Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Internet Face Stuffing Dance Party

December 19, 2010: Sunday Fun Day!

It’s our day off from IST and it was a much needed break. Woke up at the late our of 9:30 and took a cold, but refreshing, drip shower (the water presure is a bit weak in the mornings). Then lounged around the hotel and typed my journal entries onto my computer for easy upload when I get to internet again. Then we all went off to lunch: we went to the only place that sells porc and it was delicious! So so so good. I forgot how good pork is. Yum. Only thing is that there was a big group of very loud Burkinabè who sat down right next to us. Completely deranged all of us, and by all of us I really mean MOI! But as soon as the food came we were all too busy stuffing our faces to care! Also – I wish pigs weren’t so damn fat. They should harbor more muscle, and less fat – because that stuff is not fun to eat, and not fun to digest. Our platter, unfortunately, was proportioned fat>muscle. Sad times. After lunch we lounged some more and I typed more. Then we decide to go to Hugo’s house to do our homework, make dinner and use Internet. It was a blast. Got most of my blogs up, finished our ridiculous homework about a spider (who resembles a person in the pictures) who eats chimpanzee tails and tricks animals into becoming it’s prey. Bad spider. Dinner (eggplant, green peppers, onions and tomatoes with salt and instant mashed potatoe porriage) was good. Yum. Internet was ridiculous as always. Uploaded pictures and commented on everyone else’s. But overeall – all we did todday was loung and eat. Perfect. Everyone else drank – but I steered clear of it becaues my intestines and I are at war.

Mam na rata n bang Mooré

December 15, 2010

First day of this mini-stage and, surprisingly, it wasn’t as torturous as we all assumed it would be. We’re splitting our learning into two languages: le Français and Mooré, and to make things even more enjoyable we are utilizing both formal learning style and then application. So we have two hours of French in the morning, two hours of applying that French within the city, break for lunch, then we apply our Mooré for an hour and 45 minutes, then meet to learn Mooré for an hour and a half.

Today – since it was our first day in the city – we went around saluering (greeting) important(ish) people like the guys at the post office, the police, and the people Hugo (one of the volunteers who live here) works with. We learned that pretty much 87% of the population speaks French which is a HUGE change from where we all have been in the past three months (and probably why we’re refreshing our vocabulary and grammar). But really all we did was tour the city and then learn a few words in Mooré: Roli/Doli = petit ami (boyfriend or girlfriend) ß the difference between using an “R” or a “D” depends on what part of the country you’re in and has nothing to do with gender. I forgot what else we learned, but I didn’t have my notebook on me so I couldn’t write it down.

Anyway, Christmas and New Years are still getting planned. Looks like I’ll be traveling with Ashley to Josh’s site for the festivities of Noel. Shannon will also be there (one of his site mates), so I won’t be a third wheel. New Years – well, that is definitely undetermined. I’m not worried about it and don’t mind (at this point) if I spend it alone at site. I’m not with the people I most want to spend that day/night with – so why put so much pressure on myself to make it memorable? It’s just another day in a year && I’ve got two of them here. Speaking of time here: I’ve figured I really only have 13 months of work here: Pretty much, the first 6 months at site are used to get integrated, learn the people, language and functions of your work and then you have your 13 months of work, (accumulated) 2 months of travel and the last 3 months are for closing up your work, saying goodbye to your village and then preparing to go home. So I’m feeling a little better about it all.

Sheep go to Heaven, Goats go to Hell

Thursday, 9 Decembre 2010

Our New Years has officially been canceled due to Ashley and Josh’s engagement and marriage plans. They both want to be married sometime during the hot season and they want a plane ride to be included in those plans – so money and vacation days need to be saved for that time. This ultimately means I’ll be spending (more than likely) Christmas somewhere local and New Years is still in the works: Ashley wants to go to the south-west and Josh wants to go to the far south east and at this time I frankly don’t care anymore due o the fact that ANYWHERE we go in-country will not be beachside. :[ Damn. I honestly think I’ll be spending at least one of those holidays in site.

To be more positive about this situation: I need to think about all the work I can get one before IST (in-service training): PACA and writing both an English and French version of my report d’etude. I’ll have an extra week to complete these tasks – I might as well look forward to that and put on a responsible mindset. Also – mom is thinking about visiting me before I come home next year for a couple of weeks. She said “I don’t know if I can wait a whole year until I see you again.” Aww… so maybe March? But also – maybe it would be better for both of us if she waited until summer.

  • March 2011 = BF/Destination TBA (wedding?): 7days
  • April 2011 = Ghana/BF: 4-5days
  • December 2011= Americaland: 21/14days
  • February 2012 = Spain: 14days
  • May 2012 = Destination TBA: 2/9days

March and May are vacations that aren’t exactly set & the number of days would count as vacation, not necessarily the number of days I’d be visiting or having visitors.

Aside from all that talk about vacation, I have completed 4 days of working out! But dear GOD! My body is rebelling. My feet have blisters all over the place & I think my middle toe nail on my left foot is gonna fall off and the same could happen to my other foot. My legs are sore beyond belief. My abs are swollen and my ass might literally fall off. Ha. But I’m gonna keep this up. Everyday that I don’t go to Sapouy I’ll be running around 16:00 & then completing the likes of abs, push ups, lunges and jump rope.

As of right now I am able to run about 7 km (I need to master that without walking) and I’ll increase my distance throughout my months of training.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“I’m a Single Cell on a Serpant’s Tongue”

December 08, 2010 Wednesday

I’m always amazed at how music takes command of my emotions. I know I’ve said this before – but I don’t think I’ll ever get over this amazement. Different bands trigger different friends, shows, relationships, failures, and successes, all things connected to me. I even feel things I don’t want to. Frustrations. Annoyances. Fights with loved ones. Sadness. But the joy I get from remembering overrules those distractions.

At a moment I was disappointed at the actions and decisions of past friends, was in the middle of a fight with an ex, was too numb to say my true feelings to the one I was with, contemplately what failure really means – but then I was driving to a concert, flirting with my best friend, cooking dinner with my lady love, hula hooping outside, running at night with my co-workers, driving with my sisters, listening to records with my mom, washing the car with my dad. I was in Huffman, Dallas, Austin, Midland, Wichita Falls, San Marcos, and Houston.

Music holds me together and rips me apart. Music means so much to me. I really don’t know where I’d be without it. But some music needs new memories – I am caught thinking of people I don’t want to think about due to music I shared with them, moments in time when they were important but now are the very last thing I’d want to think about. I know sometimes these memories are good – but right now I wish I had different ones playing in my head. I guess I’ll just have to make new ones when I get back to the States.

“You’re the yellow bird I’ve been waiting for”

Bells Are Ringing

Tuesday, Decembre 7, 2010

It’s official: Everyone in my village (that I consistantly talk to) believes I’ll be marrying Adam in 2014 or 2016. They think this because I have pictures of him and tell them that he is my best friend, along with Ashley (but of course they wouldn’t think I would marry her, oh no, not this country). So, I guess I should let him know so he can start planning.

But then again, Alisone said I should marry Frank Arriaga (yes, the Frank from TCI) simply because he thought he was handsome. Silly stuff. He also told me, as we were going though pictures on my computer, that I had too many men: Frank, Adam, Chris and (Adam, you’ll love this one) Jeremy. Ha. These accusations are conjured up simply because of random pictures of the above gentlemen and me. I guess the people in my village shouldn’t know about the other relationships… whoops?

Worked out once again today!! Second day and counting. I really hope to keep this routine going strong. Really trying to get my butt into liking running again. I remember loving my early morning runs when I was in CC. Gotta get that back, I think I really need that in my life right now.

Bad News: we may not be going to Togo for New Years after all. Engagements happened, money needs to be saved, and now we’re thinking vacation days need to be saved for hot season. I guess it isn’t such a blow – but I am actually pretty bummed.

More details to come.

100 Days in Village

Decembre 6, 2010 Lundi

Nothing extraordinary happened other than men beating some sorghum and singing while they do it. It’s times like these that I wish I had a camera that also took video. Damn Canon xSi!! But I did bring out my camera and took a few snapshots of the men at work and then again of the women.

One man called me la blanche and I quickly called him le noir and told him that my name is Lauren. I hate it when people call me la blanche. He didn’t at first understand my point by calling him le noir. He said, yes, but you’re blanc. And I told him that I don’t go around calling people le noir here and I also told him I don’t like being called that. So he understood and apologized – which is nice.

