Sunday, February 15, 2009

remember me?

so, obviously i've used the internet since the last time i posted anything, but once i send out a mass e-mail and respond to everyone who has written to me, it seems a little redundant to write up a blog post.

so, long story short, if you aren't on my e-mail list, this blog is going to be kind of lame.

since i've written - the last post was for the fete - fada has finally calmed down. thankfully. the last remnants of the ridiculous fete are the bizarre lion statues that are in the middle of the road and in front of the mairie. there might be pictures of vicky and i posing on one of them floating around somewhere. if so, i will definitely be keeping them secret.

work is going slowly but surely. i still have way too much free time on my hands (enough that i've decided to read ulysses). it's hard to think that i will most definitely be getting more out of this experience than my village will (especially since i think it would be better if they had an education volunteer at the lycee instead of a GEE volunteer) but i can only hope that i'll continue to use what i've learned here once i leave and, you know, go to grad school and get a real job and be a grown-up instead of bumming around africa hanging out at a nursery school, holding exam review sessions, and organizing theater activities with older women.

i went to mali with some other volunteers just after christmas and it was great to be able to expand my definition of west africa. from my limited perspective, it seemed like mali has a much better basic infrastructure and the tourism money (both from the tourists and the money the government put in to tourist areas) was evident. i haven't been to any of burkina's (few) tourist highlights yet - banfora or the game parks - but i am going to guess that they are going to be much less developed.

its hard to believe that i've been here for just over eight months and that i'll be going home for a visit in just under five. seriously, if you ever want to know just how much your parents love you, move to africa and see if they'll spring for a plane ticket home.

time is flying by and i bet before i know it it will be time to go home (or to france) for realsies.

weird.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

give me my fada back!

i was in fada this week for the 11 decembre celebrations. its the burkinabe independance day and this is the first time that the official fete has been in a regional capital instead of in ouaga. fada is normally a very quiet, sleepy, chill town but it was crazy with all the fete goings-on. all of the volunteers who live in the east (though there aren't that many of us for security reasons - there are a lot of coupe de routes out here) are eager to see fada go back to normal.

there was a community expo where all the different nationalities and ethnic groups set up a stand. most people were selling things (arts and crafts or food) but we were giving away materials that the embassy had given us. a lot of the information had to do with the election. one of the more popular items was a copy of obamas victory speech translated into french. its pretty cool to think about his speech going out into all these african villages to school children to read. i just hope he follows through and doesn't make us look like idiots.

speaking of obama, we have renamed the states obamaland. we had a life sized cardboard cutout of obama that everyone wanted to take pictures of. we also bought obama t-shirts that someone was selling. mine is marigold (not the best color for either my or barack's complexion) with a picture of his face on it and it says "barack obama, yes we can." people will just randomly say his name or "yes, we can" to us all the time. its is pretty cool to think that for some of these people "yes, we can" is just about the only english they know.

we also marched in the parade (which involved standing in the sun for five hours so that we could maybe march for 20 minutes). we wore ridiculous looking outfits made from the official pagnes - our shirt was the color of a manilla envelope...not exactly the best color for whities. blaise, burkina's president, drove past to greet us and waved back to us during the parade.

burkinabe take parades very seriously. we had official parade marching practice where we were given lessons by the military. we tried to explain that in the states, parades involve waving and throwing candy and fire trucks and maybe some floats, but they were having none of it. people went nuts when we walked by - we got complimented on our marching skills, there were the requisite obama exclamations, some faux type-y guys yelled "i love you," etc. we were on television and there were official press photographers. we got texts from other volunteers saying they had seen us on television and random people stopped us in town to say that they had seen us.

the fete is now over and i am headed back to village tomorrow. hanging out in fada has been a lot of fun...maybe too much - it felt a little like i was back in college again. i am really looking forward to village but it feels like i've been gone for so long that i've forgotten how to be in village.

i'll be in village for a few weeks and then i am away again on a trip to mali just after christmas. cheers everyone and happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

direct to you from wagga-do-goo!

not much new in village...apart from the time i went into fada to send in my etude de milieu and almost got stranded in the bush for the night.

