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.

No Blood, But Plenty of Sweat & Tears

Saturday, 11 September 2010


I never recalled seeing the moon rise and fall within such a short period of time. I saw it early evening - shining proud, high above the world below and next to the northern star. But after a short while, I looked up expectantly and was immediately taken-aback for I did not see the slither of the moon, but an empty space where it should have been. Instead of soaring with great glee and confidence, I searched and I found it: hiding behind the tall Mango-less trees, bashful and ashamed for the color it bared was a glowing rouge. Why is she so embarrassed now? Maybe her companions, the stars, were suddenly struck with ferocious confidence and overruled the night's ruler. Impeached for the time-being. She only peaks her head over the this leaves of the fruitless tree and tries to watch over her night.

I finished a 649 page book in 5 days. Pretty good if you ask me. The Poisonwood Bible: I like it and will have to own it once I get back to the States - or I'll buy a new one and give it to who lent me this one. It got a wee bit torn up due to the rain and a 27KM bike ride combined. But continuing my praise of the novel: it is beautifully written - eerily familiar and holds wonderful perspective on both religion and integration. I don't see it as bashing mission trips, but rather, putting into perspective how a culture is changed and how it can change whoever steps in without open eyes. It will probably be read a few more times while I'm here in West Africa.

Speaking of integration, after pulling my nose out of that novel I stepped out of my house and saw a huge gathering at my neighbors courtyard. I walked over and was immediately put to work! With women gathered around kettles of hot palm oil and gallons of moist, ready-to-cook dough...I was put in charge of making gateaux -->Yummy fried pieces of bread sold on marché day. Well - at least one of the large kettles was under my supervision. I sat on a miniature wooden bench (perfect for a three year old, but commonly use by all ages here: regardless of age, height or weight) in front of me was the large "kettle-wok" full of lava hot palm oil sat upon a large, cylindrical metal contraption with a blazing fire that was carnivorously consuming the freshly chopped wood from this afternoon. Beside me was a large woman with few words and a head wrapped of shiny, bright orange scarf, fixed with a bow right on top. She too was supervising a vat full of gooey dough. Together we sweat over the open flames. My eyes were burning from all the smoke rising and finding it's way into my tear ducts. But though blood was the only element missing - we successfully prepared enough gateaux to feed the village. I was rewarded with a good heaping of sugar and six large pieces of the fried dough. I was shocked and then my neighbors simply laughed when I told them "pas possible pour moi finir ça." I don't think that's correct Français - but that's what came out of my mouth and went into their ears and from their bellies came laughter. I took my prize and started to prepare my own dinner: soup des legumes. 3 onions, 2 poivrons, 1/2 aubergine, 1/2 head of cabbage, 3 tomates, 1/4 bundle of green onions, 2 cloves of garlic. YUM! I gave half of what I made to my neighbors due to the fact that I was unable to finish what I prepared for myself and because they are REALLY kind to me. But mostly because I can't fathom how to fix a meal just for me. I can't seem to understand that concept. It is an impossible feat and I shall overcome this by the time my service is up in 2012. That's plenty of time, eh?

Bon nuit. C'est le bonne temp me repose pour le soir. Avec le musique de le musilum prayer* et le discutations de mes voisens - c'est bon nuit. À demain.

Yovas Llehctim Nerual

07 September 2010 - Later that day

I've been down in the slums today - can't put my finger on it. I'm more and more frustrated by the language; I think it's mostly because I can't seem to find someone who doesn't seem condescending when they talk to me. I'm taken for a child here. Yes, I know, I'm young. I don't have a husband. I have no children. I have not borne any children. I am a woman. I am at the bottom of the totem pole. But, dear people of my lovely village, that doesn't mean I'm incapable of learning the language without one talking down to me. I think that - a mix of homesickness & my period finally showing it's embarrassed face - that's why I've been down today. I'm sticking my nose in books when I should be out in the community learning their language and from there I can properly obtain the information required for a needs assessment.

Speaking of being homesick: I didn't make it any better when I ate instant mashed potatoes for dinner tonight. Made me wish I were home with Mom & Dad, Devon, Berto and Bean would be there too! Even Gabby and Cash Man, & Lucy would be outside shinning her bright eyes into the living room. I sure do miss my family - being away makes me so much more appreciative and grateful of all the goodness that pours out of my family. My Family. No one else can know how wonderful it is to say that. They, I now know, mean more to me than ever. I just wish it were more feasable to travel and get this itch to receed when still being able to be close to them. More and more I feel my heart being tugged towards home: Texas. No - I really don't want to live there, but that's where my family is. How I wish they'd uproot and move to a more pleasurable locale! East, West, North - anywhere but the south... unless we talk about extreme south and out of the States. Then I'd be more than willing to set down my roots. I would definitely settle for some Argentinian steak and some Brazilian man. But, then why am I still very much attracted to light brown hair and blue, stark blue, ocean blue eyes? Let me move to Europe and get my fix.

