Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bike Tour: 23 day Photo Reel

First of all, I am full heartily apologetic that I have neglected this blog. I know I have a small following (though I'm not sure how frequent you all come here now-a-days due to my lax mindset) but a following is a following and I need to take that into consideration, right?! Right.

So here are 23+ photos from our 23 day bike tour we cycled our asses off during the entire month of September. We completed over 1,850 km over the course of 23 days (including two rest days each a week apart). It was one of the hardest things I've done in country but also I am so glad I decided to participate in the entire tour and COMPLETED it. :]

*Note: The distances posted are the projected distances, many times they were 10-15 km longer but some days the gods of google gave us a few km off

Day 0: Karfigula!
We (Kelsey from AMERICALAND, Rob and I) were on top of one of the few tourist-y spots here in Burkina Faso, the cascades! No swimming for us due to Schistosomiasis... look it up, it's something you don't want. Tomorrow's our first day of biking.

Day 1: Karfigula - Orodara :: 65 Kilometers
Bike Glove Club: Missing a few key players (Jon, Anne, myself, Rob and Chris)
We're clean, excited and don't quite know how over our heads we are at this time...

Day 2: Orodara - Bobo Dialasso :: 80 Kilometers
We're in the South West region of the country where hills and valleys plague the roadways. I'm sure this is me exhausted and just wanting to show the world how much my legs are working. A picture doesn't do it justice...

Day 3: Bobo - Bereba :: 102 Kilometers...
This is the day Google Maps decided to lie to us all and add on about 30 kilometers. We (Rob and I) got lost on the way to Bereba (Ali's site) and ended up having to call the car due to the fact we road out 20 km, then had to ride 20 km back to where we took a wrong turn. Needless to say, it was a long long long day.

Day 4: Bereba - Dedougou :: 119 Kilometers
Photo Credit: Sara
I was officially in the back doing my thing. This is the front of the group (Chris, Jon, Rob and Ali) leading us to Daniel Doval's site in the big city of Dedougou.

Day 5: Dedougou - Tenado :: 106 Kilometers
All dirt roads today but according to Jon and Daniel that's just fine. I had stopped to take a break a the fork in the road and these two were only about 2 minutes behind me... Dani showed up shortly after that. After stopping in Tchiriba (spelling is completely wrong, sorry) and buying my oh so special fat man, Rasheda and I biked at a very leisurely pace to Tenado.

Day 6: Tenado - Koudougou :: 45 Kilometers
Dusty dusty sandy hot roads. Ew. One of our few short days... We made a stop in Reo to make some Neem Cream (anti-mosquito cream) with Lindsay's association. Met some Brits and all was well in the world.

Day 7: REST

Day 8: Koudougou - Latodin :: 100 Kilometers
Perks of leaving at 5:30 in the AM... beautiful sunrise ALWAYS.
Downside... getting up at 4:30, and packing the car at 5:00

Day 9: Latodin - Bissiguin :: 106 Kilometers
Stopped on the side of the road and found these kids with Chev. She asks if I want to take a picture of them... I say, "no, not really" and then I pull my camera out. I make sense.

Day 10: Bissiguin - Koussouko :: 65 Kilometers
Dance parties are always necessary with my life partner, Chev. This was either Wiz Khalifa, Tupac or Rhianna. Yea, you're jealous.

Annnd Rob's bike is more than half my size. My hand points to where his seat hits my waist. I don't understand how tall he is. He later took my bike a rode around. He looked ridiculous.

Day 11: Koussouko - Sabce :: 48 Kilometers
My two favorite people in this country. The last 4 km to Sabce were a bitch: rocky, sandy paths up and down (mostly up) hills. Not fun. Not fun at all.

Good news, got to show off my fat man (and friends) in order to repackage him to go off to Ouaga where he waited for me 'til the tour was finished.

Day 12: Sabce - Kaya :: 65 Kilometers
Pavement for a few handfuls of kilometers and then dirt road from there... and water? This is how all the bike tour participants caught schistosomiasis. Just kidding, mom (and country director)... but no, really. We rode through lots of water!!

Day 13: Sabce - Boulsa :: 78 Kilometers
Another medium sized day. Chev and I took a good amount of breaks this day for dance parties and photo ops. This is her being quite deranged due to the fact that our driver hadn't checked up on us in quite a while and our water was so LOW! Contemplating using this dirty rain/excrement/onion watering water...

Day 14: Boulsa - Bilanga Yanga :: 80 Kilometers
More water that we crossed over... I literally believed I would be washed away as I was biking through the overflow from the dam. This is us celebrating our survival.

Day 15: Bilanga Yanga - Fada :: 70 Kilometers...
The projected kilometers would have been correct if we had been able to take the direct route from Bilanga to Koupela and off to Fada... but instead we had to go this absurdly long way due to construction on a dam or road or lake. Anyway - the road was flooded into a oceanic lake. We ended up riding 134km that day.

Needless to say our day off was much needed.

Along with sleeping in a bit, we were privileged to participate in a mostly Burkinabé run fair which was set up by the three musketeers in Fada: Joey, Louis and Scott. They're real troopers setting this thing up.

ps. Rob is a creeper

Day 17: Fada - Nakaba :: 83 Kilometers
This is the infamous day Hilary learned how to ride her bike without hands through my persistent coaching and encouragement. Good job Hil!! You're doing it, you're doing it!

Day 18: Nakaba - Tenkodogou :: 80 Kilometers
Good ol' drafting mentality finally came into play this day. We had lines and lines of us just drafting off of one another. Great most of the time, bad when people follow a little too closely and then eat pavement. Ouch!

Day 19: Tenkodogou - Beka :: 108 Kilometers
I was really excited about visiting Beka (for my second time!) and seeing how Josh and Ashley have survived their first (many) months of marriage life and living together. The village had lots of music and dancing when we arrived and (of course) Ashley fed us oh so well when we got to their place.

This was our escort to Beka... huge guns are always necessary?

Day 20: Beka - Po :: 82 Kilometers
Another VERY early morning. I especially love this photo. Everyone is working by headlamp, flashlight or by your phone light. Bike maintenance and packing the support vehicle.

Day 21: Po - Leo :: 124 Kilometers
This was the second longest day of the tour... and to make things even more intense it was ALL (except for maybe 20km) on dirt roads. We left Po and went into Nezinga Park and hoped to spot some elephants (no luck) and went out towards Sourou via the Diallo - Po road and cut away from Sourou to get to the main road and down to Leo we went. Bright side of things: Rob and I found this guy in the middle of the road and got distracted for about 7-10 minutes! He then decided to hiss and attack my head due to the fact that Rob tried to take him off my sleeve... it was, perhaps, the most frightening moment of my life.

Day 22: Leo - Gallo :: 80 Kilometers
Chev's house has a major mouse problem which just got worse... her evil mice (who eat EVERYTHING: even fake grapes and then die on the floor only to be found a couple weeks later, ew) had babies!! I found one. Rob and I named him Fifel. No, I didn't eat him. We let him go to nature... he was probably a great meal for a large bird or cat.

Day 23: Gallo - Ouaga :: 80 Kilometers
Photo Credit: Scott
Well guys. We made it. It was great sunny weather all throughout the tour except for our last day heading into Ouaga... around 8AM it started to down pour and didn't stop until we got into Ouaga around noon. This is a picture of *most* of the riders throughout the tour. Yellow is for all the permanent riders and the red or green and white shirts are for people who joined us.

I hope you all enjoyed this. I am sorry I took so long to put this up. I've been thinking about posting it for a while but I've been busy with all kinds of other things that I'll go into when I write my next post... which might be tomorrow! :]

Saturday, August 27, 2011



These guys have been spotted on numerous occasions while biking out on brousse (out in the bush/woods). Every time I see them they are in this humongous swarm; all moving as one, all crawling on top of each other, all together. Haven't seen them anywhere else in the country... but I'm sure they're out there - lurking and overflowing with swarminess...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Measuring Success

I hope everyone remembers what kind of projects I mentioned in my last update and how I was sure these things would be completed within the short time frame of being home (aw. at site)...

