Back to the fort. Jorg has started referring to me as ‘The Artist’ which makes my head swell terribly. Every time I get in in the evening he asks to see what I have made.
“It looks just like it was made on Ibo!”, he declares. Well, it was.
When I arrive at the fort, Sulemao greets me with a tupperware of rice doughnuts.
“I had my wife make you these bolos de arroz,” he says and beams at me. I begin to thank him (again) and, after a moment of deliberation – (Should I eat one? But I’m not hungry. I’ve just had breakfast. Will it seem rude to leave them until later? Or is it rude to eat in front of them when they’re fasting? ) I eat one dutifully, making appreciative noises. They aren’t bad, similar texture to the inside of a crumpet but sweet and well, ricey. I’m touched that he should have thought of me like this.
He reminds me that I am going over to his house to cook with his wife on Monday. I volunteer to make a Victoria Sponge (Cake exchange?) and instantly wonder how on earth I was going cook a Victoria Sponge over a charcoal fire. I attempt to explain what a Victoria Sponge is. They lose interest quickly.
“You can teach her how to make English cakes,” says Sulemao. “They will be better than hers.”
I suddenly wonder if I’m in line to be second wife.
The day progresses more slowly than usual. I am starting a big project from scratch which means making wire. This is a laborious and irritating task when using the usual equipment but we did not have the usual equipment and instead had to push against bits of metal with our feet whilst pulling the wire through tiny perforations. It was backbreaking.
A rather portly Portuguese man walked into the fort. He only greeted me (this is actually not uncommon for white tourists). The silver smiths talked excitedly amongst themselves and I asked what they are saying.
“Very fat muzungo!” said the one with the club foot.
Sulemao started talking about America.
“The Americans have many weapons,” he said, “Americans like war. They don’t have machambas (vegetable patches), in America they have munitions factories.”
Later, as we walk home, Sulemao continues to give me his version of national stereotypes.
“Australians have a lot of money. So do the English. They never ask for a discount. But the Italians and the Portuguese…! They are never happy paying for anything. They hate paying. They always argue. I tell them, I’m an artist, but they don’t care. The Spanish are the same. They try to rob you.”
I don’t know whether it’s a compliment or not to be considered ‘rich’. It probably isn’t beneficial so I try to explain that the Portuguese and the Italians are not poor, just mean. I don’t know whether he gets it.