Thursday, June 23, 2011

alpha-blog pause

we are pausing. i'll get back to it, i've got big plans for the letter C. but i just wanted to take this opportunity to plug my project, and, obviously, ask for money. you can write it off when you do your taxes!

i'm a member of our country's gender and development committee, and myself and a few other members got together to make a proposal for a camp for middle school girls talking about caring for the environment. we've talked to quite a few organizations here, and drawn a lot of support from the community, and, thankfully, the US embassy. But we are relying on this grant, donations from home, for the backbone of our budget. your money will go to lodging for the girls, teaching aids, food, travel, guest speakers' travel, and our big last night talent show (environmentally themed, of course. who can do the best Earth-friendly teaching activity?). it's hard to imagine in America, but these girls are growing up in a country with a rapidly-growing population (the majority of the population is under 15 here) and no real solid-waste disposal infrastructure. it's a plastic bag graveyard over here, and it's only going to get worse. we're aiming to give the girls strategies for avoiding plastic use, ideas about re-using aluminum, glass, paper, and other normally thrown-away items, and pairing this all with a series of activities geared towards giving them ability to go home and tell all their friends. in addition, we're asking prominent female community members who serve in relevant fields to talk about environmental awareness, so it's not just coming from us. in a place where every day is a struggle, conservation isn't an everyday theme. we know we're not going to change all that with 30 girls and 5 days, but we also know that starting on the ground instead of in the sky is a much more practical approach. so please check it out (there's a much more vocabulary-ridden description for you there), dig deep, and help us help Gambia.

Friday, June 10, 2011

B is for Bumster. or Boss Lady.

*****this post contains adult themes********

What is a bumster? The question is not what, but who? And there are many of these "whos" around here. A bumster is the term for a male sex worker, a male prostitute. They patrol the beaches, clubs, and other high tourist-traffic areas of the Gambia, looking for their prey: the Boss Lady. IF, and this is a mighty big if, with tourism plummeting, they happen to find that special Boss Lady, she will accept him as her "tour guide." Then she will buy him things, pay him for sex, or simply fall in love with him and marry him, so he can go back to wherever she's from and reap the benefits of no longer living in a third-world country. It's a good reason to hustle. However. Bumsters are some of the most obnoxious people on the planet. Especially to unmarried white women. Also, just because a man has never been compensated for sex before doesn't mean he's not up to try. 97% of Gambian men have a little bit of bumster in them. If they're hassling you to marry them and get them a visa, you can say you're being "bumstered," it's not just about the carnal relations. So let me amend my earlier definition; a bumster is a term for a male sex worker, a hustler, or a wannabe trophy hubby. Good?
Despite all their annoying tendencies, when bumsters are not talking to you, well, they're hilarious. The squats and thrusts they do on the beach to simultaneously tone their bodies and get the lady tourists to notice them. They wear outrageously tight and revealing clothing, usually women's jeans. They preen. The sad yet funny spectacle of the 22 yr old stud and his 65 yr old girlfriend...he doesn't care who he's with, as long as she foots the bill. It leads to excellent discussions, do you think they're in love? How did they meet? The way they will hit on each of your friends in short order, undaunted by rejection. "oh, you have american boyfriend? that's ok. i will be your gambian boyfriend." The names they give themselves to make them sound tough or cool. My favorites so far: Powerful Striker, More Fire, and No-Waste Timeless.

I do, however, absolutely hate being called boss lady. Sometimes they will holler at you, to get your attention, "hey boss lady! hi!" It's the worst. It makes you feel like you're giving off that desperate "i cam e to this country to get hitched" vibes you get from some of the tourists.

This man is not a bumster. He is an employee of the reptile farm of the Gambia. He is, however, wearing a mesh tank top, otherwise known as a "bumster jersey." They have been dubbed so because many bumsters favor them because they give the illusion of being fully-clothed while still allowing you to show off every last muscle. Also it's hot here, and they're just trying to keep cool. Right.

Some bumsters on the beach. For obvious reasons, I didn't want to get to close. Note the excellent push-up form.