So, I put my foot down and was determined to start, conquer and finish an accelerated HEARTH model: a workshop for mothers with moderately malnourished babies between the ages of 6 - 9 months which lasts for five to seven days meeting each morning to make enriched porridge and discuss certain
health related topics. phew!

I talked with my wonderful counterpart Allisone to get the ball moving and we decided to work with five women for seven days (we ended up working with four of the five women due to the fact that on the day of the baseline we found out one of the woman's baby was five months and couldn't participate in the program). These women all had babies between six and nine months of age. We started on a Friday (really, I suppose technically we started on the Thursday to obtain the baseline and weigh the babies) and continued until the following Thursday.

First two days: Nutrition; the three food groups (enérgetique, constructeur & protecteur), how to use them and why. We played a game to gage the women's comprehension of the lesson... it was fun. Then we talked about malnutrition and the two types prevalent here in Burkina Faso (Marasmus and Kwashiokor)

Next thing I know the women trick me into letting them off for a day (for church, of course, pff) and then they end up not showing up for two more consecutive days. Boo. The first morning after church I went to the maternity and waited there for about an hour until I finally went to their individual houses to see if they were there or not. Well, they were. I found Martine just making some tô for her family and when I asked what she was doing and why she hadn't come to the session she said "oh, we can just do it tomorrow right?" blargh. No! I found the other three women doing the same thing and I told all of them I'd be waiting for them at the maternity... they didn't show. The same event occurred the following day and as soon as I was about to call it quits the fourth day they all showed up... well, three women showed (hey, it's better than NONE!)

Fourth day: Family Planning; why it's necessary to take time off in-between birthing children, contraceptive options in Sourou (Depo Provera, male condoms and birth control pills), how to properly use a condom (all seven steps).

Fifth day rolls around and I'm pretty content on just having a five day formation now... it's better than nothing and it's at least something that I can work off when I get back from the tour. I wait at the maternity with high hopes of the women showing up on time, being interested in the discussion of family planning and making enriched porridge again...

an hour passes...

No one shows up. Take a breath. Okay. I guess they don't want to show up again. I'll come back again tomorrow - I won't give up on the workshop. The next day rolls around and the same thing happens and I'm completely deflated. One more day left and I ask myself if it's even worth staying in village to wait it out or just to go up to Ouaga or another village to help out another volunteer. I decide to stay.

New plans. I'll plant my mango trees (I bought three of them: one for the CSPS, one for the school and one for my family). I go to the CSPS Friday morning and plant the tree with Allisone. I also waited for the women to show up (I really wasn't expecting them to... but you never know)... they never did. So. Three disconnected days of a HEARTH workshop and one day of planting trees.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Okay, Now an Update

Here's an itty bitty update.

I went back to site two days ago for the first time in quite a while. It was amazing to be back. Everyone was extremely excited to see me; they all teased me about being gone for so long and, of course, asked me if I brought something back for them, but to my surprise it was all very nice. One of my moms helped me sweep out my dusty house (so nice!), the CSPS staff was genuine and listened to my future project plans (surprise), the marche ladies were ecstatic to have me back (and buy their food) and my favorite mom scolded me while shaking her finger and counting the weeks I've been gone, but immediately afterwards went through the whole spcheel of salutations.

I'm doing an accelerated HEARTH model starting Friday. It will be a week long formation with five women and their malnourished babies (between the ages of 7 - 10.5 months). We will meet each morning for an hour and a half to make enriched porridge and go over certain health topics: the lesson plan will break down as follows...

Thursday: Record Weight of Babies
Friday: Pre-Test, Nutrition. Lesson on Nutrition
Saturday: Lesson on Nutrition. Post-Test
Sunday: Pre-Test, Family Planning. Lesson on FP
Monday: Lesson on FP. Post-Test
Tuesday: Pre-Test, Malaria. Lesson on Malaria
Wednesday: Lesson on Malaria. Post-Test
Thursday: Final Test. Each woman will present something they learned over the past six days. Record weight of babies.

I'm really excited!!

I'll also be :

making some anti-mosquito cream with a group in a satellite village using natural, reusable ingredients.

teaching women how to make liquid soap

planting nine moringa trees and three mango trees

biking around

Once September rolls around I'll be biking all around the country. That's what the last post was about... please donate what you can so we have the funds to do projects like the ones listed above. I'll be participating in the entire tour - 23 days of non-stop biking. Whoo! It'll be quite a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.

Until next time.
Take care.

Le Tour de Burkina

Second annual Bike Tour kicks off the 31st of August, 2011.

I'll copy and paste the informational letter here:

Dear Family and Friends of Peace Corps Burkina Faso,

Beginning August 31, 2011, Peace Corps volunteers from around Burkina Faso will be participating in Le Tour de Burkina, the second annual country-wide bike tour to raise money for Gender and Development projects in Burkina.

Gender and Development projects encompass a huge variety of volunteer projects, be they organizing a girls’ camp to promote self-esteem and goal setting or helping a women's group conduct an income generating activity. These are of critical importance in Burkina Faso and represent a significant component of each volunteer’s work. The Gender and Development (GAD) Committee exists to support volunteer-initiated, gender equity projects around Burkina Faso; with Le Tour de Burkina we hope to generate funds so the GAD Committee can give small-scale project grants and volunteers can continue the essential work of promoting gender awareness and equality in Burkina Faso. We’re proud to say that last year’s tour raised nearly $5,000 – enough to fund 35 GAD grants.

Please help us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $6,000 by visiting our blog and making a donation:

To be certain your donation reaches Gender and Development projects, be sure to specify
“GAD Gender and Development” in the Comments section.

In Burkina Faso, one dollar goes a long way, so even the smallest contribution will make a big difference. Follow the blog to learn more about the tour, which projects were funded last year, and to stay updated while we’re on the road.

This year we will be riding for 23 days, covering 1,700 kilometers (that’s the distance from New York City to Orlando), and passing by 32 volunteer sites. In addition to kicking off celebrations of Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, the tour will increase awareness of Peace Corps Burkina Faso’s activities and reinforce the relationships within volunteers’ communities.

Thanks for your support!


Peace Corps Burkina Faso

Gender and Development Committee

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Non-Update

This is just to let everyone who is following my blog that I am truly sorry that I haven't written in a thousand and one years!! I've been busy with my personal life and my professional life. I'm planning on periodically updating this thing just as it comes to me. I will no longer take things from my journal - they seemed to be too personal... which some people may appreciate, but others may find TMI.


That's it.

Keep tuned in.
I promise I'll write something soon!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Staring Contest

Undetermined day in March… Sometime between Tuesday and the following Tuesday

I swear – sometimes I want to scream at people here. Okay, maybe not, but I honestly don’t get it when kids and even teenagers stare at me when I’m not doing a damn thing. They treat me like an animal at a zoo (at least it’s not a petting zoo, huh?). But all this little girl has done all morning is stare at me. I wake up and look out to the courtyard and I see this girl sitting directly across the way from me… I fall back asleep for a little while, wake up again and there she is… just… staring. I sit up and look around and now she’s moved to a spot where she can stare some more… seriously? Really, is it necessary to keep an eye on me at all times? Am I really that interesting, scary, magnificent, grotesque? I mean, come on – my life is not that exciting. I do not do extraordinary things. I can’t breath fire. I can’t fly. I can’t even play soccer.

Dance Dance Paint

Tuesday.15 Mars 2011

Good News: My bookshelf suddenly appeared at my house today… and it grew legs and an extra divider! YAY

Bad News: My BugHut’s zipper died today. I’ve sewn myself inside for tonight… suppose I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

In other news – I learned there’s a lot of racism in Germany according to my friend at the CSPS? Good? Let’s go back to today and the fact that I am unable to write ledgably this evening (scribbles and scratches mark my journal). What’s up with that?

