12.18.2014

The Magic Lake in Mbella Asso

Hollowed out log pirogue
I've been pretty stationary in and around village, and haven't yet traveled much or done any sightseeing in the area since I've been so busy integrating, getting settled, and getting projects launched since my move. But now that I'm finally getting everything in order, I want to start exploring my beautiful arrondissement and region. The other day it was my friend and clustermate Liz's birthday, so I made the dusty trek out to see Danfili (her village) and fete with her and two of my other amazing cluster mates (Alex in Mbakaou and Brian in Ngaoundal). Danfili is a large village compared to Ngatt, but it is still without electricity; however, their food options are far more extensive than Ngatt. Danfili reminds me a bit of my old village in respects to size.

Since plans were rescheduled at the last minute and because all the food I had pre-made had gone moldy (yikes!), I woke up at 3am, worked out, and remade the banana bread cake and a Moroccan salad then grabbed the 7:30 bus to Danfili. We had arranged a picnic out at a lake in Mbella Asso, the village just next to Danfili. In the afternoon heat, we motoed out to Mbella Asso and whipped out the food. Unfortunately Liz was a bit sick, so we took it easy and relaxed in the adorable, tranquil gazebo that sits on the water's edge.

The scenery was gorgeous and calm. All the savanna grass around the lake was recently burned in order to avoid a forest fire, so the ground was an ominous, scorched black. Cattle herders walked their cows back and forth between the gazebo and the brousse and children who had just finished fishing with homemade rods began to gather around the gazebo and stared at us until they got bored, which was a bit too long for our liking.

Mbella Asso is also known as the "Magic Lake", though we aren't sure why. It does have quite the magical feel with the scorched earth, fog/smog from the savanna burning, and the mountains that flank the lake (which were obscured by the fog during this trip). The lake is also known to have a hippo population, although sadly we saw none on this trip. However, a week earlier, a family who were fishing on a homemade boat were killed (and eaten) by a group of hippos, so perhaps the hippos merely weren't showing face because they were still full.


Cattle Walking across the Scorched Terrain

We chatted, ate, promenaded around the waters edge, did some bird watching (much to Brian's dislike), and observed the cattle herders and fisherman in their hollowed out log pirogues. The highlight of the afternoon was probably the drugged Fulbe cattle herder. Yes. You heard me.

Liz and I recently discovered from our counterparts that there is this pill that the Mbororo cattle herders take, which makes them, um, enjoy their day long walks en brousse. While the drug might be temporarily 'fun' to these herders, it is actually quite dangerous, which I guess could be said about most drugs. Around Ngatt, there have been several deaths recently where fishermen have died because their boat had capsized and, because of the drugs, they didn't have the wherewithal to get to shore. There have also been reported deaths by cattle impaling the herders, which have again been attributed to these drugs. The drug (whose name I'm forgetting) is secretly sold in most boutiques around town, but it's highly illegal. But it's not like anyone is going to catch the store owners who are selling them, because there is no police force in or around Ngatt.


Such Tranquility

Anyways, this Mbororo man was walking around near the gazebo and he was clearly high on these drugs. He was walking aimlessly around, usually in the opposite direction of his cattle, and he kept spontaneously breaking out in dance. Not just little dance moves, like, I'm talking a full on dance. At one point he continuously danced for 7 minutes straight. At first we thought he was perhaps dancing to get our attention, but then we realized he didn't even so much as glance in our direction. He had no idea we were watching him. He was just in the zone and enjoying having a big, open dance floor to himself. We joked with Liz that we got her a stripper for her birthday because right after this dancing fiasco, the man stripped naked and waded into the Lake, which probably wasn't the smartest idea given the combination of drugs and deadly hippos, but, to each his own!

When our entertainment was over, read: when the dancing cattle herder left, we decided to head back and call it a night. It was a really beautiful day which reminded me how lucky I am to have such an amazing cluster and beautiful region.

Beginning to Dance. I Call this Dance Move the 'Wheres-the-Latrine?' 

Where'd He Learn the Macarena?

And He Just Keeps Going...

Bird Watching

Vibrant Lily's on the Lake

The Adorable Lakeside Gazebo

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