17 December – Koussouka, 8:02pm
I woke up the next morning (the 16th) and realized that it was the day for swear in! Yay! We didn't have any agenda in the morning, but I wanted to go buy a big bag (they sell large square vinyl ones that zip) and go to the Transit House to take a bunch of books. I went to breakfast downstairs and found that Antoinette and David both wanted to go to the small market nearby. I learned how to haggle properly (thank you David), we bought what we needed, and even managed to get all of it back to the hotel – people were very amused at David and Antoinette carrying a mattress on their heads. They wanted to go shopping elsewhere so I started walking to the Transit House which was right near the restaurant we'd been at the night before. It was a much longer walk without company, and I ended up having to call Josh to get me to the correct side street, but in the end I found it and will certainly be able to find my way back next time. I talked with the PCVs that were hanging out at the House (I was pleased by how many I already knew!), and then grabbed lunch nearby with Al before we caught a taxi back to the hotel to get ready to go to the Ambassador's house.
We all looked magnificent in our matching pagnes, if I do say so myself. (A pagne is a printed piece of fabric that you can buy at any street market and comes in a bolt of 3. You can ask the vendor to cut off one – a little more than 5 ½ feet long and 3 ¾ feet wide - but they prefer if you buy all three at once. Used for making clothing, curtains, baby-carrying slings, etc) Don't worry, we took lots of photos! I think the Americans were amused, but the Burkinabe seemed impressed with our matching outfits – you see a lot of families wearing matching outfits for important ceremonies here. The ceremony was interesting for the most part, and the hor-d’overes and drinks while mingling with staff and older PCVs after the ceremony was over was a lot of fun. When we stood up in front of the Ambassador to take the oath (the same one given to government workers, court justices, and the President) I was kind of hit with a feeling of “This is it!” a happy and slightly nervous sensation of being about to take the proverbial plunge into the unknown. Cliché, perhaps, but true.
A couple of us took the bus back to the hotel to leave our bags in our rooms, and then we caught a taxi to a restaurant with a big outdoor seating area so we could sit in long rows. There was a good mix of old and new PCVs, and as more people kept showing up we just kept adding on tables. After dinner people kind of split off into groups to go find entertainment – I ended up playing pool (badly, but it was a lot of fun none the less) for a few hours with a bunch of older Volunteers and then we went and joined everyone else at a restaurant that also had a bar/dance floor. I got the chance to chat with a bunch of new people, and it was an absolutely fantastic way to celebrate becoming a Volunteer and also saying goodbye to our stage group.