Woke up late (8:00 (almost)) and decided to PAINT! my walls that is. And because I ordered my bookshelf from Sapouy the other week I thought it would be smart to paint the wall I will be putting it against. SO, I get to paintin’ and start off with Beyoncé and I singing a duet of “If I Were a Boy” – for some grand reason, I am loving that woman right now and have since I arrived in Africa. Adam, you can suck it! She’s good. Do you hear that voice?! So I dance, sing and paint for about 2 ½ hours and then after being the sweatiest person ever I causer with my neighbors who are building a house (yea, another one). They tease me and ask if I want to help throw this cement/mud mixture up to the man on top of the wall they’re building up… I was going to… but didn’t know exactly how and didn’t want to slam mud onto the side of the wall… or on the man standing next to me. Then I went inside to eat breakfast and read some more of Bill Cosby’s HILARIOUS “Love & Marriage.” Right as I’m getting to a good part I hear a really loud moto pull up and immediately get annoyed because I think it’s one of the extremely annoying men who just come to my house (thinking they’re badass on their moto) just to saluate me… and then make fun of my inability to speak the local language… BUT… I heard my name and I go outside and see the carpentor and my bookshelf on my patio! Yay. It’s finished and pretty much exactly how I wanted it. I take paint out and paint it immediately! Gave the guy 10.000 CFA and a big cup of water. That jerk asked for more money because he had to transport it on his moto instead of his car that was mysteriously broken. No sir, I will not pay you more. The thing was already way overpriced. Bon, got that done (painting the unit) and then went inside, cleaned my house, brought the unit in (by myself, by the way… that thing was heavy!) and oh my goodness it looks great! I am so happy with it and can’t wait to finish painting my house – right now it’s just ALL white (at least the walls I have conquered) but it will soon be yellow and I’ll have a green bedroom. Really thrilled. No joke. Finally, I take a bucket bath around 3pm and go out to the taillor to diminuer a dress I got from the grabbox at the transit house, talk with some people and then buy key ingrediants for dinner (had fideo & yes, it was delicious as always). Then went to the CSPS to causer and thus I learned about racism iin Germany and also was told I will be learning how to make peanut brittle and tô tomorrow! A fantastic day I’d like to confess. Tomorrow is baby weighing and marché – should be a good one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three Men

Friday: March 11, 2011: 1:33

In Ouaga and can't get to bed. I told myself I'd go to sleep a long time ago and yet, here I am.

I'm hot. I'm exhausted. I'm restless. I'm thirsty. But mostly: I can't shut my brain off.

I've been chatting with a few fellows from Americaland this evening and will have to say, overall, I'm confused. I'm happy, but confused. Talked with Scott and was told that women have an overwhelmingly persuasive power that they hold over men. Okay - check. I know this and sometimes I take advantage of that fact and other times I'm scared by it and push it away. Next came Jarred - none of my letters have gotten to him. Disappointment. He has become so "NY" and such a ladies man! I can't wait to share some nights with him in the big Apple. I am promised food, bath and dancing. Yes. All fine with me. Lastly came Adam. Oh, what can I say about that man anymore? It's such a tug-of-war with him, my heart, his heart, his wants, my situation. He tells me one thing and then says another. I told him he's in a contradicting funk right now and that he's running around in circles - turning around and yelling at his shadow. I told him I will disappear. He doesn't want that. But he wants to try his luck with his new fix. But blames me for being in his head. Again. I can make him forget me easily. I have those capabilities. I can shove his out of my life - but I don't know if I would ever let him in again if he chose to take that option. I'm to the point of not even seeing him when I come home in December. I may just fly into NY, layover for two days and then fly down to Houston and stay there - well, I'd have to visit San Marcos to see Ashley and I may, no, I have to go to Austin to see Mel, Steve and Bish (maybe do a shoot... for old times sake? ha). But really - if he wants things to work with him and his PYT then I will respect that. Though I'd also love to go see him and show him what he's been missing and choosing to pass up. It just seems complicated right now and it is, of course, nine months away. No need for me to fret.

Only thing I need to now is that I'll layover in NY and then fly to Houston.
Good plan.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

"... of a humanity that no longer knows anything and no longer remembers anything and lives in cities without names where the streets are without names or with names different from those they had yesterday,

Because a name is continuity with the past and people without a past are people without a name."

-Milan Kundera

Six Words

Sunday: March 06, 2011

This proves my fickleness: I uttered the 6 words I NEVER thought I'd say:

"Maybe I will stay three years"

Oh boy. Here's why: I thought about how long (such a short period in the whole run) I've been at site - it's been six months: from September to February - and I thought about all the things I have yet to do... I have yet to causer casually and consistently with my family compound. I have yet to learn all their names. I have not entirely made up my house. I'm just now painting the inside of my house. I ordered two chairs and a table. I'm getting a shelving unit made. I haven't even hung pictures up because I was waiting to paint. SIX MONTHS. So - as I do - I thought about my potential projects: HEARTH model will be held back for a while because I've been gone so much. My moringa seeds have not been touched because I don't know what or how to make a pepinaire. Gah. By this rate I may only get a couple of HEARTH models in, few demonstrations of enriched bouille ... and maybe teach a health class at the primary school.

So - because I want to do work I said those terrible six words

I take them back

Side note: some bug is frantically trying to either get in my bughut and attack me or just crawl underneath it. Of course I think it's a scorpion carrier, but at this point it's hard for me to care.

I've moved my tent from one side/corner of my patio to the middle - I'm gonna see if I sweat as much here - as I did there. I'm thinking I'll be moving on into the middle of the compound soon enough. It's HOT and I'm pretty sure I'm in a constant state of perspiring... and not just a little - but like the way Dad sweats profusely after washing his car, taking a shower and standing under a fan... and still is dripping sweat... for HOURS.


I hope heat rash doesn't plague me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Fickle Ways

05 March 2011

I am so fickle. I hate it. I hate that I feel pushed and pulled in so many directions. I so want to do a good job here in Burkina Faso. I want to learn the community: the language(s), the people, the food... and yet I'm such a coward. I want to do work but just don't know how to get started. And then - I have an urge to go home and finish what my words started and begin my life. I have an eerie feeling that if I go home anytime soon - that's all I'll know and I want to open my eyes to the world before then.

Pushed to stay here
Pulled to go back

Alas, today was pretty fantastic - drawing the kids in my family courtyard. I am slowly learning how to GIVE IN when life throws me curves... all part of allowing the flow to take you where it pleases. I just wanted to be alone when I went out to write... and then a crowd of children surrounded me and were not letting up on breaking into my personal bubble. I resisted. But I gave in... and I'm so glad

on a bad note:



Women Vs. Men

Friday: March 04, 2011

Second day of ear piercing and all is well. It's not incredibly swollen, nor does it hurt more than it should. I can move the plastic earring up and down with ease so there is minimum blood, puss, plasma excreting from the newly opened hole. good.

I had an incredibly lazy day (not planned). Got up around 9 because I had such a hard time sleeping (partly because of my ear and partly because of the heat) and so my intention was to eat breakfast, take a bucket bath and head out to the CSPS. Well - at least my intentions were good, right? Instead I walked, rather paced, around my onesizefitsall and made chocolate peanut butter oatmeal (yum!) and finished reading "Another Roadside Attraction" by Tom Robbins. Not sure how I feel about the entirety of his first novel, but there are plenty of quotes/idiosyncrasies that I adore. So, overall - it was well worth reading. Next I thought about taking a bucket back because by this time of the day I'm sweating just from sitting in my house but get distracted by my computer and decided to watch a movie - really - I just wanted to see what one particular movie was about (and yes, this is rare that I get to watch something at site... one the rare occasion that my computer is charged from a recent trip to the city)...So I've heard good things about this movie: Inception. Well, I'm completely stuck within the first 5 minutes - so mind blown, confused, intrigued... yea - looks like I'll be watching this.

