One interesting thing about the villagers is how small they are. Over the past few days I had gotten to know all of the children in the village. We played games, told stories, and I watched them chatter with each other, swim, and wrestle in the sand. They asked me how old I was, and I told them 29. They all giggled and looked at me a little harder, like they were trying to verify it. I asked each of them how old they were and was astounded: I had assumed that these boys were mostly under the age of 10, but many of them were in their late teens. The average boy was a little over 4 feet tall and weighed probably 60 pounds, but was 16 years old.
I ate a few dinners that night. Papa and I first dined alone in his hut. The children set our food on a little table (more like a footstool), with a bowl of water underneath for handwashing. We ate banku with the usual fish stew, but this time it also contained chicken, whole crabs, and river oysters. The soup was very hot, so Joseph would reach into it with his fingers and pile little bits of meat on my side of the bowl where I could grab them. By this time I was getting used to eating without utensils. My first experience with banku was very difficult, and I had mostly avoided it with the rice dish the night before, but I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed the food. I ate as much as I could, swallowing little balls of banku dipped in the soup. The oysters were delicious and not too chewy. I was taught to crunch the crab shell with my teeth and spit it out on the table. I bit into a claw and it released a little burst of crab juice into my mouth, and the meat inside was delicious. I counted it a little miracle that in such a short time I was able to adapt to this new food and actually enjoy it.
Another miracle occurred during the night. The rain had stopped early in the morning, and we had experienced another hot day. I was dreading another stifling, sleepless night in the hut. Before going to sleep I prayed that somehow I would be able to sleep through the night, and I actually did. I was hot and sweating, but I laid down and promptly fell asleep. I don't even remember waking more than once or twice briefly in the night. I woke up the next morning feeling great.