19 December 2011

an easy weekend

We had a quiet weekend here in Bujumbura. Billy says that he is finding that, as lovely as it is, it takes a lot of energy to get through a week. Communication hurdles and language learning and cultural nuances and simply the exhaustion of navigating the unfamiliar... it is all part of living here in Burundi - and although we are joyful for every experience, it also takes some good time resting over the weekend to refuel.

This weekend we refueled with friends at a local pub eating Muchopo (spelling is my own). Part of the muchopo experience is the hour+ it takes to prepare after you have ordered, a great time to build friendships while sitting together with some drinks around a table. We played cards and welcomed new arrivals, told stories and ordered another round of drinks. (cold coke for me- somehow coke just tastes best out of a recycled glass bottle - don't you agree?)

While we visit and laugh and enjoy each other immensely, our muchopo is being slowly cooked. Small pieces of goat meat with slivers of sweet onions. Cooked until their own natural sauces are sticky and fragrant and the meat is soft (well, as soft as goat meat can be). it is served in the big metal dishes it was cooked in, along with either dense flavorless bananas or a sticky bready substance made from the cassava plant called ubusquage (again, my spelling). It is gummy and dense and they say if it is well made and wrapped in banana leaves, it can stay fresh for 100 days. We break off small pieces, mold it in our hands till it becomes like a small spoon and then scoop up our meat and onions between the starchy ubusquage and our fingers. The slightly sour taste of the fermented cassava and the richness of the slow cooked muchopo (with the splash of lemon we''ve just squeezed over the top of the entire dish) is really a nice surprise. Adding that to the special time with friends... and we are dreaming about muchopo long after the night has ended.

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