Well, safely back at site. Emily had been planning a 4th of July party for longer than any of us could remember, so I got a map from Sali and hopped on my bike bright and early to go and find the bush route between our villages, in theory only 25 km apart. Well, it exists, and I suppose it could be 25 km, but on a flat paved road that would take about 60 or 90 minutes to bike. This took me 3 hours, mostly because there were a number of very steep hills that I ended up walking up, and several places where the road was flooded and I had to walk through the soggy fields until the path became passable again. Needless to say, I was very glad Emily hadn't told me the truth of how hard the route was, because I probably wouldn't have come otherwise! We had a lovely time though, cooking all day for a huge crowd and sitting and chatting while we snacked. They had made bagels! We also made guacamole, salsa and hummus for lunch, then fried chicken, beans and rice flavored with taco mix, mango fried rice, cookies, roast pork (we put it in the ground to cook but it kept catching on fire, so we gave it to the butcher to finish in the oven), and several other things I'm forgetting at the moment. I ended up staying a few days extra so I could help clean up and to avoid biking back on that terrible route.
Twice a week there's transport that leaves her village, so I took the 5am camion to Seguenega, then biked back to Kossouka. It might have been that I had significantly less to carry, or that it was earlier in the morning, but the ride back was a lot easier than I remember it being when I returned from our language IST. I got to the CSPS just in time to be informed that the entire staff was going to Seugenega for a formation (I had passed Sali on the road and wondered where she was going on baby weighing day). So I stuck around and helped our visiting nurse from a nearby CSPS, taking temperatures and listening to consultations. He was nice and seemed to actually care about figuring out the correct diagnosis for each person – I found myself wishing that he worked here all the time and could be a motivation to the other nurses. I went back in the afternoon, but the staff hadn't come back, so I went home and started The Invisible Man, and talked with people who poked their head in my gate. Check (the boy whose name I thought was “Crash”) came to say he'd take me to look at paint tomorrow, and his little brothers came and walked with me to get water.
I was finishing my shower and getting ready to yoga (which I had actually been looking forward to all day) when someone knocked on my gate. Normally people will knock continuously until I open the gate or they'll open it themselves, but this person waited and it made me curious. It turned out to be Ilias, my petit Africain, who again started out the conversation by saying he was mad at me for neglecting him. I was going to stand outside my gate to try and keep the conversation short, but he told me to go ahead and get dressed, he wasn't in a hurry. We ended up sitting down and having a pretty nice time talking, although he did stay a lot later than I really wanted (I think he finally left around 9:45, which left me a little cranky because I was tired and didn't feel like I had time to do anything before going to bed). It was nice talking about life here compared to life in the US, and it made me happy to hear him say that he was proud to be African and he wants to live in Ouaga and help the country develop, even if it means getting affected to a village even further en brousse than Koussouka. We talked about why I like living here, about what he wants to do after he takes his BAC this weekend, living in a global society and the importance of getting to experience a life different than your own – it was nice to actually have conversations that went past day to day living.