Ew. I have sweat just D R I P P I N G from me and the sun isn't even UP! It's almost 8pm. WTF Gross.

So back to the movie - it was fantastic - and I so wish sometimes life were more like dreams, or rather, I wish we had the option to live in our dreams sometimes. So good. Must see that again and own it when I'm back in the States.

The rest of my day consisted of finding a new book to read: "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" by Milan Kundera. seems okay right now. And then I ate a late lunch (around 3 pm) and then went to the pump 4 times to fill up my blue garbage bin.

Oh my gosh - I despise how men here believe with all their might that they are the superior of the two sexes - that they have the right-of-way in every situation and they deserve to be first at everything and what they say is the law. Bullshit. I tell you, absolute B U L L S H I T. Even the teenage - possibly even preteen boys think their word is greater than WOMEN twice their age.

So, this group of boys came to the pump and completely tried and succeeded to take control. There are some girls who just have a small bottle they'd like to get filled and put it under the faucet and the boy who's pumping (power hungry for sure, or just an asshole) knocks the bottle out of the girls hand and the other boy shoves her aside and places a big bidon under the faucet. I get up, pick up the bottle - remove the bidon from the faucet and tell the boy to "pumpé!" and I fill up the bottle for the girl - the women seemed impressed and I got some resistance from the boy who was pumping water (he laughed and thought I was joking... ha, year right kid) But geez. That irks me so much.

Back at home and I find Ligdi on my wall. I take some pics with him and wonder how he got so low... maybe he fell? And just when I thought that he does fall!! I wonder if he's okay... I sure hope so. For his sake, and mine. I don't want some rabid Ligdi bat dead in my house - and I'd be sad if he got hurt during his tumble.

Sweating profusely.
Holy bucket.

Diamonds & Rust

Mars 03.03.11

Well, the day came and went && myself and the Chev bike to Ouaga on the 27th of Fevrier!! We left approximately at 6:00 (we were shooting for 5, get up at 4:30, but took longer to get going)... took a couple of breaks (much needed - and directed, thank you, by Chev), drank (btwn the two of us) 4.5 L of water and ORS and bike for 5 hours. That equals us conquering 75 km on our bikes. It was great and surprisingly, my body wasn't as upset with me as I was assuming. :] Next time (yes, there will be a next time) I want to go faster and see how fast my legs can take me. We averaged 15km per hour and I would like to average 17km - 19km per hour. Tough. But do-able. I will say because we biked we were probably the laziest human beings on the planet this past 2-3 days. All we wanted to do was sit around and drink water and sit some more. Maybe kill a few brain cells while searching on Facebook... but mostly sit.

I ended up getting sick this trip to Ouaga. No fun. I believe it's our 2nd day in the city and we're still being ultra lazy but decide to go out to Fespaco and enjoy a movie! We order in from Hamburger House and I get courageous and order a sunny burger (cheeseburger with an egg) YUM... almost like Red Robin, but not even close. And I got a chocolate milkshake too. Double Yum. and as I'm eating and skyping with my one true love Ashley - I think to myself (what a wonderful life/world... check lyrics?) this doesn't taste so good. This may be a mistake on the part of my taste-buds, or my body is trying to warn me... well, I didn't listen. We all finish dinner and head out to the road to find a cab to take downtown - but this time my belly is yelling at me. Oh no. We get to Fespaco and buy a ticket for "The Last Flight of the Flamingo" and to our surprise it has ENGLISH subtitles! Yippee! Unfortunately, the severed penises, soft core porn and Portuguese didn't hold my attention and I fell asleep on numerous occasions. Oops. We leave centreville and successfully pack in 8 volunteers in one four door cab... 2 in front, 6 in back (four down on the seat and two on top of the pile). Yeah, we're pros, please, don't try this at home.

The whole time I feel like I'm gonna puke... well, long story short: I had 8 bands march out of my mouth at around midnight and on to 4:30am. I got so dehydrated (I thought I was gonna faint or pass out) I had to cling to the toilet to keep myself up. I ended up calling for one of the other volunteers in the house to come and help me, or bring me a glass of water and a thermometer because I felt like I was on fire. The PCMO came and got me and gave me the most painful shot in my left arm to stop vomiting. Ow. It still is sore. And I didn't get to bed until after 6:00am... I woke up at 8:00. :[

The rest of my time in Ouaga was uneventful. Talked with Ash some more, my mom and Adam. All is well back home from what I can tell. I know Ashley is bound for great things! Stupid Teach for America doesn't know what they passed up.

I came back to Sap on the 17:00 KGB bus on the 2nd (yesterday) and stayed the night there because of the following reasons:
  • It was way too dark to bike and I don't have good night vision as it is
  • Today was marché day in Sap
  • Check mail
  • Delicious flame roasted chicken!
  • I have a complet in the works
  • My ear needs piercing ASAP
Let's elaborate on that last bullet point, shall we? There are three ethnic groups in Sourou: Mossi, Grounssi and Peuhl. Well, the Peuhl women have lots of piercings and even more jewelry. One of their piercings is the upper cartilage of the ear - they string beaded earrings in that piercing. It's gorgeous! I've wanted that since seeing it the first time. But one dilemma: no piercing. Other dilemma: no one to pierce it. Last dilemma: it's dirty in this country and I'm scared of infection.

Well - I finally asked someone about dilemma #1, and yes, there is a woman who can thread the earring into my ear, but no piercer. Ah, but what about the CSPS staff? Uh HUH! I go and ask the midwife and she tells me she is too scared but there is someone in Sap who can do it. √ Next question: will it be sanitary? Why yes - I can take care of that if anything and I'll be sure to wash it. No prob.

Okay - So I go to Sap one day (last wk) and talk with a nurse... she's too scared. Ugh. She does say there's a Madame Ouedrougou who can do it and says I should come back in March. Okay - so today rolls around and I check out the maternity: ask for the Madame and am sent out on a mission to find my own needle and plastic thread (to act as my first earring). Check. Go back and she sanitized everything (yes, I watched) and the nurse who was too afraid to do it herself comes in to watch. I'm a little nervous now. Damn. I tell the nurse and she laughs and I tell her to come and hold my hand. She does and tells me du courage! du courage! So nice and then the needle goes through. OW! And worst part... where the nurse tied the plastic thread onto the needle it gets stuck and she has to YANK it through. OOOOWWWW. And then it's over. I feel a wee bit nauseous but am overall good. She prescribes me an antibiotic and an anti-inflamitory. Yay. That costs 2,300CFA: that's about 5 bucks for 10 days of anti-inflamitory and 5 days antibiotic. Nice.

It still throbs with pain, but that's expected. I'll be washing it 3 x's a day and maybe after 10 - 15 days I can remove the plastic and put in a metal earring and let that heal and then I'll have a woman thread the Peuhl earring through my ear. Yay. I'm excited.

Welp - time for bed. My body is still exhausted from biking and vomiting so much. Sleep.

Sleep is good, eh?

Why'd You Want to Live Here

February 25, 2011

I hate it when I get up early in the morning because my bladder decided to change jobs and turn into my alarm clock - and then I decide to go back to bed after visiting the "bathroom"... why can't I get it through my head that it would be better to just begin my day then? Well - instead I went to bed - like a lazy ass - and woke up "naturally" (sans an alarm... but I have many noisy neighbors) at 8:00 (okay, really 7:57, but who's keeping track?)