Golly gee - I'm reading "The Poisonwood Bible" and I'm 100+ pages in (one day, woot!) and the family who traveled to Africa for some crazed Baptist missionary in the Congo is from Georgia. The book depicts sayings: southern in nature: and I've quickly recognized many phrases and words.

"man oh man"
"hush up"

and many, many more & I'm sure many more to come. It's a little strange to be reading this book while here in West Africa. Many of the descriptions of the Congolese are very similar, if not right on the spot, to the Burkinabe. It's easy. I am quite fond of the character Adah. She's a twin, the disfigured of the two, and lives as a mute but is extraordinarily deep and wise beyond her years. She speaks of her family and how they are rejecting's quite interesting. I love how she writes/thinks and am intrigued to know how she has grown or shrank at the end of the novel. I really like Ruth May too - I enjoy her honesty, but greatly despise her arrogance and southern roots. Their father - the Baptist Reverend - irks me in ways that physically make me grit my teeth and skwirm.

"Sending a girl to college is like pouring water in your shoes," he [the Reverend] still loves to say, as often as possible. "It's hard to say which is worse, seeing it run out and waste the water, or seeing it hold in and wreck the shoes."

WOW! I'm shaking my head back and forth, back and forth right now... in utter disbelief. I will say this is based in 1959... but still! I'm completely disgusted.

- Adah Ellen Price :: Ecirp Nelle Hada

I'm sweating and wondering how long my neighbors are going to keep their extremely loud music on. I did hear two English songs - so that's a little exciting. I should be going to bed. I want to start getting up earlier than 7:30... I'm trying for 6:00 as a natural time to get up. Maybe 5:30. I would need to go to bed earlier then. We'll see. I've got two years to work this out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Night Skies

Tuesday, 07 Septembre 2010

I woke up cold and uncomfortable.

Its a hazy, overcast morning with a heavy dew and, always, crying babies. I went to sleep thinking about how vast the night sky is here - how infinite and open. I've never seen so many stars and doubt I'll ever be able to once I leave this country. Yet, the people here don't seem phased at all by the sky - by the incredible amount of stars - up in the sky - pockets of gas always fading but never seizing to resist it's imminent fate. Not waiting, but always fighting and brightly shining until it bursts. There are many more stars than I would've dreamt. I was dizzied by their numbers. Almost felt as if my world down here was spinning wildly beneath such a calm sky. Content in it's fate. Content and very simple, unlike the world below. This world we are always fighting the elements and struggling against the simple flow of life. We are never simply content...always in need of expansion, change, invention and upgrades. But yet, the world we live on has been here far longer than we. And that is the the same for the happy sky above us. We should look up and learn from the glimmering stars: those pockets of gas burning. Yet, when you see the burning, you'd realize their fighting personnas are what gives them life. But also takes that life away when the time sees fit. Oh time. Time has it's own accord, it's own agenda. She is one element you can count on, and yet - she's selfish and can mislead you.

I woke up this morning.
But, seemingly, content.

Happy Father's Day Daddy-e-o!

Sunday, 05 Septembre 2010

You've successfully been a pops for a long time and you've done such a wonderful job! You sacrificed sleep to be there for all of our important games and recitals. You always supported us in every way you were able to. You disciplined us even when we butt heads. You always made us feel better when we were down. You are the BEST DAD anyone could ask or wish for. Thanks a million - words cannot explain or even begin to display the amount of gratitude I feel for you. I am so grateful to have such a strong, intelligent, disciplined, creative, determined, successful, funny, down-to-earth, R.O.S.S., supportive man to call my father. You are the best. Thanks! I love and miss you terribly - can't wait to see and talk to you again from across the world... your most favorite daughter -


I miss my dad a lot. I wish I had the capability to see him whenever I wanted. I miss having him around to make me laugh when I want to cry. I want to be able to call him and tell him about all the crazy things I've encountered here in Burkina. I want him to see my house - and help me fix it up. I wish he could be here to see all my neighbors and be just as confused as I am when they speak to me in these foreign tongues. I wish I could get in his car and ride around with the top down. I wish I could ask him to get me a glass of milk when he would get up for seconds at dinner time. I want to scold him for his bad habits of smoking again. I want him to cook gumbo and spaghetti for me. I want him to be outside sweating profusely so I can bring him a big glass of ice water. I want to be able to hug him when I miss him like this.

Moosh! I Love You!

