Saturday, February 26, 2011

2nd Northern Gathering, 50th Anniversary of PC

22 February – Kossouka, 8:53pm

Spent the weekend up near Ouahigouya. I was going to catch the twice weekly car between Kongoussi and OHG, but with many conflicting reports on the pickup location and time, after waiting beside the N15 for a while I gave up and biked into Seguenega. I had at least an hour until the camion left, so I took my time and in the cool morning air it only took me about 35 minutes to reach the center of town where a guy flagged me down to tell me that his truck would be leaving soon – 15 minutes or at 8am at the latest. Uh-huh. He knows Alicia, which was cool, so we talked about our IST in March and learning Moore. The thing I noticed biking into town is that everyone started greeting me in French instead of Moore, a welcome if unhelpful change. After the truck left and returned from picking up some bags of grain, a stop in the market to get lumber, a stop to get gas, and a stop to chat with some guys, we were finally leaving town at 9am – not bad, all things considered. I called Alicia and she met us in Nong-Farie and we sat and chatted the rest of the very slow, bumpy ride into the city.

Lunch at the Caimon was unexpected and fun. We met Mike Levoy, the President of Friends of Burkina Faso, who introduced himself and his Burkinabe friends in French, but when we were just speaking amongst ourselves without him we did tend to switch back to English. He's a very interesting guy – high energy, very enthusiastic. We also met Anne Knight, an awesome RPCV-BF 01-03 who had taught in Titao and had fantastic stories, advice, and food(!) to offer us, which we took full advantage of. She's been living in Germany working for the Department of Defense, which sounds so shocking for an RPCV, but she works for a sector that trains African militaries how to abide by international human rights standards. Perfect example of how PC trains you to work in anything. The Caiman was suggested as going along with Mike's theme of a crocodile having to follow the zig-zags of a river, which I still don't really understand in the context of celebrating the 50th anniversary of PC, but I like the restaurant so no complaints.

We stopped in the marche to pick up some veggies for dinner and I'm so jealous! I love that my market is right outside my door, but I might be tempted to bike 7 km each way like Bridget if it meant access to so many options. Not only was the variety there, but things were America-sized! Green peppers, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, mangoes, oranges, bananas, cucumbers, fresh ginger – it was amazing. We parked our bikes at the STAF gare and hopped on the bus to Zogare. David's house is a bit away from the main road, like mine, but his village has solar-powered street lamps (Eh?). We went to meet David's counterpart Maurice, and drank honeyed dolo, ate tô with oseille sauce flavored with pork fat, bread dipped in pork fat, and the pork itself. I have never enjoyed tô up until this point, but this was fantastic. Tô is an amazing substance with the heat retaining properties of potatoes, leading to burning your fingers with every bite as each scoop sticks to your fingers before you can extinguish them first in the sauce and then in your mouth. David has developed scars and callouses from eating hot tô regularly.

The next day was the marche, so after blueberry pancakes (!) we walked around and bought gateaux to dip in our chocolate frosting (courtesy of Anne). We made lunch of taco-flavored veggie surprise and french fries, and planned a dinner of Velveeta mac and cheese (courtesy of Bridget's care package). Al came from Ouaga and David found he had to go to Ouaga, so the hand-off of Simba (Al's puppy who had been staying with David) was going to work out perfectly. We reposed for the afternoon, then went to work in the garden David's been planting with Maurice. We hauled water from the well, transplanted tomatoes, and talked in French, English and Moore. We went home as it was getting dark and spent the evening eating amazing food and talking late into the night.

Thankfully, coming home from a trip to a village is totally different from coming home from Ouaga and I was so happy to be home. It was a good afternoon, and today was nice as well – I met the superintendent of the lycee (yes, it's actually becoming a lycee – a high school - not just a CEG – middle school - like I'd been told) and the French guy from the transport yesterday made a surprise visit to my village. We said hi, he asked if I wanted to get tea, I said yes, after I talk to the librarian, and then after a brief visit in the middle of my Moore lesson, he and his friend were off. It was actually quite odd to have another white person who wasn't a friend of mine in my village – I guess I've become rather possessive of my status as the resident nasara even though I often wish my every move weren't so fascinating to everyone, something that would probably be improved if another foreigner were to settle here.

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