I decided yesterday that I'd go to Sap today. I wanted to leave early so I could get back and causer with the CSPS staff after mid-day... Instead - I woke up late, got going later and caught a bus in Kation at 13:45. I left my site at 10:30(ish) and got to Taré around 11. There was a bush taxi approaching around then but refused to stop because they said there wasn't any room... now... my readers, this is RARE! In this country there is ALWAYS room for one more. I think they were just being lazy and didn't want to put my bike on top of the van. So while they don't stop I decide I'll just bike to Kation and see if I can rest there and catch a bus in about 30 minutes. Plus a man on a moto in Taré was pointing his cell phone camera in my direction and I don't like being treated like a roadside attraction... that'll be 500 CFA please sir! You can't just take my picture because you don't see this everyday. & If you treat me like an amusement site then I'll collect my fee.

So off I went, got to Kation, wasn't in the mood to bike any further and certainly wasn't in the mood to be called nasara and be stared at - so I was short and a bit bitchy when people would call me that and then laugh and state the obvious. So so so annoying. Point is - I wait for about two hours and get shot down by every bush taxi and camion... no room, my ass. I guess ALL the functionaires are going to Ouaga to pick up their check for the month? Finally KGB stops and almost turns me down, but I convinced them to let me on. The man who put my bike on the top of the bus said I owe him 200 CFA. Whatever. He was pissed and I just laughed at him and said no way.

The whole reason for me to go to Sapouy is to get my cartilage pierced at the maternity at the CSPS.

Yesterday at the marché I asked my friend Safia if she knew someone who could pierce ears like the Peuhl women and she asked me why - and I told her I wanted to get it done and have the same earring as the Peuhl women because I think it's really pretty - she said she did. I went and bought the earrings (one for me and one for my love Ashley) and then causered with the women a little. They were so excited I wanted to get that done - one offered to do it... but I rethought the whole process and decided it may be best to do so at the CSPS with sterile equipment. So I asked the nurse here and she said "no way!" She said she was too scared to do that, but there's a woman at the maternity in Sapouy who can do it, no problem.

So that's why I biked, waited and rode a bus to Sapouy. Turns out: the nurse who was there is too scared to do it as well - but told me the other nurse who was gone for the day/week can do it and should be back Monday. I'll be back in Ouaga, but it doesn't hurt to check in the next day (I'll come back Tuesday or Wednesday)

I can't wait.
Biking to Ouaga the 27th with Chev!
It's gonna suck, but it'll be so worth it and so much fun!!

Going into Sap again tomorrow and then spending the night in Gallo... then biking. Yes!

Not Censored

23 Fevrier 2011

6:00 - Wake up/Pack/Wash/Sunscreen
6:35 - Leave Hil's house
6:57 - Get on bush taxi, off to Ouaga
10:oo - Arrive in centreville Ouaga, bike to TH
11:32 - See more signs of affection between Beak and PYT
12:00 - Send mean message via FB to Beak
13:00 - Regret sending message & call

Talking with him was... wonderful? I first thought it would end badly - we would yell, me cry, and possibly ruin our friendship/love for a while. At least all I wanted to do was yell at him and tell him that he's being stupid and selfish and is rushing into something when I know how he feels. But instead - he made me laugh instead of cry. I hate him. I hate that he is rushing into this relationship with this girl. I hate that he did this in a week since we last talked. I hate that I'm not there. I hate that I told him I didn't want his support anymore here. I hate that he thought I wanted to cut ties: cut hearts. I hate that I can't do anything about this. I hat that I fear he'll fall for this girl, his new PYT. I hate that I'm a year and a half from him. I hate me sometimes. I hate my defense mechanisms.

But, undeniably, I cannot say my hate doesn't derive from a deeper emotion. Though I spit venom at him and his new fix. I spit venom because I'm hurt. I spit because I am scared. I spit because I had doubts. I speak because I know I made a mistake.

I still don't know what to do about this situation. I don't want him to forget me. I know - truly - he wont, but momentarily - he will. I know he can. But maybe it would be best for me to let it rest. I'm starting work. HEARTH models. Camps. Cloth Books. Moringa planting. Porridge demonstrations. Maybe if I let it rest, my time here will fly and I can get home sooner.

I should censor these, shouldn't I?

& You Were Not the Same After That

February 21st, 2011: monday

Well - I made it to Sala in one day - I wouldn't necessary say in one piece (in more way than one - I'm a little torn/broken/battered).

Last night was spend in Gallo at Chev's house. I'm getting to really like that lady a lot! We had tô with gumbo sauce and salad for dinner and "hired" a biiga (child) to kill a scorpion carrier outside of her latrine.... I was sitting in her house reading Discover magazine and I hear her call my name. She asked if I could kill a spider for her - yeah, sure, why not? So I was summoned at first, but couldn't gussy up enough nerve for that monster! So I used my bien integre knowledge and called out for a child to come... and thus, one did - we pointed at the spider and he looked at us like "are you serious? you called me out here in the pitch dark to kill a small spider for you?!" but it was HUGE!!! I promise! After that task we talked about boys and how things have strangely occurred here... people getting together, relationships ending/starting, drunken occurrences here, etc. And then we went to bed. Sometime during the night either a mouse or lizard conjured up a plan to jump on my head around 5:00am while I was minding my own business sleeping... I was rightly traumatized and Chev invited me under her mosquito net and sleep safely for a little longer - where we are safe from ALL elements.

The next day (today) I woke up and caught a bus to Ouaga, got to the transit house, took a shower, mooched on electronics to charge my iPod, phone and get online... and that last one was a mistake. I immediately log onto Facebook and to my dismay find that my entire being fell apart. I found out news or gossip that I'd rather not known about. My Beak (even though really never mine to call officially) is no longer mine to call. I know I haven't been able to "call him mine" since the summer of '09, but something sparked "us" again while I've been over here and even though I told him I couldn't live in two places at once... I didn't think he would rush into a relationship. I thought we were on mutual terms... but I guess that was stupid for me to assume.


"What the Quan?!"

19 Fevrier 2011

I hear a voice while I'm peacefully sleeping in my tent outside (under my hanger) and I open my eyes and see the neighbor boy holding a baby and another small boy standing at the entrance of my patio (according to Peace Corps, it's my own private courtyard... lies) and they're just WATCHING me sleep. God. Effing. Damn it. So creepy. I yell at them in English to "get the hell away!! GO!!" They just kind of stood there and I waved my hand in the motion of getting them the heck away from my house and they finally left. O. M. G. So damn creepy. In the States there are PLENTY of "normal" behaviors here that would be illegal. gaaaahhhh.

Phew that was a bad way to wake up - but the day has been good. Finished all my laundry (sans underwear and pagnes - but have plenty until my fingers heal). Went to the pump at least six times today during my rounds of mediums and darks and filling up my water filter (I was stupid and added bleach this time and now it tastes like a pool). I got my back tire patched - didn't feel like dealing with it deflating anymore and my fingers were too torn up to worry about it - so I took it to the marché and got a man to fix it. 75 CFA √ Then bought some beignets (need to lay off those, but they are SOOOO good) and went to the CSPS to chat with Agathe, NEYA and check my phone. We talked about how after two years I'll have a belly like Agathe's and arms like her too - I told her I do NOT want that to happen, that instead of fat, I want LOTS of muscle. Neya said if I get too many muscles then men won't be interested in me... I said "good - I don't want a man right now!" Then we talked about marriage, my family - how women in the States smoke cigarettes, fidelity and infidelity && what happens when someone is infidel in a marriage in the States) and lastly babies (and spacing them out). It was a good chat and made me happy to be in site. I want more of those. Mariam came at the butt end of the convo and commented on how I was wearing a pagne as a skirt (traditional for women here) and made fun of the way I attached it. I simply told her that I didn't know exactly how, but it works. They all laughed and Agathe told me to buy a pagne with a string to tie it so it's easy. As I was walking away Mariam said my skirt was going to fall off - but I just said "nu uh!" and turned around and did a little dance to show them it was secure and everyone cracked up! Oh I am such a comedian. Hardy Har Har. :]

Now I'm sitting after a bucket bath and only wish I could start painting my rooms! I found out that it's not necessary to apply cement on the walls after all. Apparently it's not bamko only, it has a layer of something else - so it's maybe a mix of cement and mud? But I just found that out today and I guess that's better because I may want to buy more colorant and I want to take pictures while I do it and my camera is in Ouaga.