What isn’t nice is when a functionaire calls you la blanche while conversing about you (in front of you) to another nurse. Yeah. I about died. This new nurse knows my name, but she still chose to use the derogatory term la blanche when speaking about me RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I looked up and said “la blanche huh?” and Agathe said to her “She doesn’t like that, her name is Lauren,” but then the new nurse (Mariam) didn’t seem to understand. I called her la noir and she said “Yes, I am black” but then I said “Yes, but you also have a name.” It was pointless arguing with her… so I just shook my head and continued with my work, very pissed off.

Aside from that: Meningites vaccination campaign is today through the 15th & our village’s day is Wednesday! Hopefully I’ll be conducting another PACA tool on Friday – speaking with the Peuhl women. I’m really excited to be getting so much work done before IST. Let’s hope I can finish it all before the training comes around.

Also – worked out today. I hope to shed a few pounds before we vacation in Togo. Damn birth control made me gain a little within that horrid month && I know cameras, bathing suits and the beach will be included in our little New Years vacation to the coast.

So I’m not a Burden?

Decembre 2, 2010

I felt like I actually HELPED today! I was helping at the maternity with baby weightings’. I actually was allowed to keep track and record of all the babies coming in and tell the major if the baby had lost or gained weight. When the major left to go tend to a sick person at the dispensary, I was in charge of writing all the information and data into the baby’s booklet! Finally I feel like I’m not just in the way of everyone here.

Side note: Tomorrow I’ll be going to Sapouy to get oatmeal, candles and pick up my medication from OA (malaria prophylaxis). I’ve forgotten the last two times I’ve been in town.

Ultra side note: Started my period today for the first time since the end of June. This is exciting news – I hope this means my body is actually beginning to accept we’ll be here for a while.

Un GROS Araigné

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My heart is thumping in my chest and my nerves feel like they’re on over drive. I’m all kinds of shaken up again: I saw the BIGGEST SPIDER ON THE PLANET EARTH!

The Scorpion Carrier!

So, I’m cooking dinner, though I’m not that hungry, and notice something that crept along the wall – I thought it was another salamander (one scared me this afternoon while cooking lunch) but I noticed it seemed a lot bigger and didn’t move as spastically. So I try to shine my lanterns light on it, but it was hiding.

Why does it always have to be night when creepy crawlers come out?!!

Now I’m even more curious – I bang the table to see if it would scuttle away – but I see no movement. I finally see something HUGE come out from between my propane gas tank and my big metal bowl that holds my dishes.


I ran like I was in football practice, high-knees through car tires.

I know now it’s not a salamander – and I didn’t know if it was a scorpion or a scorpion carrier or just another breed of scary-ass insects! Alor, naturally my neighbor comes over, panicked, and asks what?! And I’m shaking and crying already – so I’m not much help when she’s asking questions. She finally steps into my house and asks again what is it? And all I can muster up is “c’est gros gros gros gros!” She asks “where?” and I point to where I last saw it. By this time another woman shows up, then another. They’re all asking “what?” “what’s wrong?” “where is it?” and then we see it!! I scream again and now there are four women, one man and two kids either in my house or on my patio. I’m scared shitless (excuse my French) and they all assure me it doesn’t do anything: “il faire rien.” It scurries its scary big body away and under my tent. I’m freaking out because I just want it DEAD and out of my house. My other neighbor finally kills it with my ballé (hand broom) and the man picks it up and takes it outside. I stop him and tell him I want to look at it close up. It’s DISGUSTING! It’s huge and it’s legs are long and its pinchers are big and furry and its thorax is enormous and elongated. Honestly – this thing is huge. The biggest spider I have ever seen in real life. All the people in my house say that it doesn’t bit – but it’s still scary and why would I not want it in my house?! Its name is SCORPION CARRIER. I’m just waiting for a scorpion to show up.

  • 5 scorpions
  • 4 bats
  • 1 scorpion carrier
  • 16+ other spiders

All that’s missing is a snake. Geez – that better not EVER happen.

I’m super flippin’ freaked out.

On a side note: I truly hate flies. I don’t know how many times I have said it – but I hate them. Despise them. Will never be indifferent towards them. NEVER. I was working on my computer today at the pharmacy and for some reason it was infested with flies. I don’t know if Agathe’s son being there is a cause, but I don’t remember here being that many flies before he came around. I also despise people hovering over me while I’m working

But I do love music – which helped me not punch that hovering lady today.

I listened to ABBA today and all I could think of was Ashley’s dad and how much she told me of his love of ABBA. Ha. I miss her! I can’t wait for April to get here. I hope she's able to come and isn’t pulling my leg. J

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Day Thus Far

30 Novembre 2010, Tuesday

I am tempted to say that today was the best I've had since I've been in village. WOW. I'll break it down for y'all.

6:05 - Get up and out of my tent, boil water for oatmeal. *Was going to wake up at 5:00, but soon remembered I didn't have enough water for a bucket bath.

6:12 - Go out to latrine. Damn it's cold! Say hi to my neighbors

6:20 - Wash face with freezing cold water

6:25 - Prepare oatmeal: water, quick oats, sugar, and powdered milk plus a dash of cinnomen

6:30 - Get dressed, put sunscreen on, fix hair

6:45 - Out the door and off to the CSPS, gotta get there early for a PACA tool I'm conducting with the Mossi women. Don't forget oatmeal on the go!

7:10 - Eat oatmeal while waiting for Mossi women to arrive and wait for Alisone to show up

7:45 - Realize NO ONE has shown up and begin to be quite disappointed. Tell Alisone my worries so he goes to try to gather women

8:10 - Two women show up. Alisone confronts them about the time and then realizes I want/need to go to Sapouy today for the marché. He suggests doing (the PACA) tomorrow and re-organizing the women. The two women say more are on the way

8:30 - About 11 women are here... good enough

8:45 - Alisone wants to start at 9:00 to give more women time to show up

9:00 - 32 women are at the CSPS. We start

10:30 - Finish the PACA: 64 women showed up & I was informed of two women's group within the community! *a BIG success* I'm very proud of myself and glad I could make the women talk and laugh with me during the activity

11:50 - Leave for Taré to catch the camion by 13:00

13:58 - KGB rolls around and I jump on

14:15 - Arrive in Sapouy! Go buy the following:
  • Charger for my phone
  • Power strip to charge things at CSPS
  • Pagne (two of 'em)
  • Bread, onions, garlic, cabbage, chives, squash, eggplant, green peppers
  • Send letters at the post
16:00 - Catch a bus back to Taré

The rest of my day was full of laughter. I gave Agathe green peppers, eggplant and a head of cabbage! Shared potats with her sone Pierre (which means rock or stone in French) and the CoGes President and, of course, Prudence (the major's dog). Attempted to share with a donkey - but he was too confused as to why I wasn't beating or chasing him with a stick. So he refused to let me come near him. Later I took a hot bucket bath, cleaned dishes, wrote in my planner and put away groceries. Went back to the CSPS to eat tô with the major, Agathe and Safia. Yum. Almost ate the head of a chicken on accident - thought it was a leg. That was pretty terrible but really funny. Then we talked about ghosts here in Burkina - apparently there a lot of phantoms here and seems like everyone believes in them. Interesting. Was completely scared to death by a chick whom I thought was the predator who was attacking/hunting the chicks... and so I was completely laughed But I laughed too! ha. Called Adam. He's FINALLY gonna send my care package. I'll expect to see it after the New Years. Went home and now I'm writing.

Don't know why - but I feel & have felt REALLY good today. Very positive and like my old self before birth control.

Love it.

Black Friday

26 Novembre 2010

Instead of hustling and bustling to department stores and scrounging for the best sales, I am at my house... in Burkina Faso... oversleeping and recovering from the 108km I biked in the past 2 days. ha. So Thanksgiving was yesterday and all I wanted was to be home with my family, but, of course, I was stuck here in this damn country. I met up with Emily in Sapouy for the holiday: this is what I brought with me, on my bike.

  • Beans which were soaked overnight
  • Boiled sweet potatoes
  • Box of organic vegetable stock
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Potass (potassium for the beans)
  • Chives
  • Smushed bread, :[
  • Instant mashed potatoes (so good!)
We made a vegetarian Moroccan-spiced soup, stuffing, mashed potatoes with garlic&chives, and sweet potatoes!