Saturday: 04 Septembre 2010

Been in village for 6 jours and I'm still really overwhelmed…but it doesn't seem too bad anymore.
I need to do the following:
  1. Find a Tutor
  2. Organize House
  3. Buy Things for House
  4. Paint
  5. Find all PC material
  6. Make a Map of my Village
  7. Make a list of People Met
  8. Figure out the CSPS/Aire Sanitaire
  10. Figure out if I have a Parasite
Good. That's a good start.

Last night was really fun. Rob came down to my village - rather, we: me, Rob and his friend Josh rode our bikes down from Sapouy yesterday morning and Josh left early due to the fact that his bike broke while riding on the terrible dirt road that connects my village to the main goudron (major cement road)... the rain that produced the mud was not helping the situation or the fact that we were all so very tired after the 20+ KM bike ride to the dirt road. Did I mention it's a terrible, terrible path. And during this bike ride, I fell into this feces-infested, mud hole, swamp of all things gross. I blame karma. Rob went one way - and I went the other, told him he went the wrong way and that he was definitely going to fall...and then I lost balance, slipped - put my foot down into the muddy swamp, foot slipped, and thus I fell over...straight into the pit of grossness. Rob called me a swamp ass. I got up after a good laugh - and we were on our way - by that time, the rain had started once again. We were soaked, I was injured. Damn battle wounds. By the time we made it back to my house I found other injuries...

So what made the night so great? Dave Matthews, Fergie and great food. I made fideo!!! It was amazing. Was just missing pinto beans. Ashley - you would be proud. And he moosh-cat came around and I fed it chicken while I confessed my love of it. Rob made fun of me - says I'm weird cause I talk to animals, plants and food... that's normal, is it not? Well, I fed Mortamore (the moosh-cat) and I said I loved it every time it ate a piece of chicken. He loved it because he came back for more tonight! I made more fideo and added some veggies and more chicken. Yum.

It was fabulous and I shared it with my neighbors. They all fought over it cause they liked it so much! At first they were very skeptical, but the kids began to eat it, and the women all laughed when I asked how it was. They just nodded (the kids) and then I said...come try this, I'm a good cook!! And the women all came running - the fideo was gone in less than 5 minutes. Talk about a hit! I'm really happy they didn't spit it out. That would have made me sad.

Welp - aside from all that: I'm really missing my family ad friends. I miss being able to talk to my mom and dad whenever I want. And I miss being able to drive down to see Ashley - I miss that comfort. I'm not saying I need it - but my heart sure does desire it, and misses it so. It's funny, I'm not homesick, but rather upset I can't hear the people that mean the most to me. I miss my beak and really wonder if I miss him because that's comfortable or if I really really miss him. Maybe I'm just being needy - but why not miss the ex then? Hmm - tricky, eh?

Well - it's time for bed. It's almost 22:00 - and I want to wake up with the sun tomorrow. We'll see if that happens.

I hope it doesn't rain tonight.
I'm loving my BugHut 2

Chef du Village

Mardi: 31 Août 2010

People I've met:
Chef du Peuhl (Issa)
Chef du Village
Le Pastor

This morning the rain was pouring so I didn't leave for the CSPS (the health center where I work) until after 8:40 - I was supposed to meet my major (the head cheese at the CSPS, a nurse) at 8:00 so we could leave to meet the chefs today. There are four chefs of this village, one for each ethnic group: Peuhl, Gourunsi, & Mossi and one who oversees all: Chef du Village.

I swear, my major thinks I'm scared of everything. He views me as a very weak girl. Great. :\ We crossed two "rivers" today - these rivers were produced by the massive amount of rain that fell last night and this morning. Good thing I brought my rain boots from Washington!! Otherwise, I would have cold, wrinkly feet and probably some parasite by now. So, to elaborate on this river we crossed: I'd have to start by saying the major wanted to ride bikes because we were going a long ways away to meet these important people. I said that was not necessary and that I really like to walk. So we get started on our voyage. We trek about two miles overall (not bad). Through trees and over rivers (if you will). It was great! So beautiful - and I'm really glad to know how to get out of the "hustle and bustle" of his village now. But dear lord! The major was so scared and concerned for my well being. He swore I would be washed away by this "raging river" we crossed. C'mon now. It was just water rushing down a small slope from excess rain. I've been crossing deep ditches, rivers and creeks since I was a wee little one! Pas de problem. At one point he grabbed my arm and said WAIT! STOP! NO!! and began to try to convince me to get on the other man's back as he crossed the river. What?! NO!! Eventually we crossed the river, after my persistence and showing them I would be fine!

