17 December – Koussouka, 8:02pm
It's been a crazy awesome few days. I'll try to start with what I remember of the 14th and work my way up to now – sorry this is so long. I ended up breaking it into separate posts to make it easier to read, but it was all written the same day.
So, the morning of the 14th I woke up a bit early to pack my last minute things, like my mosquito net and any remaining things lying around. I had really wanted to take a family photo, but sadly the family was still getting up at the same time as normal, and since goodbyes took so much longer on this last day of goodbyes it was already past 7 by the time I sat down to bolt my breakfast and try and get to the CSPS. I gave the candy, cards, map and postcards to my host dad with the promise to send him the family photos, and then I biked quickly to the CSPS, hoping I wouldn't be too late. It was surprisingly hard to leave my host family – it was sad to say goodbye and I was almost glad of the excuse to leave in a bit of a hurry so I wouldn't have to think about it any more. I got to the CSPS about 20 minutes late and the car hadn't even come yet. So much for rushing! My host aunts had given me bags of peanuts, so we snacked a little while we waited. Emily came with her adorable puppy – I think this one was a good choice, he's super chill, friendly, and likes to sleep a lot. When he went over and curled up between Stephen's host dad's feet we all about died of cute.
After an interview with our trainers about how we felt stage went, we all went for lunch and then came back to Abbe-Pierre for committee elections. I ran for GAD (Gender And Development) and VAC (Volunteer Action Committee), and was torn as to which I wanted to do more, but since I was the only enthusiastic one about running for VAC I was elected to that. I'm excited to be on the committee, I just wonder if I wouldn't have enjoyed GAD more even though I worried that I didn't really have concrete ideas to bring, just a desire to sit and talk about gender all the time. We had to re-vote for CHAT (Community Health and AIDS Taskforce) multiple times since 6 people ran and we could have 2 people. Lindsy voted by phone since she was in Ouaga at the med unit for her thumb. We didn't elect anyone to the IT committee and gave our slot to SED since no one wanted to be on it from Health. It looked like we weren't going to have anyone on the Youth Committee either (I forget the whole name or acronym) but Lindsy said she'd do it, and I think she'll be really good at it – we all wanted to nominate her to run anyway. The whole process took a while but went pretty well and I'm excited to find out more about VAC and what it entails besides just acting as a liaison between the Volunteers and the Bureau.
So after that we all go celebrate the end of stage by having drinks, and then dinner, at El Dorado and Cafe Resto. Honestly, I bet they'll miss our business when we leave, but not the way we show up in a massive group and end up talking rather loudly. After it got dark people started breaking off to go back to Abbe-Pierre. Our group from Romongo met up a little early to prepare for the talent show, and our selections from our in-the-works “Peace Corps – The Musical” went over with great acclaim. We explained that Stephen was both the writer and the only one of us who could actually sing, but we were happy to be backup singers/the chorus/ the dancers to assist in his genius. It was pretty fantastic, actually – we took songs from musicals and changed the lyrics. Thus, “Maria” from West Side Story became “Nasara”, “I Could Have Danced All Night” became “I Could Have Shat All Night”, etc. Our power ballad was “Jean-Luc, You Weren't There At Midnight” which Stephen sang solo and we provided the “interpretive dancing” in the background. Overall the talent show was horribly inappropriate, culturally insensitive towards Americans and Burkinabe alike, and unbelievably awesome – I laughed so much my cheeks hurt from smiling.
After a few hours of sleep, we're up and getting ready to go to Ouaga. I surprise and amuse myself by being too lazy to walk to the American bathroom and just using the latrine instead. Our bus has a flat – we pile out and Issouf changes it, and surprisingly we make great time, arriving just after the other bus. Or rather, they had to keep stopping for various reasons, so we made better time than they did. We're at the same hotel as last time, but my roommate, Lindsy, is staying in the med unit so I have the room all to myself. Sweet! We only have the afternoon of the 15th and the morning of the 16th to shop in Ouaga, but first we have a quick lecture from Jeff. We learn who is leaving when and how they're getting to site, and get our checkbooks and learn to write a check here. We go downstairs to see where we're going to be putting all of our stuff that we buy, and I ask Rob for a quick map of Ouaga so I can actually get to all the places I want to go. We also keep running into lots of PCVs – it turns out that the SE group from the last stage is in Ouaga for their IST and staying on the floor above us in the hotel.
After lunch, Wendy, Steve and I hopped in a cab and went to the post (which is also the bank). It was kind of crazy – first I got confused which direction we were headed so we stopped a cab going the wrong way, then we walked a fairly long way before catching another one and squishing in with the two other passengers already there. 5 or 6 seems to be a good number for a taxi here – two in the front seat, 4 in the back. The post was confusing, but after about 30 or 45 minutes we were in the right place, with our checks and ID cards in the line on the counter, and soon were in possession of our money. We then caught a cab over to Marina for food shopping. I admittedly went a bit overboard and spent a lot more than I intended to, although in retrospect I should have also made sure to purchase things like rice and sugar. I did get a lot of useful things, just none of the staple foods that I actually need now that I'm here at site and wanting to make dinner. We went back to the hotel to unload our groceries next to our luggage and were immediately ushered out the door to go to a going-away dinner for Aaron, who was about to catch a flight back to America-land in a few hours. We managed to get our giant group to the restaurant, and had a really nice time meeting some Volunteers and eating lots of good food.