Thursday, November 29, 2012

Arriving in Bissau

At the Airport it hit me. I'm going to Guinea-Bissau. It was at the airport where most of the conversation around me switched from Portuguese to Creole. It was at the airport where the drastic demographics it went from bring a pretty mixed crowd to a mostly African crowd. It hit me hard as I began realized I wasn't just getting on another plane, I am going to AFRICA! Thoughts that going to Bissau was either the best or worst decision I've ever made started running through my mind. Things are going to be so different. There's no turning back now!

We arrived in Bissau in the Early morning, around 1:30.  The first thing I noticed was the smell of the air. It reminded me of Brazil but was a lot drier and had earthier undertones.  Looking back as I got off the plane I got an amazing view of the moon, trees, and the plane with a stair ramp rolled up to it. Either out of ignorance or fear, probably a little bit of both, I didn't take a pull out my camera to take a picture. At least I have the mental picture!

The whole airport experience was pretty funny. It is definitely an airport, but its also one of the least official airport experiences I’ve ever had. It felt like had just gotten off a taxi and walked up to a small building to wait for my luggage.  For being so late it was crazy outside the  airport doors! People waiting for guest and people trying to make a buck by helping you with your things to the car. Overall it’s a hectic scene and it definitely keeps you on your toes. I can't believe my family didn't lose anything with 25 pieces of luggage in that scenario.

We arrived at Alice’s house. She is the wife of my step-dads brother, or his sister in-law. I hadn’t seen her since I was 8!  Ramos got a room to him self. I slept in the bed with Alice and one of the children she took in slept on the floor.  As I got into bed I immediately understood my privacy level was going to drop significantly. I woke to my 9 year old cousin pulling off my sheets, her face full of rice.  Her older sister and another cousin ran in to pull her away. The house is always lively! My Aunt has taken in several children who were in need of a home and Ramos’s nephew Manecus is out of town so his kids  also came over. 

For some reason being here feels familiar. I keep having deja vu! I’m not struck in awe by my surroundings nor do I feel at home. I feel like I'm in some of the poorer areas of Brazil that I had visited while studying broad. Fortunately I have been able to get by with my Portuguese so far.  If  someone doesn’t speak it they definitely understand it. I, on the other hand, am hitting the ground hard (and not running) with creole. The pronunciations are a lot more difficult for me to sound out, and it makes the words that much harder to remember.

I've been camera shy lately because I'm still taking it all in. I'll have more pictures soon!

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