Overall it was a good day - nothing compared to how it would be back home... but good. The highlight of the day was when i got to talk to my mom and dad and then Devon! I tried to convince my parents to bake a pie en lieu of the holiday... not sure if it worked. Only ingredient missing this day was Bean - I don't know how to reach her via cellphone.

I miss my family so much.

No Holiday Cheer Here

Tuesday, 23 Novembre 2010

Talked with Sylvie today about my mood swings and birthcontrol and she suggests that I stop taking this kind – finish the pack – but no more after that. I don’t know if she wants me to try a different brand, but she put me on the one with the least amount of hormones – and at the drop of a nail I can change – so I don’t think a boost in hormones is any kinds of good for me. Good news: I can, possibly, stop being so down in the dirt. Bad news: I’m not on birth control with can start regulating my period.

Thanksgiving is only two days away and it’s not fun to be away from family and friends. I want to be home. I want to be able to spend the entire day at home with mom and dad and the animals and hopefully Devon and Berto and then the only thing missing would be Bean, but she’d be there too.

I miss miss miss my family.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt or been this alone.

I am not a fan.

Birth Control: I Hate You

Monday, 22 Novembre 2010

I’m angry. Sad. Annoyed. Lonely. Frustrated. Tired. I don’t know what comes over me when I get like this – but I’ve aquired quite a short fuse lately. Anything can set me off into a sour mood – whether I’m sad, angry, frustrated, annoyed or what have you – I can switch from content to the above emotions with a flick of the wrist. On top of that, it’s incredibly difficult to set me back. I should call Sylvie about it. Tell her the birth control is making me insane.

I’m tired of writing already.

PACA: 1 down, 7 to go

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Woke up later than I originally planned, 5:30 instead of 5:00, but had breakfast (oatmeal to go) at the CSPS and ended up waiting an hour and a half for women to being showing up and then ten more minutes for Alisone (my translator) to show up: appologizing and saying he was rounding up the women.

So – I successfully completely my first PACA tool today with the help of Alisone and about 25 to 30 women of the Gourounsi ethnic group. It was good practice – the information gathered is useful, but only proves what I had already known: these women work from day up to day end. It was, I will say, a little nerve-wracking because there were so many women there – I wasn’t expecting a group like that. Nor was I expecting all the questions to be directed at a small group of them – nor did I want just a few of the women to only answer. This is why it was a good first round: only room for improvements in the next 7 PACAs. Gourounsi men, Mossi women and men, Feulfeuldé women and men, and the CoGes/Staff of the CSPS.

I only did the daily schedule with the women this morning, which means that’s the only PACA I’ll complete with the community. I’ll also be doing a needs assessment with the Staff of the CSPS and then one again with the CoGes. I would really like to do community mapping with the three ethnic groups, but I don’t know how I would set that up and who I could invite – becauce I would not be able to handle 25 men and 25 women from each ethnic group. No!

One thing that bothered me the most about this PACA was that I felt uneasy – I felt as if the women didn’t want to be there – but at the end of the activity all the women clapped and said thank you. I jus wish there were something I could do at the end of the sessions to give closure: or a good reason for them being there and not be a waste of their time. Maybe I just don’t know and am reading the group wrongly. Maybe they just don’t know how to openly show they don’t mind being away from their work?

Anyway: I’m getting more comfortable with my hair the way it is. I still don’t think it’s the best look for me, but it will do – and I will say it doesn’t look half bad now that I give it a chance.

I sill find myself slip into thoughts of “why am I here” and “I would be better off at home going back to school.” But I know nothing is there for me: except family, vagabond and beak, and DEBT! So I then find myself halfway releaved to be here – but still can’t fathom being here for 2 years.

On a brighter note: I’ve got a complet (shirt and skirt from the same material) in the works at a local tailor. Depending on how he does – I’ll stay with him or find another.

Here Kitty, Kitty

Wednesday 17 Novembre 2010

I just went chasing after a kitten in my courtyard. The kittens that were born a while back – they left the family compound before I could get my hands on one – well, they’re feisty now!! I got one, but he hissed and hollered and tried to bite me so I finally had to drop him. Dang. I gotta get one of them. Or maybe next time I’ll snatch one a little too early, feed it baby formula and have it get used to human touch before it hates the very thought of it.

Dr. Claude comes to visit tomorrow. Kinda bums me out since I was gonna go to the marché tomorrow in Sapouy, but I guess it’s okay. I’ll go Friday and see if anyone (other volunteers) is out there too. I doubt I’ll be leaving site until a week after elections: that’s on Sunday. So I have to make due with what I can find Friday for the following Thursday (Thanksgiving!!). My first Thanksgiving away from home. That’s a little weird…okay, it’s really really really weird.

It will be a year and a half since I will have seen my parents come this next December (2011) when I go home for Christmas. So strange.

A side note: I’m talking to a group of Gourounsi women: my first PACA tool!! I’m really intimidated. I think I’ll go over the program with Agathe (whom I think will be translating) tomorrow so she can help me explain the objective properly.

A further side note: sometimes I really miss working at Maximus up in Wichita Falls. What the heck? Maybe I just really being that confident in myself… here it’s pretty difficult to actually feel good, sexy, confident. Not even possible. Ha. Oh well.

Happy Tabaski Day?

Tuesday, 16 Novembre 2010

I ate way too much food today. Period. Damn Fête. I’m completely stuffed. Fatty fatty 2x4 is all that’s in my head right now and all I want to do is sleep.

“You Look Terrible”

Monday, 15 Novembre 2010

How can I start talking/writing about today? It’s been one week on birthcontrol and I don’t know if my body likes it or maybe I don’t like really being able to feel what I do about where I am.

So I woke up only because I had to and was completely unmotivated. Unmotivated to get up. Unmotivated to go to the CSPS. Unmotivated to eat. Unmotivated to shower.

As I finish my oatmeal (I decided I should eat for fear of my stomach being ultra sensitive to missing one morning of fiber) I decide I’m going to cut my hair again. Finish cutting my hair would be more accurate to say. So I put my “above the shoulder” length hair up into a low-slung ponytail and then I take my scissors to it. Chop the tail right off. Now I’m left with a Victoria Beckham-esque hair cut and decide to chop at it some more. I don’t like the a-symmetricality of that 1st cut and decide to just go for a twiggy hair cut. Yes, it’s that short. I’m done and look at myself in my very small mirror and say outloud “you look terrible.” I immediately regret cutting my hair and walk aimlessly around my small kitchen area and start to cry. Softly and to myself at first and then get down on my knees and compact my body and let the waterworks flow. I cried, no, I bawled for a good 45 minutes until my neighbors came over and tried to greet me while I was crying on the floor. Finally, because I was ignoring them, a french-speaking woman came into my house and attempted to comfort me. Asking me why I’m crying? Am I sick? Why did I cut my hair? Etc. Eventually I mumble some words in French and she tells me to calm down and stop crying – to take a shower, go to Sapouy for the marché and calm down. No more crying.

This is difficult for me – to stop crying. Everytime my hands reach my head expecting to find my long hair they become shocked and shrivel back to my sides and I have this very strong wave crash into me and I feel my eyes welling up.

So – shower, I did. & Rode my bike to Kation to see if I could catch a camion/bus because I wasn’t up for the 27km bike ride. Instead, I was greeted by the Jamaican man who loves the Police, Rolling Stones and Scorpion and he buys me a small watermelon and sets me up with a ride to Sapouy from another English speaking individual. Before I get in the truck the Jamaican man asks me “Why you cut your hair, man?” I said “I was having a bad day.” Ha. So I get to Sapouy and go get a spot at the bar, get a Fanta and a saché of water, cut my watermelon and share it with the surrounding men around me. Go to the poste (post office) at 15:00 and am greeted by closed doors. Damn. Really the only reason I came. Oh well – Go to the marché and buy eggplant, garlic and bread and at the small boutique I buy oil, Sprite, cookies and vinegar. I was hoping to find green peppers, but no such luck. I ride my bike back to site and give Agathe, who’s sick at the time, two bananas. I end up eating dinner at her place. I don’t know why – but she continues to ask me why I cut my hair. Really, I don’t know. Why not?

Snip Snip

Friday, 12 Novembre 2010

Day 5 of birthcontrol. I seem to feel fine. Maybe a little bit less enthusiastic about being here… I should tell Sylvie about that slight mood change.

Also – cut my hair today.

