18 November – Romongo, 9:08pm
Days like today are hard to journal because nothing too extraordinary happened. I wasn't overwhelmed with emotion in any particular way out of the ordinary, but I guess it had it's moments worth remembering.
Classes were pretty good. I was disappointed that our cross-culture session on ethnic groups was only about the one where we would be living, but it was ok. I liked the story of Princess Yannenga, the warrior princess of the Mossi who was beloved by all (especially her father, the king) for always returning victorious from war. But one time on campaign her horse ran off and they became lost in the woods and her troops returned home to tell the king that she had disappeared. The horse led her to a house in the woods, and she stayed with the man (sorcerer?) there. As happens after a time together, they fell in love and she became pregnant. Their son they named after the horse who had brought them together – Ouedraogo. The eventually set out to visit her village. The king received them warmly and was so pleased with his new son-in-law and little grandson that he threw a huge fete. The family moved from Ghana to what is now south-central Burkina, and Ouedraogo and his descendents continued to conquer the land around them. The superiority of fighting on horseback was undeniable, and over the generations they eventually conquered all of the land that is now part of the Mossi kingdoms. Ouedraogo continues to be the most common family name among the Mossi, and although horses aren't used much anymore they continue to be a powerful symbol of the group. Cool, huh?
Our med session was one of those “break into groups and teach each other” but this time we had reference materials! It was pretty fun to look up all of the tropical diseases that we might be exposed to while in BF, and Sylvie did a very good job of explaining what we'd missed. It would have been easier to learn (I think) if she had taught it, but it truly was more interesting doing it for each other. Our second med was food! I was thrilled to get my cookbook “Where There Is No Microwave (or refrigerator)”, brought to us by the amazing Gwen, our PCVf who was there our first week and is now back for this week. We have a practical exam next week – our group is making breakfast burritos, fried cheese balls, and brownies – yum! We also had bissap mixed with citron (lemonade), cravettes, popcorn, dried mango and coconut, and peanuts.
The PCV relationship with food seems to be an interesting one. When you find food that you want to eat, you eat as much as you can, particularly if it's free. For men this somehow ends in their losing massive amounts of weight, to the point of malnutrition in John's case (but he's special). For women the carb-heavy diet seems to result in weight gain. And as Gwen pointed out, food is a comfort, something familiar in a place that is so different in many aspects. Eh, either losing or gaining weight, I'm just happy I now have a guide to delicious food that I can actually cook here! I won't have to live off of rice and sauce after all.