24 little hours…
My stop in Grand-Popo was wonderful, as much for it’s relaxed quiet as for the chance to see local life at work. The area had a number of hotels, but as it was the off-season they were all fairly quiet. I was able to walk the beach for kilometers without interuption, save for walking around or crawling under fishing nets. The nets were anchored on shore and then rowed out to sea before being dragged in by teams on shore- all without much more than a hint of modern technology.
It was fascinating to watch, and I grabbed a couple of pics. After taking the last pic I was waved over by some of the guys on the line and I expected the inevitable- I took a picture so now I must pay. I was kind of pissed since it was a distance shot and normally you only get a hard time if try for a close up. Since I was going in their direction I wasn’t going to turn around, but I was certainly wasn’t going to give anyone anything. Stupid assholes I thought as my anger from the previous day flowed back into me…
“Hey, white man!”
Keep walking, just keep walking.
“Hey, white man- come here!”
Screw you! Just walk by them. Does everything always have to be like this?
“Come on! Help pull the rope! Give us a hand! ”
Without really thinking, I grabbed some rope between the last guy and the woman wrapping the loose end around a post. After a few minutes of pulling (luckily they had most of the line in already) they started wrapping the net around to bring the fish in and me, with my complete ignorance of anything related to what they were doing, was sent on my way with friendly waves, laughs, and a very cute giggle from the woman behind me.
Walking away I knew I had almost missed a great little moment because I had let myself become too jaded and hardened against Africa and Africans. You have to do it to a certain extent, but I needed that kick to tell me that I had gone too far. The rest of my walk back was spent reliving other encounters and wondering how many I had left unexperienced simply because I was too busy knowing what was going to happen.