Going to Sap tomorrow to pick up my dress (uniform for Ashley's wedding). I'm really excited to see the finished product. Then off to Galo for the night and on to Ouaga - Koudougou - Sabou and finally Sala!! Hopefully I'll make it in one day.

Pg. 416, ¶3: Kafka on the Shore

"These signs reconfigure themselves, metaphors transform, and I'm
drifting a w a y,
a w a y from myself.
I'm a butterfly, flitting along the edges of
c r e a t i o n.
Beyond the edge of the world there's a space where
emptiness and substance neatly overlap,
form a continuous, endless loop.
about there are signs no one has ever read
& chords no one has ever heard."

Twenty Eleven

February 18, 2011

Writing two thousand and eleven still makes me weirded out. I was born in the late nineteen eighties. 1988 and now it's the year of the future. We all thought there'd be flying cars, microchips inserted in us for credit, robots... It kind of stuns me to think of the technology we've created thus far. And here I am living as it's well, whenever it was before electricity (I should know that, shouldn't I?! gah, I graduate from college... duhhh). So we'll say I'm living as if it were a time when candles and flame lanterns were used widely and on a daily basis...

Anyway - not the point of this entry whatsoever - I just simply wanted to say how much I detest it when someone (a Burkinabé) tells me I've gained weight. I'm pretty sure I know and I don't need to be told that I've gained these damn pounds because of the diet here. Ah. That being said - I haven't really changed my habits: i.e. eating like a fat kid in a race. Speaking of races!! I need to jump on the workout/training bus again... the marathon is gonna bite me in the ass if I don't.

Sunburn Fever, Remedy: Paint

February 17, 2011: Thursday

Who loves it when you forget to apply sunscreen and then ride your bike 27km during the sun's peak? Oh yeah - that's what happened today. My face and arms are so burned! The worst it's been since I arrived in country. Damn. Good news: UNIFORMS!!! for Ashley and Josh's wedding are in the making. We (Chev, Emily and I) went shopping for fabric yesterday and decided on a sherbet green/navy blue ensemble with swirls and... wait... best part... PINEAPPLES! Oh yeah. So posh. Chev's getting a halter top dress, Emily: a tube top dress and I'm getting a scoop neck! I'm really excited. I bought some blue lace with brown satin to put up for the top and the bottom part will be the pineapple fabric. I actually think it will be pretty.

I'm getting for a busy next few months ... In 3 days I'm going to another volunteer's site and we're going to do an enriched porridge demonstration and plan a cloth recipe (pictures only) book for volunteers and locals. Then I'll leave and that following weekend I'm going to Ouaga to fill out my VRF (volunteer reporting form) and attend the 50th anniversary celebration (work related, yes!) in Ouaga that's being put on by Friends of Burkina. On the 9th I'll go to Sap to celebrate and put on a bachelorette party for Ashley and the 10th through the 13th I'll be in Ouaga: all wedding related! Then back down to village and (HOPEFULLY) I'll do a HEARTH model the 14th/15th/16th and on for two weeks... then the 30th through the 3rd of Avril I'll be at a Family Planning formation (workshop) and then I'll do either a girls cam before going on a 2 week vacation or vice-verca. All the while, I'll be helping out at the CSPS and maybe doing enriched porridge demos, helping with the school garden and making soap! Whew!! It's gonna be a good, busy, exhausting month and a half. I can't wait.

I also bought paint for the inside of my house - the one size fits all room will be yellow and the bedroom will be green. I need to find someone to cement my walls though. The guys at the store told me I couldn't paint on my walls because they're not cement and I could risk having them crumble. So that will be postponed for a bit - I guess that's okay. I also need to find someone to make a bookshelf for my bedroom and possibly something for my onesizefitsall room. I'm getting two chairs made!! Yippee!!

side note: I took a nap today and dreamt my mom suddenly showed up with her Hyundai SantaFe and was trying to talk with my family compound and was really just playing charades because they don't speak the same language. I was napping when she showed up and so (in my dream) I woke up and showed her around a bit, told her to park her car over by the cows and then I wanted to go back to sleep, but I keep on getting up and showing her around, and going back to nap, back and forth. It was bizarre and confused me when I woke up (for real). It made me want my mom to visit SOON! I'll have to wait until summer for that - seems so far away but I know it's right around the corner. We've been in country for 8 months. WOW. At site for 6 months - I can't believe that. I'm so ready to get working. Time will fly by even faster and I'll feel like I'm useful and have accomplished things (unlike now :[ )

Alright, time to go to Agathes to causer - ate tô from my neighbors already tonight and it was so so so good!! I think I'll learn that sauce tomorrow.

Dead Fish are Toys Here

15 Fevrier 2011

"Who can really distinguish between the sea and what's reflected in it? Or tell the difference between the falling rain and loneliness?"

What can I say about yesterday? Sometimes I feel as if keeping a record of my thoughts/feelings/emotions is pointless... but I know it not only clears my head, but allows me to think about what's going on in my world. Certain people have different outlets... and one of mine is writing. Yesterday was Valentine's Day... I used to dub it Singles Awareness Day: S.A.D. ha. Well, I am single, but I don't feel alone. Okay, that's a lie. I feel single. I feel alone. I feel lonely. I feel undesirable. But I'm comfortable... maybe that's not the right word... I feel... well, I don't know how I feel about it. I feel conflicted, but okay with that confliction. Valentine's Day has always been a kind of sad awakening for me - time for me to wake up and know I'm just find being BY MYSELF on this day for couples. I can proudly say I am able to fully support myself and my happiness on these two feet of mine. I am strong enough, independent enough, bright enough, and all that nonsense to be just fine on my own.

I don't need to have anyone tell me that I'm doing fine or reassure me of my importance. Yes - it is nice, but it's definitely not necessary.

I talked with Adam and he seemed really down in the pits. His car is broken and he may have to save up for a new one - but there was definitely something else, something more to the dullness of his voice than a broken car. I told him that he's acting like I'm... knock on wood... dead. I'm just away for now and we're not together. We somehow allowed ourselves to fall into that pit of dependence though. I didn't sign up for that and I refuse to be corralled into a pin. I am a free bird right now and cannot handle having to worry about what my best friend is feeling, what my ma and pa are fighting about nor why my love quit her job... I deeply care about all of them, but living both here and there is... simply put... impossible.

Anyway - today was a new day and it was a rather good one. I'm reading "Little Bee" and it's wonderful. Easy to read and very touching. Somehow I think Ma sent it to me simply because one of the main characters is from Nigeria. :] I recently finished "Jitterbug Perfume" and am intrigued by the author - can't wait to read the second book Ashley sent me! I am also very much enticed by the word: Erleichda. There isn't an exact translation, but the way the author used it makes me want to get it engraved in my skin. Another book I just read was "Sputnik Sweetheart." It was good, nothing short of what I was expecting from Murakami and I think there are plenty of things I'll take from it on a second read.

Let's get back to today, shall we? I woke up naturally around 8:00 - I am trying to live my days without a watch on - I want to have my days conducted by the sun and not my watch. Hopefully I'll be getting up earlier and going to bed at a normal 9:00 - 10:00? I ate WAY too much oatmeal after I worked out for a bit: sit-ups, crunches, push-ups... and lots of lunges! I've decided I probably will NOT be able to eat whatever I please and NOT have a Buddha belly. So after eating my heaping bowl of oatmeal (big enough for 2 1/2 people) I decided that from now on I shall only allow a small cup of oatmeal in the morning and that's it! And then I even played with the idea of only allowing that cup to be my portion for each meal - I'll test it out & see what happens... tomorrow. Got dressed after my bucket bath and realized today we should have a CoGes meeting... so I dress in business casual and head out to the CSPS only to discover it practically being deserted! Agathe has been gone for like 4 days now and the major left for Sapouy and Ouaga on account of business and probably some pleasure (his wife lives in Ouaga) and he'll be gone for about a week. I did talk to the new nurse NEYA and found out that he's really nice and seems to know a lot about what he's doing. I think I'll be working with him a bunch these next two years.