Yes. I. Cut/Chopped. Off. My. Own. Hair. I’m not done. It’s at the “awkward, growing out stage” which doesn’t make much sense because I just cut it… so I’m gonna take my scissors to it again tomorrow and really cut it short. I figured I might as well chop it all off now instead of waiting another year and not have it grown out when I get back to the States. Hopefully it will grow out healthy.

Told ma that I cut my hair. Her first words, very faint and quite: “how short?!” and then when I said pretty short, but I’m gonna cut more… she said “uh oh, you’re not well at all” WHAT? Just because I cut my hair doesn’t mean I’m not well. Dang it. But I understand her concern and I know she’s just worried that I’m not okay. She always jumps at the slightest opportunity to help me: “I’ll find a book on that language and send it to you.” So sweet. But I really need her to take care of herself and pops. She’s been sick for so long: since June! I need her to get well! I don’t want anything, not one thing bad to happen while I’m away. Not even bad: I don’t want anything slightly bad, wrong, unpleasant, not okay to happen. I want ma & pa to be happy and healthy while I’m away. Really – I do.

Current book: “The End of Eternity” by Isaac Asimov

Damn you Sci-Fi books!! So nerdy, but so good.


Thursday, 11 October 2010

It’s November and I haven’t done any PACA tools. WTF? I need to do my damn job but it’s difficult without direction. It’s difficult without a superior – not even that – it’s difficult being the 1st volunteer at site. They don’t what what to do with me and I don’t quite not what I’m supposed to do here.

Sensibilisations: okay. About what?

Family Planning and the importance of “spacing” out children so they have the means to raise them and give them a healthy life. This also includes the steps to take once you are pregnant. Yes, but for what? Their lives will consist of the same hardships. Okay: Devil’s advocate. Stop it.

HIV/AIDS is not a big priority here due to the fact that the percentage of the population infected is quite low.

Nutrition: or lack there of. Malnurished children are not a big problem here. Okay, no, even a small percentage of malnurished children is a BIG problem && to talk about a good, balanced and healthy diet is always important.

Palu: Malaria is the number one problem in every part of Burkina Faso. Because it’s such a big issue and quite serious, I don’t know if I have the means to take on that task! Why is there not government funding for prophylaxis of malaria? Tablets like the ones I take on a weekly basis to prevent the infestation of the protozoan parasite within my red blood cells? Mayber there is, and I just don’t know about it?

Those are the four basic areas of which I need to “help.” Intestinal parasites would be put under Nutrition. But then also, there is the issue of hygiene. First and foremost I need to learn the vocabulary to properly talk and “sensibilize” about these 4 to 5 topics. I also need to learn the correct and detailed information of the above subjects. That’s where the IST (in-service training) comes in, I suppose.

Selfish Reasons

Wednesday, 10 Novembre 2010

I had a good but sad filled day. I ready two books: “PUSH” by Saphire and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. I had started and finished “The Last Unicorn” in just over one day. Why am I hiding myself in books again? For the first time I thought to myself that I really don’t want to be here… and if I do… I might be here for the wrong reasons… I quickly shrugged these off and blamed my blue mood. But am I really here because I want to be or because I know I should be and this is because I don’t know what else I would do? Am I here because I know it will do ME good when 2 years come and go? What is this nonsense? I should be here because I care about helping these people who live in this community – if not to start big projects, at least to help one person. Am I not here because I am a selfless person? Why am I thinking in such selfish ways? Where does selfless come from when there is still the root of self. You cannot act upon one thing without thinking of the effects on you…or can you? I guess I’m still learning – I’m always learning. But most of all I’m learning about myself/others/and how we all meld together. I know I have acted when there was no such reward for myself – but I also know that the ability to say that is an award in itself, is it not? Selfless and selfish meld together as you and I do. If we were all selfless I do believe the world would come to a standstill. If we truly were all selfless our being would disappear because we wouldn’t have anyone to be selfless towards. I hate it. But the world seems to need selfishness in order for there to be those who give themselves to others.

Or maybe I’m being selfish in wanting to be selfless.

Maybe I’m just playing with words.

Escherichia coli: 1, Giardia lamblia: 1, Me: 0

Monday, 8 Novembre 2010

I haven’t written in such a long time – I technically had time, but I didn’t choose to use it because I had access to 1st world luxuaries again: TV, movies, running water, shower, toilet, A/C, internet (not all the time), refridgerator. 1st world luxaries I didn’t ever think to appreciate when I had them 24/7. So – to say the least, I was distracted. Why was I graced by all these niceties? I was in Ouaga for one thing and then on top of that I got sick (again) and stayed the night in the med unit. Wednesday, 27 Oct. I left for Ouaga due to doctor’s orders.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Wed. Leave for Ouaga (PCMO’s orders): catch 14:00 bus from Sapouy
  • Thu. Meet with Sylvie again: found nothing in stool sample: gave me metemucil. Released from doctor.
  • Fri. Leave Ouaga due to no housing: catch 17:00 bus, stay night in Sapouy
  • Sat. Leave Sapouy @ 12:30. Go back at 16:00
  • Sun. Catch 7:00 bus for Ouaga to go to SIAO
  • Mon. Banks closed. No SIAO
  • Tue. SIAO!! // get fever that night
  • Wed. Call Sylvie because of persistent fever. Bacteria found in stool
  • Thu. See Jean Luk because still feel sick. One more stool sample
  • Fri. Parasite found!!
  • Sat. Stay in med unit
  • Sun. Get back to site.

So a week of that was for medical purposes. Now I have the lovely task of explaining to all the people in my village as to why I was away from site for 10 nights and too many days. I got sick in Ouaga, damn it! So in reality: I used 4 TAC (time away from community) days and should be reimbursed for the other days I was in Ouaga because of those medical purposes.

Next big news: Dr. Claude (the APCD, or the head cheese of the Community Health sector in Burkina Faso) is supposidly coming to my site Wednesday! But I don’t know if that’s a good idea… I need to call her today and see what she thinks – but first I need to figure out what my major was saying about another village & tomorrow (are we going somewhere?!)

Aside from all this, I feel healthy now – Finally! I want & need to start training for this damn marathon come this hot season. That’s 7 months from now (I think) and if I don’t start now I’m not going to be able to run it.

My Health has Climbed into a Well

26 October 2010

So I’ve been consistently sick for the past two days: have had a steady fever (99.8 – 102.6) and my stomach aches… not cramping… not spastically coming and going… but an ongoing soreness. I don’t know what that means, but I’m definitely going to call a PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and make an appointment. So with me feeling more than under-the-weather, I have been at my house, never leaving except to use the latrine, for the past 48 hours. Solitary confinement with a twist: an unlimited number of visitors who barge into your own little space and then attempt to make conversation in a foreign language. I know: they’re only seeing if I feel better – they don’t want anything bad to happen to their very first nassara. But geez, it gets pretty tiring to always put on a smile when you feel like shit – or stand up and meet someone at the door because you don’t want them to come in when your stomach feels like it’s going to rip in two. T I R I N G, I tell you. But the major (the head nurse at the CSPS) and Agathe have been all too kind. They have been checking up on me every so often. Congo (the major) came by with a blood pressure machine and a thermometer – and Agathe came armed with bouille (porridge-like substance made from millet here) and at night: rice with minimal flavor to ward off cramping. So nice.

On top of all his: I have a ridiculous pimple on my jaw line and a sty on my left lower eyelid. :[ But with this “free” time I’ve jumped into more than half of “Kafka on the Shore,” cleaned/cut my nails and toe-nails, shaved my legs and thoroughly washed my hair. Joy. Oh – and cleaned my house, made a shopping list for Ouaga and thought all too much about my place back home: friends, family, Splashtown, apartments, schooling, love affairs, lost friendships, the price difference of different states, the job market, vacation time… yes. All. Too. Much.

Maybe I’ve ingested too much bleach? (we put a tiny bit of bleach in our water to kill bacteria and parasites after we filter it) My gut is taught and hard and makes me think of all the problems my mom has with her digestive system. Maybe I have appendicitis? Possibly something wrong with my pancreas? What about a big, huge worm taking vacation in my small/large intestines? How about an ulcer? Man, who knows… I just hope a PCMO figures it out and I hope it’s nothing serious… maybe just a build up of gas?! Ha. That’d be hilarious. Diagnosis: Flatulants are caught in your large intestine and can’t escape from your colon. Nice. But I secretely, not so secret anymore, hope that if it is serious: I hope it’s enough to get me a nice vacation outside the country. Terrible, huh? Not so much. I’m still waiting for my wisdom to come in so I can take a trip to Senegal or South Africa. Hey now – no judgemental eyes: all PCVs do this

… I think.

