So the kids in Zobue really like to touch us.
It's not that the culture in Mozambique is especially warm and cuddly. It's not. But it's a culture that is all about the greeting. And while grown-ups tend to adhere to a scripted conversation, the kids just go for contact. Or, you know...some rabid pawing.
I love giving and receiving hugs and handshakes, but these kids are really sticky. They will pee in a bush, build a mud baby, snack on some sugar cane, lick salt from their palms, and then, at the sight of our presence, will leap and run for handshakes.
From the standpoint of good hygiene, it's not a pretty picture. That's why we invented boom!
The boom! is a friendly little fist-bump that takes the place of shaking hands. Whenever we see a kid running at us expectantly, we simply hold out a fist, wait for the approach, and pound it on demand.
"Boom!!!!!" says the child.
"Boom!" we say. The top of our fingers get sticky, perhaps, but our hands stay clean and tidy. We can go about our day in peace.
The boom has become our trademark greeting. Kids will queue up (clump up, really, or gather-and-swarm) to pound fists and say hello. The concept has become a fad. We greet tens to hundreds of children a day, some of them five or six times in a row.
If there's one thing that our neighbors will remember long after we've gone, it's the good old-fashioned fist-bump that we brought with us to Zobue.