Overall - it was a good morning. We met the Chef du Peuhl (Issa!) and he gave me two chickens and a good handful of corn! Yum. His wife is crazy (literally a feu) and blind - I shook her hand and scared her youngest son... on accident... But I did, at least I hope, change a little boys perspective on les blancs! I shook his hand after he was all sorts of scared, shedding tears and being very weary of where I was in accordance to him; so I shook his hand and he calmed down after I said "yaa soma" which means ça va which means it's okay, it's good... and I spoke to him in a wee bit of Mooré and French. It felt really good.

After we left we started walking more and more and came across some AMAZING rock formations! Beautiful. I wish I had my camera with me so you could glance at these 4x5s that could never really and accurately depict the beauty I saw this morning. But I do have two full years for all that.

Side note.

I've decided it's really difficult to speak in broken French (as I do) to someone who is also new or not well versed in the language. Really difficult. I think I'll really start learning Mooré soon. It's impossible to do anything without it here. I wish we would have spoken or had more Mooré classes during training. The staff should have emphasized it more.

Time for a nap.

How to Properly Greet an Elder

Bend at the waist at a 45º angle
Hold your arm right under your elbow (towards your hand)
Keep eyes averted from subject
Bend your knees to get lower than whom you're shaking hands with
Shake hands
Always answer in a positive response (laafi, or coa-cwah)
Bring your hand up to your heart after the encounter
Follow his/her moves


Symphony of Rain, Among Other Things

Sunday, 29 Août 2010

Je sauit (spelling is wrong, it means wish) que tu prends ecouter å le pluie maintanent - c'est très belle.

Not sure if I said (wrote, rather) any of that correctly, but I wanted to say the following: I wish that you could/be able to hear/listen to the rain now - it's beautiful.

This is my first night at site and wow I don't even know what to say about it. Ma maison seemed wonderful until I started killing a good percentage more than 20 scary, big, long-legged, slick spiders. I'm not exaggerating either. I would much rather be sleeping outside on my "porch," or "private, fenced-in courtyard (lies)" :: which really is a slab of concrete with a concrete/mud concoction mix wall that is anything but private. But, alas, the rain is impeding that wish, more of a desire, but even more of a need. So, or donc (that's bien Français), I'm currently laying on my lipit-cot, which is more like a lounge chair I would sunbathe on during the summer months back at home, but a cot, none-the-less, with my headlamp on and persistently, consistently, non-negotiably sweating. Tell me if you can grasp this: it's rainy season, it's not supposed to be hot. I'm also from a state that should have prepared, if ever one could be so for this country, for the heat & humidity of the central southern region of Burkina Faso. I guess my conclusion would be: I need more windows in this damn place! Is that possible? Will my mud-brick, cement walls come crashing down? I hope it is possible - without the crumbling of walls - because the fact of the matter is I have two windows in this concrete oven with a tin-metal roof...and these windows do not allow proper ventilation, at least, this is my argument. That small bit of information leads to the conclusion of my always-stuffy, never-breezy house needing two LARGE windows: one in the room which I have dubbed the spider room (i.e. my bedroom) and one in the "one-size-fits-all" room which is everything outside of the bedroom, room.

What else? My walls are cracking and there's a weird paint (I bet voodoo) paintings of guns and churches, random phone numbers and a possible transformer on my walls. I don't have any service (resou (spelling?)) for my phone and I don't really have a way to charge it anyway. But of course, if I choose to complain through this entire entry - then I mustn't omit the fact that my latrine is filled with stagnant water due to the massive amount of rain that pours down upon us and the inability to plug up the cement box of doom I call a latrine. This provides a nice, dark, mostly quiet place for mosquitos to breed, multiply and quickly fly out into the vast unknown world of my village only to infect the people with palu (that's malaria, folks). But to add to this disaster: the two cement brick walls that should overlap so that you cannot see into the latrine while in use do not overlap. That, my good friends and few followers, means you can see straight into the place in which I do my dirty business - where my parasites win all the battles, and I fight off mosquitos and flies. I'm talking: you can see the person sitting across the courtyard of the family compound when you're inside & vice versa. That's a problem, no?

My house shall be repaired - I just have to gather the words to ask about it. And while they fix my latrine - I think I'd love it if they went ahead and just built me an outdoor douche area. I hate mine. It's dark, and doesn't drain properly and that leads me to believe it too will become a breeding ground for mosquitos which equals more palu. I'm not for that at all.

Speaking of privacy - I have none. I'm kind of wishing I requested a stand-alone house... I don't have a fenced in area like they wrote in the description of my village. I'm surrounded by men. Where are the women? It was actually really intimidating to be here by myself and no women around - it makes me feel a wee bit unsafe? Damn.

Oh - the rain has stopped. I notice a few places that need to be repaired in here too: my roof is leaking.

This is my new home.
My new house for two whole years.
I better enjoy this village.

Good news: I found a cat tonight!!