Went to the marché after that and talked a bit in Mooré, Nuuni and Français but didn't do anything or say anything extraordinary. But thought it was quite funny that I ended up (as I frequently do) speaking all three languages, yeah, three!, within a span of about five minutes. Ahh. But I did buy a trashcan, a marmite (for a dutch oven) and 2011's pagne for International Women's Day! It's really pretty. Tomorrow I'll be going to Sap to get a dress made for Ashley and Josh's wedding in early March. And hopefully I'll buy some paint (FINALLY) for my house. I can't wait to paint my house and make it a home. I've already made some bulletin boards for pictures but haven't hung them because I want to paint beforehand. I'm getting two chairs made and I'm gonna find a carpenter tomorrow in Sap.

I wish I could scan in my drawing: I drew my favorite little boy in my family compound! Baboudou. He's adorable.

Jitterbug Perfume

"The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique & irreplaceable being"

"The word desire suggests that there is something we do not have. If we have everything already, then there can be no desire, for there is nothing left to want. I think what the Buddha may have been trying to tell us is that we have it all, each of us, all the time; therefore, desire is unnecessary. To eliminate the agitation and disappointment of desire, we need but awaken to the fact that we have everything we want and need right now."


"Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative and curious... Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me then, Alobar, in order to acheive immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?

'Water babbles to stone, but stone will not answer,' responded Alobar"

- Tom Robbins

Nor•mal |nôrmel| adjective

February 08, 2011: Tuesday

The novelty of being away from those I thought I needed is wearing - save, I still, and will always need them. Being here is both making my heart grow fonder - but it is also making it more callused. I feel tugged, and I feel the need to push away - no, rather, let go of the rope that once held me down in a place where my roots took grounding. Letting go and letting my clipped wings repair the cuts they've been so accustomed to endure as a way of life - but now is my time. Now is the time for me to allow air to be rushed under and for sights to be engulfed by these cameras I call my eyes.

Though, it seems to difficult to capture what I now find so normal... my life here has it's moments of newness - but in actuality - not having my car, but rather a bike; dirt paths, not paved roadways; donkeys as a mode for shipping things, not trucks; and then children wandering, mothers carrying basins of water on their heads with a baby strapped to their back, men knocking down walls with a small device called a dabah (always barefoot), women pounding grains (all day), people of all ages taking a squat anywhere they please... it's an endless list of things that were so new to me, but now are just normal life. It is not new. It is not strange. It is my life and I don't know how to convey these things to my audience back home and "be excited" about it.

My flight here has plummeted to a steady plateau that may not interest me in recording the basics. I sleep in a tent. I eat rice or maccarroni or tô ALL the time. I drink "watered down" beers more than I should. I speak at least 3 languages daily. I read, cook, write by lantern or headlamp. I do not have a toilet. I bathe out of a bucket. I do not have a grocery store anywhere near where I live. I shop from men and women who sit on the ground under big trees. I do not have running water. I do not have electricity. My feet are callused. My knees and above must ALWAYS be covered when in public. My arms are darker than the rest of my body. I do not have internet in the vicinity of at least 50km from my house. I ride my bike to get vegetables 27km away every 3 to 6 days (one way). I love waking up to hear my neighbors working. I am confused the majority of the day. My conversations usually involve a lot of questions about family, work, house and then confused looks of "I don't understand." I have to bike to a manual pump to fetch my water.

Normal. What is normal when one's world is so diverse?
I want to experience every kind of normal that exists.
I want to experience the world as it is.
I want to soar & fly & dip & crash.
I want to recover.

Mud Fish Treasures

02 February 2011

Today confirmed that I’m glad to be back at site. Got up late (I’ve been running on low battery for far too long) and decided to do some sit-ups, lunges, push-ups and leg lifts before my bucket bath. It was wonderful to be physical again. Then I made a promise to myself that I would start learning Nuuni today! Little by little, but it’s time to start. So I get dressed and go out to causer with my neighbors – no one’s really around so I go to my second favorite family compound and just sit down. One lady is pounding rice: N zuah menah yah buhaa. So I just start asking questions.

  • Menah = rice
  • N zuah = to pound
  • Yah buhaa = c’est prêt, it’s ready
  • Na genah = to take
  • Neeah = water
  • Djnahn = tomorrow
  • Yea = market

I understood most of the translations but I’m sure there are some mix ups. I want to impress other volunteers with my local language like Halley, Hilary and Erika impress me! Next – I tried to go get water for my neighbors and bring it back. A little girl was sent out there – and for some reason she was so upset to go! So I joined her. Well, I learned a little more at the pump, I think that will be a good spot for learning the language. My friend Saphia cam over and was stunned that I was about to take the water in a large basin on my head to my neighboring family. Well, I guess it was smart of her to feel that way. They put this huge basin on my head and I immediately regret my decision. Ha. I was so wobbly. I had no idea it would be that heavy. All I could do was laugh and attempt to walk and as a result: water was slushing and falling all over me. Everyone was laughing. I was soaked by the time the teenager girl came to get it from me. Whoops. I want to try it again – but I think it would be a good idea to start with a smaller bowl.

After that extravaganza I went to the CSPS and met the new nurse: NEYA Lassionne. I got bored quickly and wanted to go find Agathe to learn more language and double check what I had written down. She was sleeping, so I headed to the marché to see if I could grab something to eat (maybe rice or something small from the boutique) but instead was distracted and followed my neighbor to, well, I had no idea where she was going. I normally see her at the marché selling gallets, but because she was on the move with a basket on her head… I decided to see what she was up to. I just greeted her and her friend and off we went walking into the woods. Great. Where’s my camera?! Oh yeah… Ouaga. Does me a lot of good now. We took a break in a clearing and I saw my entire family compound there (sans the men and some children). Everyone had woven baskets with two holds, one big and one small on either end – looking like a funnel. I had no idea what we were going to do. A large group of women came from the direction of the village and then we started walking again… Hmmm… Alisonne showed up and said we were going fishing. What? But there’s no body of water anywhere around here… at least not this way – we’d have to go by Taré. Oh well – I guess I’ll see when we get there. And that’s exactly what happened – we get there and there was a dried up “lake” with muddy puddles of water. What kind of fish would be living here? I don’t know… But the women all start singing and then they charge the water! Baskets, skirts, mud flying everywhere – they are in there and they want them some FISH! There must be 50 or so women all armed with their baskets and they are slamming them down into the water, putting their arms into the baskets to see if they’ve caught a fish. Once they get one, they either put their treasure of mud fish into a sac on their side, or, as I found out rather quickly, they throw their fish to the children on the “shore”… I was almost kamakazied by a fish… Man. What a sight. I do hope I can capture this with my camera before I leave. So amazing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clipped Wings, No More

Tuesday: February 01, 2011

I'm finally back at site after 2 weeks and one day. Wow. IST (In-Service Training) was:

Busy. Exhausting. Frustrating. Fun. Confusing. Crazy. Okay

I'm quite surprised as to how happy I am to be back at site. I didn't think I'd be happy here because I've been away for so long and have been spoiled by 1st world luxouries/conveniences once again... but I came home and I was greeted with smiles and everyone seems really glad I'm back - & no one asked me for anything!! Big perk! I'll see until tomorrow is that stays true.

