The final 24 hours

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Here is more detail on the inauguration and completing the school, from Drew, who must have written this while on board the train to Franceville.

Despite some last minute issues-rain storm on Monday which showed abundant leaks from the school roof, the accident of the truck bringing the material for the long negotiated solution- the school is finished. It was well into the darkness of Friday night with headlamps on our foreheads and insects in our eyes that the last of the aluminum/tar ridge cap was melted in place.

We retired for well deserved Regabs and atangas. Then the skies opened up and the rain poured. An inspection showed 3 minor leaks which will easily be taken care of.

Now comes Saturday morning and the wait for the ambassador and other dignitaries to show up. Preparations for the arrival included lots of food from antelope and chat hurlant to canapés and cake, and the planting palm fronds all along the road and the village women dressed in dresses of the same cloth (including Claire) to the appearance of drums which we had not heard previously.
Then around 1:30 the parade of vehicles arrived led by Bob and Gaston, then followed by two silver Chevy Suburbans with diplomatic plates and followed by several others. With drums beating the women started singing, "Madame l’ambassador est arrivee."

After an appropriate time of watching the dancing, Cynthia Akuetteh went down her first receiving line of her first village visit of her first up county visit since becoming ambassador late last year.
Doumandzou, the eagle’s nest, then welcomed the ambassador with speeches, more singing and more drumming. Bob and I gave brief speeches on Peace Corps and Encore de la Paix and the fact that we completed the school and were able to get most of the work on the teachers houses into the budget and completed, emphasizing that the village’s responsibility was to complete the houses.

Then there was a photo show (an extension cord leading from Bob’s laptop and projector in one classroom to Papa’s house) showing the very early stages of the school and teachers’ houses (wonderful photos taken by Henk), then a walk to the village dispensary and finally back to Papa’s place for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. I managed to get a seat and a glass and was waiting for a Regab when Gaston slips up with a 2 liter plastic container with a milky white liquid- tutu PALM WINE!!! For the first time au village. And it was good.

The ambassador doesn’t like traveling at night and since that was our ride out, we had quick but emotional goodbyes (the women were literally not letting Claire go) and bid au revoir to le Centre du Monde.


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