In English, I spoke to the director of programming about my teaching schedule. About 5 minutes into the conversation, one of my co-workers rolled his eyes and said, “Can we please stop talking about work.” I smiled and was thankful to hear and agree with something so familiar. That’s pretty much where the English ended. Many of the other conversations took place in French. Some of the conversations were about me, which I only knew about an hour later when my friend explained what was said. Here are the highlights…
I had an admirer. I knew this when the woman working in the bakery next door delivered me a bag of mango juice and two ice cream bars. Instead of sending a drink, a man who spoke little to no English sent me a bag of goodies from the bakery. He came to our table at the end of the night. I thanked him for the treats. Not knowing English, he seemed very confused by my gratitude. Other words were exchanged in French and he was on his way. I later found out that one of the guys at the table said to the man, “You’re warming up the drum for someone else to beat it.” American translation, “You’re putting in all the work, while someone else will benefit from it.”
At another point in the evening, two older gentlemen joined us. One sat next to me and greeted me in Medumba, one of the local languages. Unable to hear him, I responded in my broken French. I thought he was annoyed. He wasn’t. He was messing with me, and continued to whisper in a mix of German, Medumba and French. He was a little buzzed and getting a kick out of confusing me. I caught on (with a little help from a friend) and began to speak Spanish. He smiled and shook my hand. Touché!
After leaving the bar, I asked my friend if women would go out to a bar with a group of men the way I just had. He told me they wouldn’t, unless they had some type of high societal status or were…prostitutes. Considering I am neither of those, I’m grateful to my colleagues for including me in a fun (and interesting) night out.
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