Sunday, November 7, 2010


Hello all! I think I've gone through approximately 20 different concepts and ideas for this blog since I arrived, from a straight catalog of each days events (way too long). to a detailed description of one thing per day (surprisingly also very long), to entries by category.  Finally decided on the last one for now, but it's a work in progress so here's a quick look at what I've been up to!

-arrived in Ouaga, stayed in a hotel/dorm for a few days and finished some paperwork, got some vaccinations, and had a few orientation and language lessons.
-moved 100k west, to the regional capital of Koudougou, where we stayed in a similar hotel/dorm-type compound for a few days.  Started what would become our regular class schedule of 8-10am, 10:30-12:30pm, 2-3:30pm, 3:45-5:15pm.
-had our adoption ceremony! The majority of trainees stayed in Koudougou with families there, but 6 of us were moved to a small village 20k east.
-went on Demyst(ification) last weekend, visiting a current volunteer about 100k east of Ouaga using public transport.  Our LCF, Pierre, is amazing and stopped our little group from getting lost, stuck in strange cities, and from losing our luggage and bikes.

Things I've Learned (an abbriviated list):
-Doing my own laundry by hand is very hard, technically and physically, but I'm really proud that yesterday I did all of my clothes by myself for the first time.
-I actually can bike 20k into Koudougou if it means getting to internet.
-Chickens and donkeys are *loud*, and roosters crow whenever they feel like it, especially if you're trying to sleep.
-It's not that bad living without electricity or running water – I quickly came to love my open-air bucket baths, especially at night when the moon is full so you can see where your soap went.
-You can see so many stars at night! It's beautiful.
-Crickets in my room don't bother me too much, and I try to avoid looking at my ceiling so I don't see the spiders.  I get my host brothers to sweep them down once a week or so.
-Started Moore lessons this week!  It's difficult but exciting to be learning a completely new language that has absolutely no similarities to any that I've studied before.  It means I'll mostly likely be placed in the central, east, or north regions of the country, although it is spoken to some extent by most Burkinabe, and most of us who have switched from French are learning this our Jula, which is spoken predominately in the south west and parts of the west region, as well as in a couple of other West African countries.
-repose is something that should be done everywhere – nothing beats a 3 hour nap in the middle of the day!  Nothing is really open since everyone is repo-ing, so you might as well sit down and relax as well.
-on Demyst, how to cook American foods using Burkinabe and care package ingredients! We made tortillas, fajitas, veggie stir-fry, macaroni and cheese (well, Laughing Cow, from now on abbriviated as Vache or VQR), lasagna and cornbread in a dutch oven, and grilled BBQ chicken.  Apparently we will receive a cookbook, which sounds fantastic.

Stuff I do:
-go to class!  We either get to the CSPS (the health clinic of our village) at 7am to take the car into Koudougou for classes with everyone, or we meet there at 8am for language and TDAs in village(Trainee Directed Activities, like going to visit to someone important like the Imam and the chief, or going to the school to teach kids why they should wash their hands with soap).  It's pretty awesome getting to go to class everyday on a mat under a tree, being greeted by everyone coming to or from the CSPS and being distracted by the cows/chickens/ducks/small children that wander by.
-sit and talk with my family at night after dinner until I fall asleep and they tell me to go to bed.  I go inside and do my homework/journal until I can't stay awake anymore.
-try to be helpful around the house.  I've peeled patates (a very starchy root that you can eat raw or cook like a potato), piled beans out of their dried pods in a giant mortar and pestle, washed laundry and dishes, watched and attempted to help cook (I'm making beenga tonight! A mix of beans and rice served with oil and salt, although beenga is also the Moore word for “beans”)
-read, of course!  I'm glad I brought books I'd been meaning to read for a while, but I should have brought more.

If you should so desire to send me a letter or a package, the list on the left is pretty comprehensive, but I will absolutely love anything you send!  Most volunteers say that the international flat-rate boxes at the post office are the way to go, especially after one girl here received a package that cost $150 to send!  There doesn't seem to be a big issue with packages being opened in transit here, but it can't hurt to do the red ink and/or religious symbols and quotations on the outside if you're so inclined.  Please remember to write “PCT” before my name so that they bring it from Ouaga when a car is driving out to us.  And letters are fantastic – I promise to even try and figure out the mail system in order to write you back :)

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