So. IST. What happened? Well - we learned about gardening, care groups and the HEARTH model (malnutrition formation). We wasted time on pointless lessons: med sessions, security/safety, new project plan. We danced, drank and danced some more. I've found that I don't want my wings clipped just yet. I don't want to settle. I don't want to predict the future. So I have to let go of Americaland for now. I told my mom, Adam and Ashley that I can't deal with so much contact from home anymore - if I want to talk then I will, but I want to make more friends here in Burkina Faso - I want so much... I want to integrate and not live in two places at once. I want these next two years (year and a half) to go quickly and I can't have half of me in America or Texas.

I think they took it pretty hard.

Bike. Capture. Bath

Friday: 14 janvier 2011

Got some discouraging news today from my neighbors - they warned me not to bike or go running alone because a woman was "trappait" (I actually don't know what word they were using in French, but it sounded like that), or captured by force! I asked them if it was during the day and they said yes. uh oh. They told me to tell the Major when I'm going to Sapouy and have someone (a man, preferably) come with me. Tomorrow I'll ask the Major and Agathe if they have heard anything regarding a woman being taken by force on the way to Taré or another village close by. Gosh - that's not what I ever wanted to hear - especially during the daytime!! I wonder if they are maybe just hearing information and misinterpreting it? I don't really want to risk it though - I mean, I THINK I could fight off someone - but these men are all muscle... So I'm pretty sure I would lose.

On the brighter side of things - I finished my 5th PACA today: The Peuhl men and found a man who speaks both French and Feuhlfeuhldé! YAY. These were only 21 men and this one proves that men truly will be more difficult to get to come to a meeting/reunion/sensibilization or activity. Tomorrow is the CoGes meeting and Sunday I'll speak with the Grounnsi men. I might leave that evening (late afternoon, with the sun still shining brightly) to Sapouy so I can leave for Ouaga early Monday instead of leaving late afternoon for the city.

Side note: I gave Colonel Mustard his first bath today. He didn't like it one bit. BUT he was so pretty afterwards! At least, that is, once he dried. :]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How the Dead Dream

Part of the growing estrangement from family, in the end, was a simple product of freedom. It was the American way to pick and choose from a range of possibilities, not to be bound and obligated. Cut loose from a certain idea of duty, it turned out, individuals did no great deeds but only

d r i f t e d

a p a r t

- Lydia Millet


Wednesday: 12 Janvier 2011

Happy birthday to you - Happy birthday to you - Happy birthday dear Daddy! Happy birthday to you!! And many MORE! Soon enough you'll retire and spend your days relaxing by a pool, on a boat, at the sea, in the mountains, fixing your car, taking a stroll in the park, golfing again... ahh... So CLOSE!

So, I was just thinking about my future possibilities at school... maybe I'll just go ahead and get a 2nd and possibly 3rd degree. It's possible for me to go back to school: another go... and get a degree in Biology/Chemistry (Pre-Med) and while I'm at it I should just get one in Communication Design (Comm Des - for advertising). I mean, I'll be spending 2 years "updating" myself on everything Pre-Med, so why not just go the whole way and start over & while I'm at it - double major? I could freelance while I'm at school. Just an idea. But damn it - I've got a degree in Advertising and a minor in photography - I might as well put them to use while I still can. And I might as well enhance my skills.

Next step: finding a reputable University that can look good from both ends of the spectrum. Then you ask - what good is spending money on a 3rd degree? Well, because I want to & I want to have a "back-up" if Med School falls through.

This sets me back 2 or possibly 3 years... 24 when I return to the States. 28-29 when I get my other degrees and then med school is 2 years plus residency which could be anything from 3 to 6 years. So I'll be 31 when I get my doctorate and anywhere between 34 and 37 when I (start) practicing medicine. That seems so damn old! What about marriage? Kids? I wanted to be married by 26 or 27 and start popping out babies by 28. I want 3-4 kids and I have the genetics for the possibility of twins... okay, 2: BAM! and then 2 more to go. Gotta have a year or so between them. 28 = 2, 30 = 3 and 31 =4. AND I'll be going to school at the same time? Goodness. I don't know if I want that. I don't know if I want to sacrifice my career or future for that mathematical mess of kids. But maybe I'll want them more than that damn white coat. It's hard to say and at the fresh age of 22, I don't really know what I'll want when I get home. But if you don't plan, if you don't look to the future then it's really just going to pass you by without any of your own input.

2012 (Aug) - COS (close of service)... School starts in August. Maybe I can COS in July (early July) so I can travel to Japan beforehand?

2016... bust my ass to get 2 degrees
2017... @ 29 start med school
2019... @ 31 finish med school

2022 - 2025... @ 34 - 37 practice medicine.

Don't Tempt Me Cause I'm Close To The Edge

Tuesday: 11 Janvier 2011

Things Accomplished Today:
  1. PACA: Mossi Men
  2. Marché in Sapouy
  3. Commission groceries
  4. Mail letters
  5. Receive key to mailbox
  6. Bike the whole route to and from Sapouy
I'd say today was mighty good. Woke up fairly early: 6:45 and got myself to the CSPS by 7:30! Had to get there in the wee hours because I was conducting a PACA tool today with the Mossi men. Four down, three to go! Less than one week. Let's see if it happens. The men - it seems - will be pretty difficult to gather and work with or maybe it will be more like a waiting game with them. Men don't show up until after Alisone went out to the marché and rounded up them... and even then it was an hour of waiting. Alisone told them to be at the CSPS by 6:00 and we didn't start until 10:45. How many men showed? 8. W T F?! Oh well, I found out all they do is go out on brousse and come home, eat, pray, read and sometimes sleep with their wife/wives. Gotta take turns. That's right - I asked about where all these babies came from - the women didn't mention it and neither did the men, so I went ahead and put it out there. After that I causered with Agathe and her friend & was commissioned to buy her a gros chou (big cabbage) and 100 CFA of poivrons (green peppers).

So I get to my house and my neighbor (whom I bought 50 CFA of tomatoes yesterday) brings me some lunch: rice and this abnormally DARK sauce - the color of mole sauce. I still don't know what it was made from, but it had hints of tomato, peanut and (I think) some kind of leaf. It wasn't terrible - but it wasn't good either. Anytime my neighbors bring me food I always am cautious to eat it - but out of respect - I do.

After lunch I gather my things for Sapouy: iPod, rice sac, letters for sending, sunglasses, nalgene and purse. Then I head out on my bike - 27km later - I'm in Sapouy! It's 14:00 and so the post is closed... gotta wait and hour and a half for it to open again. 15:30 rolls around and I ask “es'que il y a quel que chose pour moi dans le boit deux?“ He goes and comes back with LETTERS! Four of them!! Mom, Ashley, Devon and Mama Sivil wrote me. : ] I'm ecstatic and can't wait to read them. I tear open all of them and read them all there at the post! Good day. And on top of that, my key was finally ready! Now I don't have to wait and schedule my visits around the hours of the postmen if I'm just checking mail. I then went to the marché and bough cabbage (for Agathe and myself), green pepper (ditto), garlic, squash and eggplant. I have been cooking soups like no other (when I have the veggies) and I don't plan on stopping until I can't stand soup no more!

Biked home - I LOVE LOVE LOVE riding my bike with no hands. I'm a master pro. And I've also mastered the art of dancing while on my bike sans les mains! So much fun and the people love it. Get home just at 18:00 and I've got about 30 minutes until it gets dark. Heat some water, wash dishes, reread letters and take a bucket bath. Bike over to the CSPS to give Agathe her groceries and then bike home to start cooking soup. Same as the first time, but added eggplant. I enjoy myself some instant mashed taters while everything cooks, simmers and loves each other. I eat at 20:00... more like 20:30 and now I'm in my tent outside! Tomorrow I'll do some pre-packing and lay out stuff that I'll take to IST, prepare things and set up how I'll pack. Friday I'll talk with Peuhl men as well as the members of the CoGes and Sunday (hopefully) I'll talk with the Grounssi men.