly) but it was obvious to me that Josh was Moussa's mentor and inspiration. Moussa is all grown up now and just finished his 2nd year at the University of KanKan where he is an economics major. Through our communication while I was back in Guinea Josh was able to give Moussa a scholarship for summer computer classes at the cyber cafe Matt and I frequented in KanKan. Matt and I did the same for Amadou. Most people don't have access to computers in Guinea so this was a huge deal. I know it will help them with future career opportunities and self-education but I'm just selfishly hoping they learn how to email soon.

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Moussa

Moussa and Amadou

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A few photos from our last few days in Kerouane before traveling to KanKan:


Bijou and Yai. The three of us went on a nice walk on my last evening in Kerouane


The two game boards that Matt had made! Matt and Sekou Toure playing backgammon in the background and Papice and Jiba playing African Checkers in the foreground.


Matt and Max chill'en with their matching bandanas


More photos to come. And I really hope to be able to call the family in Keroune soon. I'll let you all know as soon as I do.
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For now I'm in California with my mom. She's recovering quite well but still has a ways to go. I've decided to stay here most of the summer to help out. I'm taking two summer classes at the local Jr. College while I'm here. Matt was here last week and is with his brother right now. I'll go visit them next weekend.
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The fires here are really bad. I'm going crazy cooped up in the house. It doesn't seem to be doing much good seeing as how the smoke has somehow made it into our house. I can't stop coughing. Reminds me of August in Missoula last year. Is the smoke following me or am I following the smoke? Stay tuned for smoke and fire photos from Lelouma, Guinea where, apparently, slash-and-burn never goes out of style.
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3 comments:

Jeffrey Attaway said...

Really enjoying all your post. Photos are great through your words bringing much more meaning to the photos...

Carlos said...

Amadou is wearing a Real Madrid jersey. He is a clever guy...

;-)

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