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Author Topic: Souvenirs  (Read 610 times)

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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Souvenirs
« on: December 06, 2020, 01:25:54 PM »
   I was looking up on the shelf over the sink in our kitchen at some of our souvenirs and decided to post them here. The bad part is what will happen to them when we are gone. To us each one is a memory of a special time and place but to the kids they are just a basket or boat paddle or a rope or such. Please excuse the clutter in the picture - honestly it is usually worse. :D


 On top of and above the fridge are some typical tourist bait like African dolls and such in the bright colors they wore in west Africa. Some have little baskets on their heads like they carried daily to and from work. On top of the fridge I see the end of a 2' blowgun from the Amazon. That size would have been made for children to start learning to use one. It is wrapped in eelskin and alerted the agriculture dogs when we went to leave Quito Ecuador but they cleared us once checked. The little gourd on the fridge has Kapock fluff used on the darts for the blowgun and the ag people did test for the presence of poison dart poison. Also on the fridge is a kids toy car he made from an old tin can and bottle tops for wheels and a milk can for cargo. I bought it in Guinea for $1.40 (10K Guinea francs) after the kid asked 1,000 francs (14 cents) for it. He was a happy kid and I am too. Also up there in a plastic bag is a monkey skull and a sloth toe we picked up at the base of a big tree with a young Harpy eagle on the nest above.


 Sorry for the bright light from the window. This is over the left side over some cabinets and the sink counter. In the corner is a basket and the black stuff are a couple of hunting nets I bought off a couple of pygmies in The Central African Republic after we went hunting with them. They go in the jungle and surround a thick island of brush with these nets made of string from twisted bark of a vine. When the animals come out the standers club it to death or kill it with their machetes which they carry from about age 3 the rest of their life. There is a small upright drum there probably tourist bait as smaller than normally used. You can see several Cameroonian baskets made from Raffia palm or split Indian bamboo. They line them with brown paper if they need a tight seal for dried fish or produce and use them for cages for chickens or goats or pigs for the bigger ones by tying the top shut with cord. See the stuffed pig we keep in the big one. The long upright wooden piece is not a boat paddle but a big carved spade used in Ethiopia to shovel up and toss the injera (Grain) heads up in the air to winnow after threshing by having donkeys or oxen trample them. The air/breeze blows the chaff off and the heavier heads fall to the ground where they are collected and ground into flour to make the flat injera bread. Behind it is a long boat paddle typical of what is used in Cameroon. On another basket from Kenya is the red cloth like the Maasai herders in Kenya wear. They wear the red so they can see each other in the brush and know it is not a lion and also for long distances from hilltop to hilltop. On the same basket barely visible is what looks like a bundle of leather cords about an inch wide held together by a flatten down piece of metal. A pair of these worn on the front and back on a thin leather cord is a wedding outfit worn by girls in Rhumsiki (Rumm Seek ee) along the NNW border of Cameroon next to the Nigerian border. Angled up to the ridge beam is a long thin Samburu spear as used by the Samburu tribesmen in Kenya. They are basically cousins to the Maasai who live more to the south. The big round item is a gourd used for carry and storing water or milk or grain or such. They have a gourd tree in that part of Africa which grows these huge gourd fruit as well as the typical vines like we use. The flat tray behind is woven from palm or bamboo and use to carry seed and grain and such and sometimes to winnow small amount of seeds or grains. They must be used only by the women in Guinea because when I bought several and was carrying them back to camp every woman who saw me with them laughed - I guess they figured I must be severely henpecked. The red capped item to the right is a straw hat worn by a herder tribe in N Central Cameroon, I do not remember their name. The red is leather. Oh yeah, in the basket with the red Maasai cloth are a couple of short Cameroonian bows and arrows from reeds to match. The deer hide is a yearling my son brain tanned from here when he was a teenager.

  I will post now and start more so I don't lose this.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2020, 02:16:54 PM »
   Second post - same topic. Below is the right side of the shelf over our sink counter.


 A short, stout Maasai spear is leaning on the ridge beam and next to it a smaller pygmy spear on a rattan shaft. I bought it off a herder watching his cows. He probably stepped back in the bush and got out another for the next tourist coming once I drove off. It has a wider blade than the Samburu spear which is used more for throwing while the Maasai hold theirs and let the lion impale himself on it. Both types have slender point on the other end similar to a flounder spear. The spears break down into 3 parts with  the double edged blade, wooden handle and pointed end. More Maasai and Samburu red cloth on the basket. The wide bladed boat paddle I bought off an Indian lady on the Amazon River tributary in Ecuador. Another Cameroon boat paddle behind it. The basket with the striped red cloth is a tea picking basket from the Buea (Boy yah) area of Cameroon in west Africa. It has a pair of wooden strips woven into the basket for packstraps. It has a headband and the tea pickers wear it on their back held by the headstrap and pick and throw tea leave in the basket over both shoulders till it is full. To the right is a pygmy crossbow used to shoot moneys and birds in the CAR. The string is pulled back into the notch and a trigger made of a board is pushed up from the bottom to push the string out of the notch and fire it. The poison darts look like thicker, foot long kitchen matches and they spilt the rear end and insert a green leaf for fletching. Another basket to the right of the crossbow with local handmade grass woven rope (like seen in the small basket left of the crossbow) for backstraps. The women carry these everywhere they go in most of Cameroon to carry their tools (Hoes/Machetes) firewood, crops, etc. Right of that with the TSC chicken inside is a coarse grass basket made in South Africa and used for chicken nests. They make a lattice frame with one foot squares out of small poles laced together and propped at an angle. Inside each square the place one of these baskets and the hen uses it for a nest. We watched the man making these (usually the women but this man said he grandmother taught him how) with a bundle to dry grass and took about 30 minutes from start to finish. To the right is a decorated carved cow horn for blowing - more tourist bait no doubt but a pretty piece. Last on the shelf is a leather rawhide rope I bought in north central Mongolia. Pieces of leather about 6' long are spliced with a special knot. We stopped and talked and made and gave them pictures and they roped a 3 y/o unridden horse and a 19 y/o Mongolian boy/man jumped on bareback holding the mane and our rodeo cowboys have nothing on these guys. When done I bought the rope which was priced the same as a 2 y/o horse.


 On the wall adjoining some tourist bait carvings made of brass and ebony (Okay - probably mahogany and shoe polish), a set of nested bowls handy for party dips and chips and such. The bag over the light switch is from the Amazon and what the woman use to carry their stuff and no purse or pockets. The clock is from Saudi with the Arabic numbers. It currently has the correct time twice a day - I guess i should put a battery in it or send to MM for repair. Since my wife is a band director the metal wall hanging is of various musical instruments. Far right is a tourist bait elephant from Thailand.


 Over the doorway a pair of Camel saddle bags from the Junk Souq near Jeddah Saudi Arabia.



 
Opposite wall a typical mortar and pestle from Cameroon but used as a common household implement all over Africa. Old split mortars are inverted and used as stools or end table to to display wares for sale beside the roads.


 A drum and big hand made clay pot. The post leaks like a sieve - not glazed. The drum was in use by a Koume (Koo Mah) tribesman in NNW Cameroon along the Nigerian border. Skin head, heavy wooden body with skin laces. The Kome people were first contacted by outsiders in 1984 and we were there in 2002. We trekked in and camped with them and returned in February 2008. (We got caught up in a coups that trip and barely got out on 29 February) The women pull their front upper teeth when they get married and were confused that Becky still had hers. The women wear a belt of beads and stuff fresh green leaves in the front and back a couple times a day as needed due to wilt conditions. They smoke local black tobacco in a pipe and make a tobacco pouch out of a local bush rat. The pipe stem is stuck in their bead belt with the mouthpiece nearly in the crack of their butts for travel and did not look very appealing to me but I digress...

I'll get and add some other pictures later after you digest all this. :D
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline dogone

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2020, 08:30:09 PM »
    WV you reminded me of some of my souvenirs. Lived an worked in Egypt. Your comments on tourist trap stuff fits right in there. I bought the usual tourist stuff but usually had one of our local employees along to keep me from getting screwed to badly. I didnt usually mind as most people were really poor.
     Even in the middle of the desert they saw me coming.
      It did bother me that cops and such would shake down locals to cross a bridge or whatever. The few cents they got out of them hurt a lot more than the two bits they got out of me.
   Many memories and looks like you do also.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2020, 09:43:03 PM »
@dogone ,

Yes that was very common. The police would stop taxis and such and shake them down at "Safety Inspections". At one point they rose up and went on strike and killed a few Gendarmes and such and they backed off. Our company made it clear we did not pay baksheesh and when they would stop us we'd point to the company logo and they would angrily send us away. One cop even asked me one time "Why you no pay? Everybody else pay?" I told him it was just the terms agreed to my their government to get us to come do the work. The smartest thing our company did was hired, maybe the only, well respected and supposedly honest retired police commissioner in the country. I remember they stopped me and my driver one time supposedly for a mismatched Viin on the paperwork and the car. I called our security manager who came out immediately with the commissioner and as soon as they pulled up the cop handed my driver all our paperwork and said we were free to go then he went over to talk to our guy who had not yet said a word.


 Here in a corner are a couple of horizontal log drums and you see the shafts of some more pygmy spears. My wife says these drums are tuned and striking them at different points returns different notes. She used them in a school concert one time with an appropriate piece of music.


