Tuesday, April 10, 2012

La Paque au Gabon (Easter in Gabon)

While I didn't have an Easter egg/basket hunt this year, I managed to have a pretty eventful Sunday. As are most things here, Church was quite an adventure.

I left the house around 9:30 to get a taxi and found a mess of people waiting. Now, I'm not exactly proficient (yet) in the taxi rush and haggle business. Basically, when a taxi pulls up everyone runs to it and yells where they want to go and then the driver either agrees or does not agree to take you there. The taxis are shared, so the driver will take whichever combination of people get in as long as they're going to the same place. After several failed attempts (no one wanted to take me to church) I resolved to walk.....about 45 minutes.

As a result I showed up to church incredibly late, but I think the big guy will give me a bit of a pass for this one. Plus, mass is 2 hours so by the time I got there they were starting the things that normally occur in the hour-long mass. However, there was a wooden plank of sorts acting as a barrier to the entry way. I stood outside for a couple minutes, then decided there was plenty of standing room so why not go in? As I duck under the barrier this old lady pops out of the shadows and snarls "you see that barrier? it's the same as in France. When there is a barrier at the church entrance you do not cross it!!!" To which I responded: "mam, I'm not French." She didn't think this was funny and shooed me out. Well, I did NOT just walk 45 minutes in the African sun for Easter mass to give up that easily. I stood my ground outside, and finally when everyone got up she let me in. Not only did she let me in, but she lead me to a seat next to the only other White people in the place.

Side note for all the Catholics reading this: yes the responses/prayers have been changed even in French. We also say "and with your spirit," and it's still weird. Also, for peace you grab both hands at the same time, and then some people bring their hands to their chest afterward. To me that looks more like "peace be with me," but I'm probably missing out on something.

I wish I could have taken a video of everyone singing! It was such a beautiful, celebratory occasion. When I was little, the priest at my church once chastised the congregation for clapping after the choir performed. He would have had a coronary at this place. The singing, dancing, clapping...it was all so much fun!

I did manage to get a taxi back home. The rest of the day was spent attempting hand-washing laundry for the first time (another fail. It smelled moldy. I had to rewash everything), going to the market to get homemade peanut butter that tastes smokey for some reason, and eating a fried food feast my roommate made. Weirdest Easter I've ever had.

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