Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Picture Goodness

Thanksgiving was fabulous, complete with turkeys and stuffing. No cranberry sauce but somehow we made do. Here is the whole group of us that are living with host families in Rikou, along with our language trainer Yvette. A little sad to be leaving soon, but cant wait to get to my site in a couple weeks! New address to come soon...Me and my little brother Nuru. I love him and want to take him with me to Tin.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It finally happened...

I knew it was coming, but kept hoping I could avoid it...but no, I finally droppped my flashlight down the latrine. I peered down the 15 ft hole in the ground and could see the light faintly flickering away before dying out completely. Another possession lost to the evil latrine, alas.
In happier news, Thanksgiving is coming up and we're planning a big dinner as close to the American tradition as possible. Its a little tricky in a country without cranberries or apple pie, but I think it should turn out pretty well. My group is in charge of stuffing, and considering bread goes stale here in about 20 minutes, getting breadcrumbs to make it from scratch shouldnt be too difficult.
The longer I am here though, the more I realize I'm really going to miss my host family when I leave at the end of training to go to my permanent site. My mother and father are incredible and have made my time here so much easier than it would have been otherwise. My little sister and girl cousins and I had a little dancing session the other night, frolicking around my courtyard in the lamplight while they sang. Its amazing how much you can communicate wiithout actually speaking the same language. Now of course after the flashlight incident, they think I'm an idiot, but they've been nice enough to only laugh at me a little bit for it.I managed to take this picture while I was biking, so ignore the slight blurriness. Women here carry everything on their heads, its very impressive. I can now manage a bucket of water, but thats about it, and these ladies will have anything from their lunches to a 30 lbs saxk of rice perched on top of their heads, and walk miles like that.
This is part of the road between my home village of Rikou and the larger city of Ouhigouya where we have class sometimes. When we first arrived, this section was entirely flooded about thigh deep at points and fording it was a little too exciting. Now its mostly just muddy...
Mom requested more pics of me, so here you go. behind me is the booming metropolis of Rikou.
The mosque in Rikou, right next to my house.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Congratulations, you are going to...TIN!

Mixing up some banana bread with my fellow volunteers in Rikou. You'd be surprised what you can cook in a pot over a fire. Notice how dirty I am, this is a pretty typical state to be in....
For the last 5 weeks, I have been living in my host village of Rikou, just outside of the city of Ouhigouya, where we bike to for classes and other necessities of life such as cold drinks and electricity. Up until now, we hadn't been told where our individual sites were going to be....but now, all that has changed and at the end of training I will be moving to my new home in Tin, Burkina Faso!
Tin is a small village with a population of about 1300 people, located in the south-western part of Burkina. Their primary source of income is agriculture, specifically mangos, so I'll be eating plenty of those for the next couple years. Apparently cashews as well. Its a good thing theres a lot of them, since there is no market in the village at all, and I'll have to bike about 13 kilometers to the nearest village that has a market as well as a telecenter. Should be interesting during the rainy season...
The biggest city near me is Bobo, about an hour and a half away by bush taxi, and I'm told thats a pretty hoppin' place, by Burkinabe standards. My house in Tin is part of a family's compound, so I'll have plenty of people to keep me company and introduce me around the village once I get there. Also, I hear theres an orange tree in my courtyard, yummy. The main language spoken in the region is Jula, so I've started classes in that, and am continuing french as well. Its a bit daunting, I wont lie.
In other news, we spent a night in the capital city of Ouga, which is quite exciting. There's semi-american food (at least things other than to and benga, staple foods here in burkina), a pool at the hotel, and even nightclubs that will play American music if we ask the DJ nicely. Pretty much, its a very welcome break from village life, though I was happy to get back to my host family after a few nights away. I consider myself just about fully integrated into the community (ha) since I'm now able to carry water on my head from the village pump, name a few things in their native language of Moore, and they all know my name now and have mostly stopped calling me Nasara all the time (meaning white person).

Finally, thanks so much to the people who have sent me packages and letters! A few finally arrived, and completely made my day.
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