Three Epiphanies in One Day

23 October 2010

  • Epiphany #1: I enjoy tô
  • Epiphany #2: I really enjoy being at site
  • Epiphany #3: Schedules/Routines are wanted/needed

Phew! That’s a lot for one day. I rode back to village from Sapouy today after spending the night at Emily’s house (even though I really wanted to get back to site – she’s really persuasive). The ride back was okay today. Hot. But overall, just okay… even with my iPod. Lately I’ve been enjoying the ride, but today was different. Sapouy is good – I love being able to drink cold beverages whenever I want: frozen bissap, cold soda, water, frosty beer: but I’ve realized this taints my tongue and tricks my mouth when I get back to village. Yes – I love the marché, and it’s necessary if I want a well balanced diet, but I have dinner with Agathe (the pharmacist) at least 4 nights out of the week, at least lately. The produce don’t stay long without refrigeration, so I guess what I’m saying is I don’t think I need to leave site too often. Yes, I will more than likely go to Sapouy once a week for marché and to check mail – but aside from that I don’t think I’ll be traveling there to spend the night. If I’ll travel – I want to do so in a way to see other sites like mine. That way I won’t be spending much money – nor would I be wasting my time in a city when I could be integrating.

I enjoy tô (pronounced toe): I do. Not much to explain there. It’s difficult to explain what tô is, so I’ll let your imagination wander. Just know it’s comprised of flour made from corn, millet or sorghum mixed into boiling water & thickened to the consistency of cold porridge (but hot) and then accompanied by a variety of sauces. My appreciation of tô is solely based on the sauce; if the sauce is good, then the tô is good. I love two sauces and need to learn their names so I can learn how to prepare them here and back at home: YES! I do want to show you all tô.

Needing and wanting a schedule has been a long time coming. Training for a marathon requires a set schedule and routine. It’s more of a need, but I’ve realized I do want it as well. But this need to workout is both for my health and for appearance: everything in this country is carb after carb, and I’m afraid if I don’t work out and continue to do so – I will gain weight. And no one wants that – well, except for ALL the Burkinabè here who insist that I eat more so I CAN gain weight. They want me to go home fat so everyone back in the States thinks this country is bien. Ha.

My Attempt at Organizing my Life

22 October 2010

My mind has been crowded with talks of marriage. Let’s get back to here: where I am: small village: Burkina Faso: West Africa: 5 hours ahead of the life I knew back in the States. No births lately. The top 3 maladies: Palu (malaria), Rhinosomethingoranother (upper respiratory infection), and Parasitosis (intestinal parasites). The groups being affected the most: Adult women & children/infants ages 1-4. What does this mean? It means (when I start being able to do work) my sensiblisations should be targeted towards women with children. What to do next? PACA (if I knew the exact meaning of those four letters, I would write them out for you all – just know it’s different community focused, participatory activities to study the culture, community and mindsets of the people). What PACA tool? Daily activities of all the different women and men: including all three ethnic groups: Mossi, Gourounsi, and Feulfeuldé. Then talk to the members of CoGes (Comité de Gestion – I don’t know how to translate this, sorry). I need to do a needs assessment with the staff of the CSPS also.

Either way – I have too much music flowing through me. I’ve realized I want and more than anything else need this music.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where is my Foundation?

21 Octobre 2010

Sometimes I wonder what I'll really do for the rest of my life. Will I really be a doctor? Or will I give up my dream career and my aspirations to be a damn good mother? Or will I end up being a photographer? Will I end up working a 9-5 so I can come home and fix dinner by 7:30pm? Will I travel the world, unmarried to a man, but rather married to my career? Like Dr. Farmer, who's married - but more so to his never ending list of patients. I really don't know. It all sounds so far away, but I know and feel as if it's right around the corner. Will I stay close to my family? Will my Beak and Vagabond be with me through my journey?

This is what I love about the future: you don't know. You can plan and plan until you can't and when the everchanging mistriss of time rolls around and shows you how she sees things - it will, more than likely, be entirely different than what you had in mind. I love it - and I hate it. All at the same time. I am so curious to know how it will pan out, but I am also very much worried that my planning is simply - to be frank - a waste of time and whatever happens is beyond what I can plan and has been laid out in the hands of karma, a higher being, what have you. Maybe my former self has already made my future his or her past and the present is merely a tape player rewinding itself. I guess, I suppose, I should be patient. That's one characteristic I need to work on: Patience. I am too American for that virtue. I must rid my roots and cling to a calm mind.

I feel like a "nestless bird"
- Ti Jean of Haiti
- Mountains Beyond Mountains

This Must Be The Place :Naïve Melody:

Home, it's where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me 'round
I feel numb. Born with a weak heart
Guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
make it up as we go along

Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's okay: I know nothing's wrong...


Higher: I've got plenty of time
Higher: you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time

Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight...

say goodnight

Home: it's where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home: she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place

I can't tell one from another:
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be

where I'll be

Higher: we drift in and out
Higher: sing into my mouth

Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two

And you love me till my heart stops:
love me till I'm dead

Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head

Bears and Pipes Don't Live Here


Went to yet another satellite village aujourdhui and was greeted by a woman who asked me for my bike, a man who came from his house just to saluer me, a handful of curious children with penetrating eyes and a cheif who was more than happy when I spoke his language.

The bike ride (just 6 or 7 km) was really lovely and surprisingly the route was not as treacherous as most of the others. By the time we were about done saying hello to everyone and the cheif, a gargantuan storm was brewing to the south(?) of us. We left to beat the rain home and I thought we were going to get caught in the downpour. Instead we were blasted with strong winds and dark haunting clouds hovered over us all the way back to village. When we got back we went to the CSPS and I ended up helping Agathe break kernels off the cob of dried corn. You do this with your thumbs, grasping the cob and pushing the kernels off sideways into your palm and then into the bowl. It seem simple - but it tore my thumb apart! I have a giant blister on my right hand thumb now. Great. It doesn't hurt, but it sure is big.

The rest of the day i went back home and fixed lunch: sautéed sweet potatoes with olive oil, garlic, lemon pepper and a side of lipton's cup-o-soup (chicken noodle). I thought this was appropriate due to the fact that it was actually...wait for it... chilly outside. It was probably no more than 80 degrees... So it has been extremely lovely outside today. I would dare to say cold, which would be correct in comparison to how it has been lately, but I'll stick with cool or even chilly. It was so refreshing to be able to sit in my house and not break a sweat. Actually I can confidently say I didn't sweat at all today! Even while riding my bike. That's unheard of. So - back to lunch, along with this nice potato and soup combo, I decided to add some "hot chocolate" which consists of powdered milk mixed in with filtered water: heat that up, add powdered chocolate mix (not at all like Nesquik) and a dash of cinnamon! It was delish.

Now I'm sitting at Agathe's house (really the pharmacy at the CSPS). She's making a call under the "rezou" tree and I will confess my feet are a wee bit cold. I can't believe it. Not sure if I'm gonna eat dinner with Agathe - but it seems every time she invites me over to chat at night (à ce soir?) she doesn't let me leave without having food in my belly. I swear - they are determined to have me leave this country FAT! I won't let that happen. But they always say I'm too small and need to get big!

Macaroni for dinner?

Dengui. Douweeah. Deheytoi.

18 Octobre 2010

I think I'm getting better at the everyday things here in my village! Finally. Greeting people, pumping my own water, cleaning my house, and just being here. I am definitely achieving objectives 2 & 3 right now. I just need to work on number 1. That requires a better understanding of the language though. And I am still doing a trial run with my tutor who is also the pharmacist at the CSPS.

I really enjoy her company. She's probably my only friend right now. She said it would be better if my house was across the way from the pharmacy (her house): that way we could spend all our time together: cooking dinner, chatting, eating dinner, working, washing clothes together, etc. She says my house is too far away.

That all made me really happy to hear. Really - our houses are just about the same distance, maybe closer, as my house in Huffman from Elyse's house - just down the street and to the right a wee bit. Really close.

