Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Couple More

Dont ask why it took two seperate posts, i have no idea, but here are a couple more picturesThe lovely Village of Wangala, where another volunteer lives and I got to visit for the weekend. You see a lot of beautiful African sunrises when you're getting up at 5:30 every morning.
Its so weird to be walking around a tiny African village, go into a restaurant, and see a mural of Tupac staring back at you from the wall.

Finally some pictures!

uploading pictures takes forever, but heres a couple so that i finallly have something to show everyone back home! Here you can see the napping during class breaks under a tree in our village, and some of my fellow trainees learning how to fix a bike tire. more soon, hopefully!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Just a quick one....

I've only got a few minutes left on the internet after checking email, so I thought Id let you all know I'm still alive. Three of our group of 37 volunteers have gone home already, which was sad to see but actually has reinforced my resolve that this is something I really want to do, despite all the challenges. Challenges so far have included the heat, the bugs, not speaking French well, and not speaking the local language of Moore at all. But every day is interesting in the village and Im doing well.
Just to give an idea of my daily schedule:

5:30 wake up to the sounds of donkeys and prayer from the mosque next door, and untangle myself from my mousquito net
5:45 take a shower- this means stand in the latrine and use a bucket of water to wash myself
6:30 eat breakfast with my host father in our courtyard while little kids sit around and watch. attempt to speak french with him
8-5 have language class and technical training, usually under a tree in the village with 4 other volunteers and a crowd of kids watching. bike back to my house with kids yelling nasara at me the whole way
5-7pm sit with all the kids in my family compound and attempt to learn Moore, the local language from them; which is usually pretty entertaining. the women (who dont speak french) all laugh at me when i try to greet them
7pm eat dinner with my host father, again with kids watching my every move...women and children generally eat seperately so its just him and I and sometimes a random cousin or uncle that stops by. dinner usually covers topics such as explaining snow to him, or trying to explain why Tupac is dead (his music has made it over here, but not the news that hes not around anymore)
8pm retreat to bed, tuck in my mousquito net and get ready for the next day

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

First I met the king. Then I was adopted by the President.

Im finally here and starting to feel settled in at my new home, which has been quite an adjustment. Advance warning: this is a french keyboard so excuse any typing mistakes...
To begin, the trip here was looooong. several flights followed by a van ride through Ouagadougou to our training site for the first couple days. There were so many incredible things to see as we drove through the city, and i just kept having the so,ewhat idiotic thought "Its just like in the pictures!" Women with babies strapped to their backs, vendors selling everything from mangos to adidas sandals, and hundreds of motos (mopeds). We spent a couple days in Ouga getting immunizations and doing some training before heading to Ouhigouya, where the next 8 weeks of our training will be.
All the other volunteers and I, along with our instructors, went to meet with the King of the region and be greeted by him. He is elderly by Burkina standards, and very dark and leathery, perched in a giant throne with his traditional white robes billowing around him; a pair of aviator sunglasses on his face and a cell phone in his hand. Everything is an interesting blend of American/Western culture with the traditional African way of life. Kids will be walking down the street wearing 50 cent shirt, balancing a huge tub of bananas on their head.
On to my new family! We're split up into groups of ( or so, and shipped out to the surrounding villages around Ouhigouya. After a squishy ride in a van over pitted dirt roads, through small ponds which had formed, and past various livestock in the way, we arrived in my village, where the entire town came out to greet us in a formal adoption ceremony. My father is very sweet and we do our best to communicate in french which is a little tricky considering mine is awful. Here is my journal entry from last night to give you all an idea of what it was like:

Theres so much stuff going through my head right now and all I can think is how surreal this all is. After the adoption ceremony, my parents took me home to their compound, acquiring a huge group of little kids along the way, all staring at me and laughing whenever I made eye contact. My father showed me to my room; which is essentially a small hut/room about 10 square feet with a tiny window. I spent a while setting up my bed and mousquito net, all the while about 15 kids had their faces smushed up against my screen door and window. Eventually dinnertime arrived, and out of respect they fed me by myself, so I peeled cucumbers, cut tomatos (no, i dont like them) and washed lettuce in bleach water with a massive group of people clustered around me watching EVERYTHING I did.

After dinner, I chatted (attempted to) for a while then went to sleep in my sauna of a room. imagine a brick oven. now imagine me in it, loaded up with benadryl and trying to sleep. It was easily 105 degrees, if not more. I was woken up by my mother at 5:30 to ride back to the city for training. More later, but Im running out of internet time now.

A few closing thoughts: I would LOVE letters and care packages so feel free to send stuff! My address is in my last post and things take a few weeks to arrive. My wishlist includes stuff to play with the kids (bubbles, markers, frisbees, etc), powdered drink mix like Crystal Lite (three liters of warm water per day gets boring); purel hand sanitiwer, and various sauce and spice mixes.
Also, for anyone who is curious, I do not have electricity or running water, I "shower" using a bucket of water, and I have to go the bathroom squatting over a hole which I share with the rest of my host family. And they stare and call me Nasara everywhere I go.

Overall, Iùm challenged but amazed and excited about this opportunity and the incredible country of Burkina Faso. Pictures to come soon!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Almost there...

A friend asked me yesterday what I was looking forward to most about the Peace Corps. Her husband jokingly replied that the answer should be "getting there," and I realized that that is exactly what I'm most looking forward to right now. After a summer spent waiting to hear where I would be going, denying the fact that college is over, and trying to savor the relatively cool temperatures of New England, I'm more than ready to start this new adventure.
There's not much else to say at the moment since I'm currently sitting in a hotel in Philadelphia waiting for my two days of training to start before flying to Burkina Faso on Thursday. I anticipate I'll soon have plenty of stories of outrageous temperatures, mosquitoes the size of my fist, and the many ways in which I'll be saving the world but for now its just me waiting for my room at the Holiday Inn to be ready.
Thats all for now, I promise my next post will have a little substance and entertainment!

Also, feel free to send me letters or packages! I know I'll be dying for news from home and would love to hear how everyone is doing. Care packages are nice too, and I'll have a better idea soon of what will be nice to have once I get settled in Africa.

Here is my address for the next three months of training:
Morgan Cole, PCT
S/c Corps de la Paix
01 B.P. 6031
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps