Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let's Re-Cap, Shall We?

Jeudi. 1 Juillet 2010

We spent two night in village with our host family and then stayed the night in Ouahigouya last night. This - of course - only pertains to the Health volunteers because we're the only ones who are in a village outside of the city Ouahigouya. The program is set-up like that so we'll have a more realistic idea of what village will be like at our site - rural - no electricity and no running water.

Alright - let's sum up the past few nights.

Village = Sissamba = 10K away from Ouahigouya = 6 miles bike ride to Ouahi & 6 miles back to Siss. My host family consisted of my mother: Marium and my father:_______ (1. I don't know how to spell it & 2. I don't really remember his name). They have 3 children -> two boys and a girl. I don't know if all of that is accurate - but that's what my dad told me. BUT! Don't think that's all there was... There were many women in my compound - a butt load of men and even more children. Donkeys. Goats. Cows. Chickens.

My first night was more than overwhelming (as you can tell from the last post) - it was exhausting - overwhelmingly hot and awkward. I get there and I'm pretty excited but then really realize the communication barrier is very thick and that my ability to speak French is not going to help if my mother can't speak French either.

So, I get there and I immediately have an audience of 30 children. My mother tells me to sit down and gives my my baby brother to play with - he's adorable, so I do. Then another baby is given to me - it's TINY - I ask how old it is, and the mother says 5 days. GEEZ. So itty bitty. I give it back and ask my mom where I take my shower. She gives me a bucket of boiled water and proceeds to show me where the shower area is. So - hot bucket bath - while being hot and then always being constantly concerned about someone walking "in on you" - it's more like someone peeking around the corner to find you bathing yourself... These things are no good and just added to the stress. My room is LITERALLY at least a constant 95 degrees F and stays that way all night long. So the first night was a nightmare because - as many people know about me - I like to keep my room cooler at night when I sleep - and now it was impossible to even think of it being cooler. I pretty much laid in bed staring at my mosquito net and contemplating my time here in Africa. It was tough.

My second night was a lot better - I actually talked to my family. My mom and dad and some other members of the compound were friendly and patient enough to talk to me. I used the CORRECT cup for my bucket bath - ha - that's from the 1st night - I couldn't find the right cup to bathe with - so I walked into my courtyard and found a cup, took it to my douche area and used it to rinse myself off and whatnot. Well - when my mom was cooking dinner - she started looking around for something to scoop out the food... ohhhh... that's what that was for. :\ I appologized and felt so stupid! Really embarrassed! and I told her I used it - she just laughed at me. Later I found that the cup was in this HUGE metal trunk. This trunk also had my lantern - my mom saw me struggling to get my stuff unpacked in my dark room...and to really just function... and so she told me to come with her and she got my lantern out of my trunk too. Yay for not knowing how to survive in a new place by myself!

So YES! Second night was "amazing" in comparison to my first - with the exception of sleeping! I still couldn't sleep well at all. but I did try to tell my parents I would sleep outside - but that I needed a mosquito net while I slept - but they didn't think to help me...so I gave up on that idea. Yet - around 21:30 or 22:00, my father knocks on my screen door and has a metal frame in my courtyard - this is without saying that it was a night full of lightning and clouds thinking of opening up and raining. So I was trying to tell them that I didn't want to get struck by lightning because the metal bedframe...I tried pointing to the lightning and making noises and acting like I was afraid - but my dad just kept on saying I was afraid of the rain - which was inaccurate. They really just laughed at me and I ended up sleeping in my dutch-oven of a room again - and didn't really sleep at all.

Bike Ride - OHHH bike ride - it was difficult riding out to site the first time - BUT I know it would've been better if we didn't stop 4 times and if I weren't wearing a skirt that kept on getting stuck to my breaks... some weird attraction between my break pads and my blue and white skirt. weird. It was terrible. But I literally thought I was going to puke at least 5 times, but I never did - and so I just felt terrible and had zero relief. But - this was the ride TO Sissamba... The ride to Ouahigouya was amazing. Took us just about thirty minutes and all me and Ashley discussed was what foods we were craving at every moment:

Strawberries. Blackberries. Raspberries. Homemade Whipped Cream. Veggies: Artichokes. Asparagus. Squash & Zuccinni. Celery & PB.

Oh so many foods we were missing and my mouth is now salivating profusely!! Sushi was a mutual desire and we both discussed how we'd love to go to China and Japan for the next three weeks due to food & men. ;]

So, this long entry brings me to a US Embassy message directed towards Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso. There's been a threat against a unidentified individual. Who they think the threat is from: Al Quiada and then a bunch of acronyms. We were given this message of a threat yesterday afternoon during our "community meeting" session. Health volunteers were told that they'd be escorted to their village to college all their things and come back to Ouahigouya and stay at a hotel with all the other PCTs and PCVs affected by the threat. This threat means we're unable to continue with staging in Ouahigouya. We're in a state of Standfast until Monday, 5 July. On Monday - we'll start training again and will continue for at least two weeks. Everyone is really frustrated - but calm. We're all keeping things in perspective and trying to be flexible. None of us thought any of this would happen - and I didn't think it would happen so early. Things look hopeful - as in - training will continue and the threat is not rooted in Burkina Faso. I just hope we can still continue with the language and keep the benefits of the host family without being with a new one. I'm not saying I don't want to be with a new host family - I just know all the logistics and hard work and preparation it takes to host 79 volunteers...and I don't know if we have that time.

But - Alas! we are now in a safe place! We are at a hotel around the city - but outside of the hustle-bustle nightlife area. We'll be continuing classes and sessions at the ISO across the way and having a Forth of July party together on Sunday. All is well.

To continue with the night:

We've had a bunch of really good talks with some of the fellow HE volunteers and it's interesting to know that PCVs attempt relationships here, dating each other and even the Burkinabe. The converstaion was a bit short - and too vague - but interesting non-the-less. Learned there's a PCT here that's a few weeks younger than me - which is crazy in my mind. And talked about ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and current relationships from back home. More details to come. I'm still going to stay away from getting any feelings: oh you're interesting, physical attraction, etc. It just seems pointless, sticky and distracting.

I do hope my American Red Cross care package comes in sooner than later! ;]

1 comment:

  1. you should try tying your skirt/dress up over the leg that your gears are on... i usually just take two opposite ends and tie them around my mid thigh and them im good to ride. i dont know if it'll help ya, but it might?! :)