 

 More assorted baskets from around Africa


 Probably my favorite piece in the center. The little baskets on each side and actually one inside the middle piece are crawfish traps women make with thin strips of bamboo and cord. It has a funnel in the end and the other end is tied shut and untied to empty the catch. The backpack in the middle is a 3 sided Pygmy backpack I bought off a pygmy hunter 2 days before I left on my first assignment. It is made of rattan and the pack straps and head straps are made of flexible bark. I paid him 3,000 cfa's or about $3-$4 for it. It is made like making 3 snowshoes then tying them together in a triangle with the flat side worn against his back. He laced cord across the bottom to keep the contents from falling out. He took his stuff out then started to remove the beat up, electrical tape wrapped handled machete and asked how much for it too. he said 2,000 cfa's and I paid it even though I knew and new one was 1500 cfa. The old beat up one in the 2 baling wire loops on the pack are worth more to me than a new one. All told about $5-$6 paid. We were in front of a closed down store made of a 20' connex at the intersection of 2 dirt roads. When the owner saw a white guy there with 4-5 locals she came out and opened up and I bought everyone a Coke or beer (Beer was cheaper than Coke over there. They did have tight age controls on selling liquor. The kid had to be old enough to reach up and put the money on the counter.)


 A big tray from Cameroon for a wall hanging. Maybe 30" diameter.


 

 More tourist bait but I commissioned a local carver to make these for me. He made me a couple and called them the acrobat (Figure of a man with his head up his butt - old cartoons always had the logo "Your problem is obvious".) the guy made the 2 I ordered then made about 2 dozen extra and I bought them at about half price. men laugh when they see them. Women say "That is nasty" then "I know somebody who needs one of those." My wife and the assistant principal sneaked in and left one on the Principal's desk when he had hemmorhoid surgery.


 Smaller trays from Guinea - maybe 24" diameter. These are the one's the women laughed at when I bought them.


 Junk on my mantel. Little flags from the countries we visited or exchange students we hosted. A couple of Aladin's lamps from Iraq. A bunch of gratuity whisky bottles from various KLM flights. Some empty if from Saudi flights where alcohol was not allowed and some still full since I don't drink.

Not shown is a xylophone from a Kome boy. Made of wood and cord with little pieces of various sized and different species of wood pieces that each made a different note when struck. A couple of tanned python hides bought in Jeddah. The African hadji's brought them over to sell when they came to do their pilgrimage. I always tried to get a 7 meter hide but 14' was as big as I ever found. The Hadji's used to sell a child or two to pay for their return trip home. We had a girl who worked as a maid in Jeddah who had been sold then transferred to a new owner then abandoned when her new owners left and could not take her with them because they had no paperwork. She was an excellent worker and one couple working with us tried to adopt her to bring back to the States but could not without any documentation or such.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline dogone

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2020, 11:12:59 PM »
    Amazing similarity! We had a retired general to smooth our way. I saw him slap a local cops face one day. No problem.

Offline K-Guy

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2020, 11:46:00 AM »

You have nothing to apologize for Howard, memories like that are good things.

And at least it's not a room full of empty beer cans from last night!!  :D
Nyle Kiln Sales & Service
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 the vices I admire." -Winston Churchill

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Souvenirs
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2020, 03:52:25 PM »
   While we have some of the typical tourist bait (pictures, carvings, dolls, etc.) that were just made to sell to outsiders, most of our collection is actually household items they used over there. I have hoes and axes, mortars, baskets, trays, etc.

As I mentioned earlier each one, no matter how odd they may seem to others each is a memory and an instant return to a happy time and place for us.

I look up at an arrow stuck in a 2' cut-off dead limb and instantly I am back in my upper shooting house with a nice 6 point buck broadside on the ridge trail and a perfect bow shot to the lungs at 17 yards - except for that one pesky limb, the only thing between me and him. The deer got away and I collected a memory. I have probably gotten more enjoyment looking at it than if I had actually killed the buck who would have been long gone.

I am sure my wife's pictures are the same. We got stuck in a wadi (dry riverbed) in the Samburu area of Kenya on the way to a village outside the park where visitors don't normally go and while our driver/guide and I jacked up the van and tried to get out Sammy, our local guide from the lodge walked off to find help. Becky was supposed to be watching for lions but instead was taking pictures and collecting rocks to bring home to a co-worker who asked us to bring such back for him. Finally National Geographic came by and pulled us out with their 5 ton truck and long winch. When we got back to the lodge, June, the manager came by and apologized prolifically for Sammy getting us stuck and ruining our afternoon game drive. We told her nothing was ruined. The young man was taking us where we asked to go, our driver in our vehicle got stuck and we got pictures and memories. How many others out there have ever had to have Nat'l Geo pull you of of a dry riverbed in Samburu land in Kenya?
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"


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Souvenirs

Started by WV Sawmiller on General Board

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Last post February 15, 2016, 05:13:53 PM
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