Oh gosh - Hot season is gonna blow! It's just about the mini hot season now with the rain going away and I sweat constantly in my house and when the sun is blaring it's strong arms upon my body. Agathe said that the cold will come maybe at the end of November through the end of January or middle of February. The rain ends with the closing of this month. Bagh

From Paris to Tokyo

Standing on one foot with you're eyes on the track,
you're living life through a picture frame.
Stand up straight love, you're a balancing act,
but it's not enough to save your name.
Your hands are tied with this life you wish to live.
My eyes are blind to love you cannot give.

You can't fly with broken wings,
and I can't lie for the things I need.
Even though you shine with the light that's leading me,
I'll search for the dark to keep me company.
That's all I need.

One day you'll live in France
and spend your summers in Japan.
But you'll think of me at 30,000 feet
through a seven hour lifespan.

You are, you are married to your changing ways.
You are, you are the words I need to say
You're a rebellious bird no one can tame.
When I find my voice I'll say your name.
I'll say your name.

Into The Airwaves

From an empty room on the first floor as the cars pass by the liquor store,
I deconstruct my thoughts at this piano.
And it's all that I can do to stay with all the things I didn't say to you
before you moved across the country.
From the burning building where I lay as I watch the starts become the day,
the LA girls are lacing up their sneakers.
They run the boardwalks and the beach.
This fishbowl life is all they need - it's everything I needed too until I heard the news.

I'll send this message through the speakers.
You told me that you moved.
I'll cross this country on a frequency.

I am slipping through, I am slipping through, I am slipping into the airwaves.
This is nothing new. You are slipping through my fingers and into the airwaves.
The static's where you'll find me.

From the corner by the studio the gold-soaked afternoon comes slow.
I deconstruct my thoughts and I am walking by.
On the 3rd street the freak show thrives: Santa Monica's alive -
but something's not right inside living with the news.

So hang on, it's gonna be a hard day.
So hang on.
Don't panic, don't panic there's simply is no need.
it's gonna be a hard day.
We are hanging here.

"I Want to be the Edge of Your Imagination"

16 Octobre 2010

My oh my how the days grow long when you're alone.
I do wish I had people to talk to

"I'm fighting for love me, lust me, trust me; I'm fighting for air"

cat, I'm a kitty cat?

Otis Redding [Change is Gonna Come]

15 Octobre 2010

It's been a long time since I really wrote: really sat down and put my thoughts into words that flow onto this paper (and now a computer screen) through my machine-made pen. A. Long. Time. And, well, honestly I don't know where to start. Perhaps my inspiration is missing. Possibly my thoughts are interrupted by the crying babies, clucking hens, moaning donkeys, pounding shea nuts... perhaps, it is possible that I'm distracted.

This could be a wonderful thing - because that distraction would and could only be from where I'm living. Which, could and more than likely does mean that I'm focused, ever so slightly on the present instead of the future. This is one of my goals. To stay focused on the now - not what's to come two years or even seven months from now. Now. It is the moment. And it is my job. But then there is a chance that my blocked thoughts are derived from the fact that I am either not interested or am not being mentally involved in the everyday occurrences that are Burkina Faso.

Maybe the holidays are getting to me?
Maybe I need a holiday from the real.

I could have sworn the baby I witnessed being born today was a still born. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby boy's neck and he was a shade of pale slate blue. I had to leave the room. It was the scariest sight I had ever come upon. To make matters worse - the woman struggled so much to push him out. It seemed like a very tough birth - and the woman looked very young and scared. But good news: it was alive and cried a bit after the cord was untangled and he was cleaned. Hopefully he will live through many many years.

I asked the mother who gave birth yesterday why she had said she was afraid of the infant when she was born. I didn't know if this would be intrusive, or inappropriate - but it came out anyway. She explained that the baby gave her much physical and emotional pain. She was scared because she claims she doesn't have the means to raise the child. It's her second one: her first is a little boy. Her husband is a teacher in the village where they live (7 km outside of the one I live in.) She doesn't work. So I guess she's right to say she's scared - but it's more of a scared she won't be able to provide everything the infant may want or need. But then why oh why do so many women have 8-9 children? She's stopping at 2! She asked me how many I want and I replied with 3 or 4. She gasped at this number. She was also very shocked when I said I was too young for children right now at the age of 22. She then tells me 15 and 16 year olds have children here. At that age I was just starting to date and be "boy crazy." Boy! Not MAN! And I was a mere GIRL. Not even close to being ready for a baby of my own. Add ten years to that figure and then we can talk.

I guess, no... I know it's an entirely different world.
i n s a n e

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taste the Rainbow

14 Octobre 2010

Helped with another birth today. Held the woman's hand while she was walking around and then through the delivery. I was trying to keep her in high spirits - I'm not sure if I helped - but I'd like to think I did. She continued to say she wasn't strong and asking me why does she have to give birth? I just held her hand tight and tried universal language and body language.

She gave birth to a baby girl. When a baby is born, the nurse plops it down on the mama's stomach and tells the woman to hold it while she clamps and cuts the umbilical cord...well, with this woman was under the same rules and regulations (naturally) - but she refused to touch her newborn and was repeating that she was scared of the infant. So, I had to rush and put gloves on in order to hold the baby on the mama's stomach while the nurse clamped/cut the cord. I've never seen or thought a mother would be scared of her child! wow.

The mama was cleaned up, as well as the newborn girl and I got to carry the baby wrapped up in cloth to the recovery room! I can't see how the nurse just tosses the babies around - I'm so gentle with the babies. I always think I'm gonna break something: they're all so little and look so fragile!

After the birth I ate dinner with the major and some men, then the nurse and two women who are friends with the mama I helped out. Dinner consisted of rice with a oily tomatoey sauce with few veggies and more bones than meat...and a chicken fried in oil, but not breaded. But I did thoroughly enjoy a cold Fanta that my major had put in the CSPS' fridge. Yum!

I went to go say goodbye / goodnight to the new mother and asked what she'd named the baby girl and she stated she wanted to give me that responsibility because I helped her through the birth. I'm so honored and so taken aback! I want to give her a good, solid name - but I also want to give her a name of someone who's strong and independent as well as influential in all aspects of the definition. There are a few name bouncing around in my head. But one stood out: Kim. I like it and it seems like they'd be able to pronounce it alright.

So tomorrow marks my second day of running - really, my third, but I biked 50 km the second day. I hope my legs don't fall off. They're still sore - and my back hurts a lot.

I'm eating more though - so my body is telling me it's working and needs more food. I mustn't appease it. But I don't want to gain weight either. no. no. no.

... as I stuff my face with skittles.

Therefore, I am

09 Octobre 2010 : Samedi

I've found myself needing much more sleep lately - I don't know if that's the right word though: need; maybe it falls under the category of a want: I've been wanting much more sleep. Out of boredom? Out of escaping the heat? Out of avoidance? Out of loneliness? I don't really know. I do know my neighbor is washing dishes right now and that my ears feel clogged with liquid and my favorite puppy dog is sleeping not a foot from me. But he's not really sleeping, rather, he's resting with very cautious eyes. He's been hit and is always in a state of fright. So he's extra cautious around me - I try to be extra nice to him, use soothing tones when I speak around him and never make sudden movements and try to pet him gently on the head when he'll allow me. I also know that the children laugh at me. Everyday. All day. And I know it's not fun when they do that on days when I'm frustrated with language or just plain lonely.

One thing I think - I think I have to start learning and putting time into learning Mooré here. and I need a schedule I can stick to. Here goes nothing:

5:30 - 6:00 Run!
6:00 - 7:00 Bucket Bath
7:00 - 7:30 Breakfast
8:00 - 12:30 CSPS
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch / Repose / Nap
14:00 - 16:00 Mooré: Going out and talking in the village, at CSPS, with Agathe and then studying by myself
16:00 - 17:00 Repose / Write / Get water
17:00 - 18:00 Prepare Dinner
18:30 - 20:00 Eat
20:00 - 22:00 Read / Write / Sleep

Set on repeat.

Why can't I do that? Seems simple enough and the days I want to go to the school can substitute the time I would be at the CSPS.

Have You Ever Tried To Balance That Beam?

08 Octobre 2010: Vendredi: Malaria Pill Day

I've realized I haven't posted or written anything about my daily routine - or about the activities which occur frequently. Rather - I have been using my journal as an escape: a soundboard for all my frustrations, anxieties, excitement and things I would express to another English speaking person.

So: Here is a day in the life of moi. Set on Repeat.

