In the eyes of the beholder

Just before my departure from Nimba County, I ventured one last time to the rural area bordering the Ivory Coast. It is five hours from the nearest electricity.

As I was walking down the small dirt road bisecting the village of Buutu, I was entranced by all of the sites. In a 100 yard span and over just a few minutes, I jotted down what scenes were transpiring.

-Five children collecting water at a small pump and placing the buckets on their heads.

-A naked girl, about seven years-old, using a large mortar and pestle to crush cassava. She would slowly lift the heavy wooden tool over her head and then aggressively smash the vegetable.

-An elderly man lying supine on the ground in front of his one room mud house. His eyes were shut and he was taking deep breaths after long intervals. Three younger people were keeling at his side, holding his hands and praying. They were waiting for him to take his last gasp of air.

-Three women walking by with large stacks of wood piled on their heads.

-Chickens crossing the road with their brood of chicks scurrying behind and a drove of goats grazing in the grass.

-A young mother sitting in front of her mud hut, stoking the fire burning under her dark black kettle while balancing her breastfeeding baby.

-A young man with tattered, soiled clothing lying in a dirt field, reading a Jane Austen novel.

-Three middle aged men arguing loudly, flailing their arms and pointing fingers.

-Refugee families camped in the market, sleeping in any available space.

-A 12 month-old appearing baby sitting in the dirt by himself, crying. There were no adults around to hear his whimpers. He then begins to place dirty paper and plastic in his mouth.

-A one-legged man racing by on his motorcycle, driving recklessly and weaving in and out of the crowd. I have a few guesses how he lost his leg.

-Dogs fighting and then making up.

-A four year-old appearing child carrying a baby on her back in the traditional fashion. A cloth was wrapped around the behind and back of the baby, and tied in the front of the caregiver.

-A mother carrying a load of dishes and water on her head with twin two year-old appearing girls in tow. When a motorcycle races by, she drops all of her goods on the ground and quickly reaches back to grab her children. Moments later, she cleans up her supplies with trembling hands.

-A group of young men play volleyball with a deflated soccer ball as the long rays from the setting sun disappear over the horizon.

-The town chief arrives and shakes my hand. I did not recognize her in a fishnet “Obama Girl” shirt.


3 Responses to “In the eyes of the beholder”

  1. Khattab Says:

    Great read Chris. Visualizing it al.

    Be well,


  2. Khattab Says:

    Great read Chris. Visualizing it all. Until the next adventure…

    Be well,


  3. Kathleen Says:

    Wow. Thanks for the image. There are so many different things going on it is unclear how to feel about this. It is sad and peaceful and funny and frightening all at the same time.

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