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!!