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Rusty Shuping: I Love Lucy, not donkeys

Bill had grown tired of it. The bus he followed was choking him out with its billowing cloud of dirt and diesel. He gunned his 650 Yamaha motorcycle to get ahead into the fresh air. Half way around the bus the cloud turned noxious. A donkey had decided to take a siesta In the middle of the road. The waking animal starts to get up. Bill t-bones him at a speed that was enough to kill the donkey out right and put Bill out cold. Some locals got him out of the road and to a medical clinic once he had come to. With a few cracked ribs and a bad case of road rash he was going to be okay. As for the donkey, he probably ended up at the meat market on the table where you don’t ask what kind it is.

Later in the week a road trip was planned to do a water project and find a local pastor, Bazie André. My information led us to a small town where supposedly Bazie had his home. We pulled over at a little road side boutique where a lady was attending her beer jug, a large barrel full of home brew that she sold by the gourd dipper. We needed directions not booze.

I am a typical American, speaking English and a little high school Spanish. This did not put me at an advantage in a country where French is the national language along with the other 81 African dialects. Bill speaks to the lady in French about Bazie but she doesn’t understand. She speaks Garunci and Mossi, but we have a driver who speaks a few languages. Bazie’s dad lives nearby so we ask the beer lady to take us. She is apprehensive to do so. Bill standing with his 5’4” frame weighing in at about 140 offers assurance that he will protect her. A light smile shows for a moment and she climbs into the back of the pick-up. We’re off to find Mr. André. He’s not home and a neighbor goes to find him. We wait in the one room house with grandma, blind, sitting on the floor. Reaching out she finds her head scarf and wraps it on the top of her head. The home is nicer than most in the area. Instead of a dirt floor it is covered with some nice laterite. Mr. André shows up after a few minutes huffing and puffing, excited to have company. Things immediately get interesting. I speak English. Bill speaks English and French. Our driver speaks French and Mossi. The neighbor lady speaks Mossi and Garunci, and Mr. André speaks Garunci and who knows what else. For a few moments I was living out an “I Love Lucy” episode. Several times up and down the line, we get our answers. Pastor Bazie was not there but in another small town back the way we came from. Thanking Mr. André we head to the truck. The driver askes Bill if I am upset since Pastor was not there. Bill replies, “No worries, he’s on vacation.” I smile.

We soon arrive at Pastor Bazie’s home. We talk about the churches, the quality and quantity of the drinking water. We present the French Bibles to Pastor. Pastor opens one and takes a glance, looking for the version of these copies. He is very pleased and remarks, “These are good bibles.” in French of course.

The destination may be important but the journey there can be the real adventure.


Rusty and his wife Laurie live in Rowan County. They are in the travel business.

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