Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sitting in the sunset bar waiting for another imminent arrival of The Beast. All is in order, have checked all the rooms.
The plain which separates the hotel from the town of Djenné has once more returned to dust and the boys of Djenné are playing football where fishermen were recently plying the waters in their pirogues.
Events are following one upon another like flotsam carried by a fast flowing stream. Much is noteworthy, and I try and catch the individual strands of matter in order to weave it into some cohesion, but before I have grasped them they are gone: a face smiles at me, I pull it into focus, we have a long conversation perhaps on my sunset roof with a Djenne Djenno cocktail in our hands. As sure as night follows day The Question will soon pop up: ’What brought you to this alien place?’ I pick different responses according to what I feel like. I am tempted to use the splendid dialogue of Casablanca:

Claude Raines:’Why did you end up in Casablanca, Rick?’
Bogart: ‘I came for the waters’.
‘But there is no water in Casablanca!‘
‘Well, I was misinformed‘.

On nights with elderly German tourists I say I went because I saw an opportunity in tourism.
On nights with the Spanish I sometimes I say: I went to Africa as a Protest against Life, Love and God and Whatever; with some idea that this may be appropriate for the Spanish Flamenco temperament.
One favourite for the French is is ’I joined the Foreign Legion., or rather ‘I invented my own Foreign Legion.’

And then the face of my inquisitive guest is gone, carried away by the rapids. But another face is already there which will be gone in its turn before I even have time to pull it into focus, and then another and another…


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