All I wanted to do was cook some pasta.

If I wanted only rice, I would have stayed home, the concrete walls of my bungalow guarding me from the stifling heat of midday. But I was tired of eating rice.

Instead I took out my yellow Peace Corps issue bicycle and pedaled up the hill and around the bend into town, to the market, to buy tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spaghetti.

Laboring to pedal uphill, I passed women frying plantains and bean cakes along the roadside. The smell of hot oil mingled with the sharper, more pungent odors of salt and chili peppers, sweat, livestock, and sour water.

“Nonsara! Nonsara!” Children followed me up the street and into the market, calling out the local name for foreigners. They hopped up and down, their bellies jiggling with excitement, yelling in a singsong unison, “Nonsara, how are you? ... »
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