I heard a Hausa proverb that had something to do with relationships and feet . . . I don't remember what it means, but I remember that 'visiting' was mentioned in the conversation.
Regardless of culture, nationality, or people group, relationships are developed through time spent together and the sharing of experiences. It is, however, culture, nationality, and people group that determines and defines the quantity of time necessary and which experiences are shared when developing relationships.
And here in Niger the key element to friendship building is without question: visiting.
So that's how I spent my weekend.
Now, you need to know . . . if I could pick a way to make friends, drop-by visiting is not what I would choose. With the exception of a (very) select few who I know love me regardless of the state of my (most like disastrous) kitchen, I HATE drop-by visits . . . HATE. I don't like making them and I don't like receiving them.
But here in Niger, that doesn't matter.
If I don't drop-by I won't have friends.
Granted, this weekend wasn't exactly 'drop-bys', both of my new friends had forgotten that we had planned that I would come by . . . but I guess pre-planning sort of defeats the purpose of just-stopping-in-to-say-hello-for-an-hour-or-so.
So yesterday at 4, I showed up at E.'s house. Four hours later, I was on my way home with a headfull of tiny twisty-braids. It was the first time E. had ever platted 'hair like mine'. She told me it was more slippery than she was used to.
She also told me about the cultural ins-and-outs of events such as wedding ceremonies and receptions. And she filled me in on who's married to whom and who's dating whom and who's soon-to-not-be-single. It was a very informative four hours.
After church today I went and spent the afternoon with S. and her boyfriend. Her family has electricity and a satellite dish . . . I watched TV for the first time in six months! There was even a news channel in English!
It was FASCINATING hanging out with them. I learned SO much. It was fabulous. An anthropologists dream, really.