We know that when this season, summer, comes we feel like on a different planet. The planet called summer. It’s warm, you don’t have to wear a jacket, a hat, gloves or boots. It’s just wonderful, beautiful, and fabulous. This is the season when many people have time off, at work or school. In Congo we can get a month off (like my Dad). And the weather is completely different than in Poland. We call this season – our winter. The Polish people would probably be surprised that there is winter in Congo, but there really is. Our winter comes just in time for holidays. It’s strange, but that’s how the world works. People who like to travel know about it. I remember when I was preparing for my final exam (after primary school before you go to a junior high school - l’ecole primaire Au colegue) or the school leaving exams it was already cold, foggy, and you had to take a bath in the morning, sometimes in cold water. The ones who don’t have a tap with hot water (like in Poland, when you have two taps, with hot and cold water) must use one tap, with only cold water. And this is a struggle because the water is very cold. Also, it is much colder in the morning than during the day. You have to wear warm clothes. You don’t have to wear gloves, a hat, boots, but definitely a jacket (a kind of a jacket you wear in Poland in May). You can also wear a scarf.
When this anticipated time comes we forget about the weather because there are so many attractions, e.g. a family picnic, sitting around the bonfire in the backyard, picking fruit and vegetables, a journey to the village to our grandparents’, a trip to another city.
I have remembered the family picnics. We either go by the river or by the sea to fish, catch crabs or fish for shrimps. We light a big bonfire to warm ourselves up, cook and have fun.
When we come back we collect corn and peanuts straight from the ground to prepare it for the evening in the backyard.
We put the corn and clean peanuts into one pot, add water, and a bit of salt to taste. It cooks for about 45 minutes or more, it depends on the corn – if it’s young or ripe. And peanuts remain in shells because it adds to taste.
The whole family sits in the evening (at around 7-8pm) and eats. Everyone tells stories and plays games, e.g. jeu de Dame (mind games), deu de carte or Ludo – what are these games? The evening doesn’t end with eating and playing, but we also watch films on TV until late, 2-3 in the morning, sometimes until 4 or 5 am.
Also, I need to add that due to these long TV sessions we can collect supplies of water if we have a problem with hot water and it comes late at night.
Just like during every holidays, apart from picnics and other things, we can use these 3 months to work: farm (plant tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach and other vegetables, then you have to get up early to go to the market and sell it all – this happens a few hours before the market opens).
At home you need to help your Mum with cooking, you can go to the country to visit your grandparents and help them with farming. In places where you plant beans, peanuts, and cassava you need wood because it’s cold. For this reason you have to light a bonfire, especially in mountainous regions like mine. Just to remind you that mountains is the place where it’s very cold. In Poland as well, e.g. in Zakopane.
I and my friends hunt for crabs or mice. The crabs that we hunt for don’t come from the sea but the ground. They are wild crabs, which live deep in the ground so you need special equipment to catch them. We set traps in the morning, and we come back in the afternoon to check if anything has been caught. You can check 2-3 times throughout the day. Then we sell these crabs to get more attractions for the bonfire so we either cook crabs from the lake, the ones which are deep in the ground or corn with peanuts.
In the morning and evening we sometimes make doughnuts and blancmange. They are eaten warm. There are two types of doughnuts: plain or with bananas.
For some people summer camps are organised.
This is how we spend our holidays, more or less. Winter or summer – in our own way.
Wvarzwzeky - Wez Kombo - Bouetoumoussa
Translated by: Karolina Ginalska