4:00 Wake up sweating. Go back to sleep even though some of the women are beginning to wake up and start their day.

5:00 Again - Wake up sweating and to the sound of women walking about the courtyard. Sometimes they're cleaning dishes, pounding shea nuts, corn or peanuts. Ignore these noises. Must sleep.

6:30 Wake up. Get up (on most days). Unzip BugHut2, slip on flip flops, grab lantern and go inside house. Look around for dangerous insects (i.e. scorpions and spiders). Boil water for oatmeal. Read. Eat breakfast.

7:15 Take bucket back & get ready to go to the CSPS. Make sure to apply sunscreen. Fill water bottle with filtered & bleached water.

7:45 Leave house. Lock door. Green all the women in my compound in Gurunnsi. Walk to CSPS. Stop at least 4-5 times to greet other villagers on my way: either in Gurunnsi, Moore, or French. Mostly Moore. Alway shake hands. Always.

8:00 @ CSPS. Greet the major and other staff members (only 3). Greet patients, if any. Sit around watching consultations - small talk. On Thursdays there are baby-weighings. Usually a lot of women and possibly sensibilizations. Some days are vaccination days. And each month there are standard vaccine days.

12:00 Go home and repose! Fix lunch: usually left over dinner stored in my desert fridge. But on marché days (every third day) I wander around the little square of vendors deciding on what I want to buy, and if they have what I want. But always, always buy these galettes made out of shea butter and petit mil which resemble little fat pancakes. Mix this in with powdered milk and filtered water. Add lots and lots of sugar & voila! cereal-type lunch. yum.

15:30 Work out a bit. Lunges. Abs. Jump Rope. Push ups. etc.

16:30 Get water from the pump. Repeat [x] times: depending on how full my big trashcan is of water. Usually every three days I need to refill the trashcan completely which takes about 4-5 bidons.

17:30 Take bucket bath

18:00 Begin to prepare dinner - usually fideo! Sometimes with chicken (if I'm lucky enough for someone to give me one). But it all depends on what produce I have. Sometimes just a veggie soup. Sometimes just pasta. or tô with the pharmacist.

19:30 - 21:00 Eat dinner. Depends on the time it takes to prepare and fix.

20:00 - 22:00 Go to bed. BugHut2 outside. Bring a book, journal and letter writing material. Write, read, reflect until tired. Sleep. If no rain, sleep soundly. Otherwise: be woken up abruptly by thunder, wind, or rain and hurridly gather nalgene, lantern, journal, book, etc from tent and take inside. Then retreive BugHut2 and bring inside. Go back to sleep...sweating of course.

6:30 comes early.

You Have No Scars Upon Your Face

07 Octobre 2010

I. Just. Witnessed. Two Births. Back. To. Back.

The first was a little boy & the second was a strong girl. The woman who was lying in the maternity had the little baby boy, where as the woman who walked for who knows how long & just made it to the CSPS on time had the strong baby girl.

I was terribly frightening and intimidating to hear and see the first woman give birth. Hollering at every contraction. I don't blame her - no anesthetics, no medication, no numbing effect.

The nurse was out making a call out near our "rezou" tree (the only place people get reception in my village)... and the woman started giving birth! The head had already breached by the time she got into the room and put gloves on. *no, I was not in the room all alone with this laboring woman, there was a midwife... or maybe just an older woman who had seen lots of births and was "helping" *

So this makes my point that there doesn't seem to be that much involved in birthin' babies:

Push. Push. Make sure the baby's out. Clamp the cord. Cut the cord. Make sure the baby's breathing. Suck snot/liquid/amniotic fluid from baby's lungs. Weigh baby. Clean. Get afterbirth/placenta out of mama. Clean. Done.

Okay - I know there's more to it...but whatev. Give me 10 years and I'll be there.

By the time the first baby came out and the nurse was sucking out the crap from the mouth - the other woman began to go into labor (if she was not already in labor on her walk over to the CSPS). She was in the hallway of the maternity - the maternity consists of a lobby, "office"/consultation room, storage, birthing room, 2nd consultation room and a recovery room. Notice only one birthing room. So this woman silently laid down and as she was bending down the baby's head breached and that little sucker was coming out!! The midwife was right there, and the nurse practically dropped the other baby (on the cushioned table of course) to tend to the other woman!! Geez. It was intense and wonderful. I didn't want to be in the doctor's side of the birthing, but I had no choice when the woman in the hallway just laid it all down in front of me. Front row seats and I didn't even want or ask for them.

I will say the weirdest thing I saw was when the 2nd woman was all done giving birth and tended to the nurse went back to the baby boy and did a sort of chest thrust/CPR move because he wasn't screaming like the baby girl. I swear she was gonna break the baby's ribcage!! But I suppose everything is still very flexible at that time (more like cartilage than calcified bone) and it can take that kind of force. But it scared me! I guess she did the right thing because the baby started screaming like the girl - & the nurse looked satisfied.

Grossest thing ever: the placenta, afterbirth, sac in which the baby lives within gestation. It's not anything I'd ever seen before and definitely not what I expected to see. For all of you out there who are curious: read on. For those with weak-stomachs or just not interested in the subject: move on.

What it resembled: a huge, thick, dark jellyfish with one long long long tentacle which comes out of the woman's vagina!!!! This alien was dark in color - more than likely from all the blood, but it could vary with skin color? It was really slimy looking and weird. But of course - you can't have a baby without this alien-jellyfish. && the birthing process is not complete without birthing this sac. (Thank's MCAT guide!)

Alas - it was gross and blood was everywhere, along with "ca-ca" and the nurse was pushing on the woman's bellies to assist with the passing of the placenta. Gah.

I loved every minute of it.
Loved it.
And this makes me believe I'm destined for this.
Not exactly birthing babies: but being in that setting.

Blood. Gross Organs. Organs in General. Rubber Gloves.
White Coats.



06 Octobre 2010

Beak's 23rd Birthday was YESTERDAY!
Happy Belated Birthday!!


I've hit a low. It happened after I ate dinner - but I'm sure before then.

I was her love.
She was my Queen.
Thinking how it used to be.
Does she remember times like these?
To think of us again...
and I do.

I think because my head is filled with the future instead of the present: this is why I hit my low. I'm focusing on where I'll be in 2 years instead of 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months. My heart yearns to be there in the future - but my body is confined to the present. I must stay here. This is my home and it won't go any faster if I try to live with my physical body here but my heart and mind elsewhere.

Stop it.
You're here.
Put these feelings on hold.

23 More

Mercredi. 29 Septembre 2010

One month down.
Here's my escape route: 48 days vacation; 2 days a month

Janvier :|: IST, In-Service Training
Avril :|: Vacation with Lady Lover Vagabond, Ghana 5-7 days
Decembre :|: Bound for AmericaLand, Family & Friends 2-3 weeks

Mars :|: Fly Away to Meet my Beak, Barcelona, 2 weeks
Mai :|: Escape to Beach, 6 days

The last three months are [not recommended for travel] due to Peace Corps rules...Just like the first three months are void of travel. That is all circumstantial.


Dimanche. 26 Septembre 2010

Who would have thought I would begin to like, enjoy, consume, savor... ?
What?! Gross - but, it's okay. I've come to terms with the simple fact that when my pharmacist asks me to eat dinner with her, and she happily announces it will be tô, I don't shrivel away and try to wiggle out of dinner plans, instead, I accept with a really big, genuine smile.

I guess you could say I kinda like it.
But I will confirm this one, true fact: it all depends on the sauce.

Aside from this love of tô, and to fight the effects of that awful empty carb...I have started working out. Check!
  • 20+ lunges
  • 20+ sit ups
  • 15 push ups
  • 20+ crunches
  • 30sec. plank
  • 100+ jump rope
  • +50 on each leg
  • 50 calf raises
  • 20+ scissor kicks
  • 30sec. hold
My goal is to be able to do 30 push ups at one time and 100 sit-ups and 100 crunches at one time. I want to do a marathon in the hot season this upcoming year (2011). Don't know how to sign up or the exact length of the run - but I know I've got to start running again! My route to the main goudron is 7 km one way. Let's start there. I'm really excited.

Aside from all this excitement, and completely not related to the topics above (but very well could be in a very 'round the bush way): I need to find out what the biggest health issue is here.
Palu? Malnutrition? Upper Respiratory Infection?

I've got to talk to people.
In what language....?
good question.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Money Money Money

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Progress - what is this without work? Progress is simply not possible without struggle, relationships with people, hard work and, unfortunately, money.