normally i bike in to town but as i was only planning on going in for the morning to send in my report i took a bush taxi. my normal half hour wait on the side of the goudron ended up taking three hours and just before i actually got in to fada, we were stopped at the peage because the driver of another bus had forged some papers. so after spending the entire morning trying to get to fada, i typed up my report and went to the alimentation to pick up some tuna and the best peanuts in burkina.

i had planned to observe the cp2 class at my primary school that afternoon but i was hoping that i would at least be able to get back before the end of the school day to explain where i had been. after the requisite 45 minute wait, my new bush taxi started to leave town, only to take a "short cut" through the bush so that they didn't have to pay at the peage, which would have been a good idea...if only we hadn't busted a tire half an hour outside of town.

i thought that i was actually going to have to spend the night in the bush, but luckily some guy showed up on a bike with another tire after like an hour and a half.

so after leaving my house at 7:00 am, i made it back just before 8:00 at night.

i'm in ouaga for the gad meeting until sunday, then i'll go back to fada, and then head up to titao for thanksgiving at the rose's after which i have ist in ouaga...again. i hope my village doesn't forget who i am.

ouaga is nice, especially if you've been in village for a while, but it overwhelmes and overstimulates me. having electricity messes up my new body rhythm. normally in village i'm in bed by 8:30 or 9:00, or at least reading in bed, and i'm up by 5:30. when i'm in ouaga i'm usually up until about 2:00 am...but i still wake up by 6:00. last night we went to paradisio for dinner since it was josh's (another pcv) last night before he cos'd and flies back to america and then we went for beers at rezoo after. when we got back to the house, it was around midnight, but i couldn't fall asleep so i just laid in bed until around 2:00 and then was up again by 6:30.

i should quit whining since i go to take a hot shower and i'll probably eat a cheeseburger for dinner.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

i will be watching "waiting for guffman" tonight!

so, i'm sick. not really sick, not sick enough that i thought i needed to call the pcmo, until... but i'm getting ahead of myself.

i woke up tuesday night in village on my lit pico ( i never sleep in my bed, the cot is at least ten degrees cooler, if you don't mind all the weird marks the ropes leave on your skin) with a low grade fever and general feelings of crappiness. i took some aspirin and one of the vicodin that were left over from when i had my wisdom teeth out way back in seattle.

wednesday was okay, thursday was kind of crappy (i was too tired to chat with my neighbors at night -it's become a ritual- so they were a little concerned), friday i had fevers fluctuating from 95 to just under 103 degrees.

at first i thought maybe it was the flu, but no nausea or diarrhea (i must be one of the only pcvs who can attest to that), then i thought maybe malaria. i was planning on sending a malaria slide to ouaga on transport on monday if it hadn't gotten better.

that is, until i escaped village on a bush taxi to sit in the air-conditioned post so that my brain wouldn't boil and saw another pcv. he said that he had had the same symptoms and asked if my hands and/or feet were peeling. coincidentally, the bottoms of my feet had been peeling but i had thought nothing of it.

he had what is called kawasaki's disease and it can apparently cause aneurysms in some people. so i called sylvie and she told me to get on the next transport (the 7:00 stmb from fada, which made the trip in just under an impossible two and a half hours - the driver must have been going at the speed of light) and come to ouaga.

i'm sitting in the bureau, typing on an english keyboard for the first time in months (all of my a's want to be q's) with a negative malaria test to my name. i'm just waiting on the lab results. even if i do have kawasaki's disease, it doesn't sound that serious (i just have to start an aspirin regimen).

so for tonight, i'll be ordering dinner from the iso (cheeseburgers are a distinct possibility) and watching old episodes of the daily show on vhs.

good times, good times.

if only i hadn't already planned a trip to ouaga a week and a half from now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

i have successfully avoided holding babies in burkina faso thus far...

but only by pretending i think they are cute. i like to think that this is a preventative measure and therefore a worthwhile compromise.


so, i did laundry and got rid of the trash in my house. in america, that would maybe take two hours and not be such a big deal, but in burkina faso, it took about two days and everyone in village was amazed that i did it myself.


