7 April – Kossouka, 9:09pm
Happy Birthday to me! I have officially graced the earth with my presence for 23 years. What did I do to celebrate? Well, I took the scones I managed to not eat to the CSPS this morning, arriving before 8 to things already starting since the interns are still new and eager to get going. Baby weighing went about as smoothly as usual and everyone seemed to enjoy the scones, although they told me to bring more next time. We planned out the vaccination campaign that starts tomorrow and continues for about a week (measles) and finally were free to go to the marche around noon. I had a lovely time – I was gifted a bunch of carrots (the guys have apparently forgotten that I haven't bought anything from them in over a month at least since all they have is carrots, which they keep gifting me), bought tomatoes, and turned around from greeting my peanut ladies to see a beautiful sight indeed – bananas and apples! Holy goodness, yes please – it's been a month since I've seen either. So I paid 200cfa for an apple and considered it well spent, as well as 200cfa for three giant mangoes the size of my hands, and 50cfa for some little bananas. So much goodness!
I went and sat with Odille who had brought me one of the books she uses to teach women to read (“Mam Moor Pipi Sebre” - My first moore book, or literally “My Moore First Book”). She seemed shocked that I could read the sentences and I explained that reading wasn't the problem – I know how to do that – but could she please tell me what the sentence I just read means? So we went through the first 10 lessons together (each one only has one main sentence and then becomes about practicing a certain letter) and she explained that when she teaches the literacy courses each one begins with a little health lesson since most of the example sentences have to do with health. I was thrilled, and said that perhaps after my training this month I will look for the literacy teachers here in Kossouka and see if they do the same, and if not see if we can change that. She was very supportive and said that if I wanted her to come do a project she would! She's also very insistent that she will teach me how to make degue (millet couscous in milk) and gingembre, and maybe tô if no one else shows me first. Just you wait – I'll come home and be forcing you all to try these strange Burkinabe foods because now I'll know how to make them properly! Although millet is oddly expensive in the US, unless you buy it as bird seed. Here it's a staple grain and is consumed in some form nearly every day, either as galletts (millet pancakes), degue (millet couscous), as a part of buille (porridge made of boiled flour mixture) or as the ever popular tô (boiled millet flour beaten until it becomes a gelatin-like solid). I had a conversation with a guy at Starbucks (the coffee shack behind my house where I buy bread) the other day about how you have to eat tô for breakfast, because nothing can “donne la force” (give the strength) for the day except tô – everything else just makes you weak and leaves you without force for the rest of the day.
Anyway. So had a lovely time with Odille, the rude samsa lady actually called me by my name today (!), fruit galore, and then I went home to feed the cats and eat samsa and degue and to make cornbread. I'm telling you, this dutch oven is amazing. I needed something to take to my prefet, and decided to give some to Simon as well, but also sampled quite a bit myself. By the time it was finished (talked to Doug most of the time – he's made a chicken pot pie at site! What?!) it was past 3:30pm. I waited for Lion to finish eating his lizard and left to battle the wind on my way to the prefecture. Asked about the list of community organizations, got some vague promise, was asked when I'm going to get more library books, and generally chatted. I don't think about it often, but the last time I was in his office I was new in town and could hardly carry on a conversation in French. Now I can chat politely and deflect rude advances for over an hour without problem, at least in bad African french. Cool beans.
I realized much too late that I intended to go back to the CSPS for food distribution, but I had already gone home instead and started my lasagna. All told, it took me over 2 hours from chopping the veggies to making the sauce to boiling the noodles to letting it bake in my oven, but it was delicious! I made too much, but it was my smallest pot, so I either need to buy a smaller pot or start making enough to easily share with many people. Talked with lots of people which made my day – thank you for calling! And now I'm going to bed to get ready for my busy day tomorrow!