Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mail on the Bus, New Boss,

1 April – Kossouka 6:36am

Well, normally I wouldn't be up this early, but I had to send my MIF kit on the STAF bus and pick up my anti-malaria meds from the Med Office. I absolutely love the informal mail system here – what a great idea! The postal service is slow (rural offices get and send things twice a week), inconveniently located (the nearest one to my village is 11km away) and somewhat unreliable since, as we've found, people who don't feel like working just don't. Actually, I don't think I wrote down that story – basically, when we were trying to leave Seguenega after IST we all needed money, which we get out of accounts with the post office. It was closed all morning for an inspection, but they said they'd re-open in the afternoon. So we went after lunch and they were all standing there, but were “too tired” after the inspection to do any work, so they were closed again until the next day, when we had wanted to leave early, before the post opened. So we were obliged to wait, Emily and Alicia almost missed their bus, and I had to wait to pay our hotel bill and ended up biking home when it was getting hot instead of early like I had planned.

So instead of the post, you take advantage of the bus system, which, although sometimes quite late, is at least reliable in that you know it will eventually get to it's destination sometime that day. As I found out this morning, it's simple – you take a package to the stop with the name and destination written on it, pay a small amount (500cfa for a small envelope package the size of my hand – seemed a bit much but I wasn't going to complain) and off it goes to it's destination. I also picked up the bag the office sent me yesterday. I missed the incoming bus, but they just left it in the bus office until I asked for it this morning – much more convenient since the morning bus arrives within a 15 minute window, while the afternoon bus typically arrives within a 2 hour window. I know a system like this wouldn't really work in the US – the mail system is reliable and the bus system is under-utilized – but it's pretty handy for Burkina. So now my test is on it's way to Ouaga, and I have enough malaria pills to see me through the next three months.

In local news, the passing of power from my old major to my new major finally happened so now I officially have a new boss. His last name sounds like a mix between Sandwich and Samedi – I think it's Sanwidi, and his first name is Adema. He's young and seems nice enough although not a particularly forceful presence at first meeting. And, wonder of all wonders, I was sitting in my courtyard during the repose and David came to get me for the ceremony. What?! Something important was happening and they came to tell me? No, it couldn't be. Although that reminds me, I need to call Congo and tell him that I have a new major and thus a new contact person. They could call Sylvie in her new village, but then she'd have to call here, and it's just faster to go direct, you know? It wasn't very formal – we sat around and gave little speeches, then Sylvie stood up and handed the official CSPS books over to Adema and that was that – they went off to Seguenega to formalize the paperwork and I went to go get some water so I could shower and cook dinner that evening.

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