Speaking of this phenomenon: I want to start saving money instead of spending it... I can't believe the amount of money I spent in the past six days. I can't believe it. Ouaga is to blame for the majority.... but wow - NO WAY!!! I could be exaggerating the amount [64.000 CFA] but I'd rather say I spent that much and not...than say I spent X amount and am now in the hole.

I only want to spend about 30.000 CFA per month.

I really think I can do it - and that would mean I can save money for travel.

Side note:
I introduced exercise to to my family compound today - they were simply awestruck when I started jump-roping. Then children started trying to peer into my house from outside my patio area. Oh the joy of achieving goal number 2... it's amazingly simple.

Gotta get up & run tomorrow AM

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Woke up and went inside expecting to find some more scorpions twitching on my floor - instead I opened my door and saw a huge spider run, or rather, scurry out of my house! I killed it with my broom faster than you could say "oh my gosh there's a spider!! Kill it!!"

But no scorpions.

I'm still pretty paranoid but I'm trying to keep my stress level down.

I biked out to two of my satellite villages today with one of the men from the village. I think it was about 16 - 18 KM and it took us way too long to get there because he's not a fast biker and we weren't on a paved road. I've decided I really need to ease out of my agitated, always on the go, busy state of mind...especially when I'm following someone on a dirt path. I was so frustrated when he would slow down or turn suddenly without warning. Granted - he could've communicated with me about where we were going... but I could've just calmed down.

Welp - I'm doing laundry bit by bit. I'll never let it pile up like this ever again. This is exhausting to wash and scrub laundry by hand. I give all those women from the "old days" who always did this and in large quantities for their family. Geez. This is gonna take me a couple of days to finish. Sheesh!!

Scorpions, Bats and Parasites: Oh My!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Where to start? Scorpions. Riding my bike at night through the bush. Having a pet bat named ligdi or muerte. Parasites revisiting. Talking to my mom. Hmmm....

Let's start from the beginning... Having my parasite come back from the dead. I thought it had resolved itself - my stomach cramps and diarrhea were gone last Friday or maybe Thursday, but low and behold, 3 or 4 days later it came out of it's dormitory state and apparently is really mad I ate muton (sheep) and other African dishes this Sunday and Monday. Ouch. When I got to Ouaga on Friday I'll talk to one of the PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officer). As I mentioned, my parasite is back and was quite unhappy when a fellow PCV came to visit me on Sunday. there was a huge funeral that day before she could make it to my village - a very important, well known Imam passed away and his funeral was in my village. There were so many people here I felt like I was in Ouaga when I got to the "center" of my village. I was insane - and I needed to shake hands with everyone - very intimidating and very tiring too! I saw 3, well, no... 2 1/2 nessaras (stranger, or white person) at the ceremony/gathering/fête and almost jumped out of my seat to go talk to them and hope they spoke English. Turns out they are Belgium and the live here. They've been here for about 2 years now - living in Ouaga, but working in another city in the south of the country. She and I talked for a bit - but she had to go since her husband and small son were leaving the next day - so we didn't get to talk much.

So! Monday, the PCV and I went to a city for the marché and I bought some more things for my little house and we had some awesome lunch! : Hummus-esque type sandwiches with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions and a vinaigrette. It was America in my mouth. Ashley came down to the city too later that day - so we all chatted and shared a beer and some muton. Damn you parasite!! Ashley caught me up on upcoming plans with the gang...and that left me leaving the city way too late! 18:00...that's 6:00pm for everyone who doesn't do military time. It gets dark by 18:30 and it takes me over an hour and a half to get back to village via BIKE! Geez. I hauled ass on my bike - really - I was riding so fast! Or, at least, as fast as I could and by the time I got home it was pitch black. I was accompanied by four men on their bikes throughout the journey though: one who was going to a small village on the way to my own village (about half the way to my village), then another man who was going to the village right on the corner of the main road and the dirt road to my village and then two guys on their way to my village who lit the way through the bush. I was really scary. I couldn't see anything and it was all so different looking at night. I second guessed the route so many times because I didn't know if it looked the same or not - but things always appear differently at night.

I get home - go the chez major to let him know I didn't die on my way home and to eat dinner with him and the other nurses and pharmacist. Went home, showered (took a bucket bath) and noticed a really big spider in my indoor douche area!! I got my HUGE can of Oro (insect killing spray) and went to town! Well, I noticed ants up in the doorway to my bedroom too - so I sprayed them. Then I saw it scurry under my "kitchen table." I thought it was a spider with something caught on it's butt from it's web...BUT IT WAS A SCORPION! I was so scared and killed it with my sandal. I swept it outside and showed/called over my neighbors. I was really shook up and asked to the best of my abilities if there would be more of them if I saw one. They assured me no and I should spray "pumpé" the insecticide and go to bed (at least I think that's what they said). I went to sleep outside in my bug hug... but then a storm came rolling in and I had to go inside. I slept inside my tent in my "one-size-fits-all room". Went to sleep pretty easily & woke up around 8:00 because I was so beat from all that biking. Got out of my tent and started looking around because I sprayed my whole house because I went to bed outside. Low and behold ANOTHER SCORPION: still twitching on it's back right next to my tent. I freaked out and then saw another one on the opposite side of the room - dark in color and really scary looking! (these things aren't small either! about the size of the palm of my hand). It was dead - and if it wasn't, the girl whom I got to come inside my house because I was on the verge of tears killed it when she came in. By the time three women were in my house I started crying because I was so stressed and scared. They tore apart my house - lifting my mats, my luggage, and whatever else was on the floor and made sure there weren't any more scorpions. They found just one more. FOUR SCORPIONS IN TOTAL! I don't like it one bit - I'm actually really spooked now and am paranoid there will be another one crawling around my feet or up the wall ready to prick me with it's venomous tail. So scary.

So today's been a weird day. Scorpions in the morning - along with lots of tears - then a newborn baby. I got to look over her at the CSPS for a little bit. It was so tiny! On the subject of the CSPS, I'm not sure how well the medical system is: I feel like it would be better if they were more vocal with the patients and were more organized. So after the baby, I called home. This was around 10:45 here, which is 5:45 at home. Mom picked up!! It was such a relief to talk to her - thought I didn't really get to spill my terror filled guts to her. But it was great. I miss her so much. Devon and Berto are visiting home in October!! I'm really glad everyone is doing well. Dad's working on the house to get it ready to be sold - he's on "vacation" but always working. Poor, poor daddy. Mom says she's gonna come visit me during her spring break which means April or March? I forget when that is... that would be next year - sounds good right now - I told her to buy a West Africa travel guide book thing. I think that'll help.

After I talked to her, I sat around the CSPS and then went back to my place just after midi. I ended up sweeping a bunch and being paranoid - but laid down and quickly fell asleep on the ground. I woke up and noticed something moving around where my tin roof meets the cement walls. I saw a furry face and tiny feet - okay, this could be either a mouse, rat, or a bat. I kept watching it as it was peering down to see what I was doing and noticed it's claw-like feet: BAT! Plus it's little face was all kinds of squished. I got worried and walked to the CSPS to tell them that I had seen a bat in my house to gauge their response - seems like it's not a big deal. They said that it faire rien (does nothing). Phew! But then they saw it and was gonna either kill it or terrorize it! I quickly stopped them and said it will eat lots of bugs. He shall stay and be my friend. I'm calling it either ligdi (money in Mooré) or muerté. He's really tiny and kinda cute - I woke him up from a nap and he yawned BIG! I want to feed him bananas because he started squeaking when I was eating one. Maybe he's a fruit bat? I don't know. But I think I'm okay with him in my house. I'd rather him than any number of bugs...especially scorpions!

MMMMmmm - I made yummy make-shift mac and cheese tonight with vache qui rit (laughing cow cheese) and powdered milk. I added green pepper, tomatoes, onions, chives and garlic - along with the essential salt and pepper with some chicken bouillon stuff. It was good! I saved the left-overs for lunch tomorrow and put the contents in my desert fridge. But alas - my parasite didn't like it one bit. He growled and made me think I was gonna throw up and crap all over the place just 10 minutes after I devoured my meal.

I ate a banana - I hope that helps.

Gotta get up at 5:00 tomorrow to be ready for traveling to one of my satellite villages. It's about a 16KM bike ride away - I leave at 7:00.