laundry involves going to the pump three or four times and luging 25 litres of water back to my house on my bike. then i have to swish clothes around in water and detergent (think of the "cheer up charlie" scene in willy wonka and the chocolate factory) until the water is dirty and my clothes at least smell clean and then rinsing (or swishing again) them in cleaner and slightly less soapy water. the last step, involves hanging my clothes up to dry and then hanging around to watch them (in burkina we don't watch paint dry, we watch clothes dry) so they don't fall off the line into dirt.

getting rid of trash is an even bigger pain. there isn't a landfill or dump, so you have to sort through everything to see what can be burnt and what can't. the stuff that can't be burnt, i either have to get rid of (little kids will take just about anything from you - empty bottles, old pens and pencils, etc.), which usually means throwing it down the latrine, for lack of a better option. i've tried not to throw anything too bad down there, in case the latrine ever gets used for fertilizer in the future. that means that i have a ziploc bag full of batteries that i have absolutely no idea what to do with. i'm hoping that i can take them into ouaga at some point and the bureau will have started a programme to recycle batteries.

i almost started a small brush fire last week when i lit my burnable trash on fire. i'm thinking it light be a good idea to burn it directly over my latrine next time. but i cheated today and took the small plastic bag of trash that i accumulated in the past week and brought it into fada with me.

living in burkina makes you hyper-aware of the resources you use. i used about 50 liters of water in the past week for bathing, drinking, cooking, and washing dishes (not including doing laundry, but that would probably double it) and have a smal bag of trash that can't be burned.i don't think that i will have access to electricity in my new house, but i will be able to recharge my phone and ipod with my solio charger (thanks dad!). i read at night by candle light, though i am usually in bed by 8-8:30, since that means it will have already been dark for about two hours.

fada this weekend and then hopefully school will have started with a vengeance so i will actually have work to do.

i should be in ouaga withing the next two weeks to see the pcmo, so pictures soon!

Friday, September 12, 2008

a bila te?

or how's the fam in gulmanchema, my new local language of choice.

so, training is over and i am officially a peace corps volunteer. not that that means i've done any work yet. our first three months at site we're just supposed to integrate into the community and meet people. very tough.

i've left the north and now live in a little village near the eastern city of fada n'gourma. i'm pretty close to benin, togo, and niger and the game parks so i should be able to do some pretty great traveling and hopefully fulfill my goal of feeding a baby lion from a bottle.

its a little weird that my first house of my own is a two room mud and cement house in burkina faso and i've come to realize that living on your own is lonlier than i would have expected it to be. school hasn't started in burkina yet and it is still the cultivating season so there aren't that many people around and all of the neighbors in my courtyard are funstionaires and haven't come back to village yet.

i took my first bush taxi today, which was an experience to say the least. i enjoyed it, although that was probably because it was a short trip. i don't know that i would have liked spending hours in a VW van with about twenty other people, especially since it was raining and none of the doors actually shut.

so, some random new things about me that have changed since being in burkina:
  • i eat meat (whenever i can and a lot of it)
  • i can change bike tires
  • i am (or at least i was) a princess in my host village in the north
  • i pump my own water
  • i go to bed by 9 and get up at 5
  • i am very tan
  • my hair is turning blonde and is falling out at an alarming rate

well, that's it for now. i'll try to post pictures the next time i make it into ouaga.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

when the future's architectured by a carnival of idiots on show

soooo, its been over a year.

i spent the summer in boston volunteering at the living center (a community center for people living with hiv/aids) and then came home to chill out and plan activities with kensey -apple picking and antiquing, anyone?

then i moved out to seattle for six months to hang out with lynne and worked at a homeless shelter (hi johnny! hi liz!).

tomorrow morning, i'm leaving for philadelphia and then burkina faso since the peace corps decided to get it's shit together and give me a project.

i seem to only use this blog when i'm leaving the country so look out for danielle's foreign escapades (title of my future show on the travel channel?) version 2.0.

maybe i'll post a picture of my mud hut for you all.

if you're lucky.