Monday, November 06, 2006

The same...but different...and other musings...

Okay…so a lot has happened in the last several days and I have a lot of to write about. So, this entry is going to contain a lot of different things.

Here in Burkina—although during the week I am extremely busy with French and other aimless learning tasks—I have a lot of free time to sit, observe, and people watch…something that I wish I had done more of in the past. One thing that I have learned about things here is that when you boil things down to the essentials…things really are not all that different. Relationships, families, emotions, etc. Yes, the customs differ a bit here than they do from the States, and yes there is definitely more poverty here, but regardless of this fact things are “the same…but different.”

I sat in my courtyard and watched as my brother made fun of my sister as she did her homework…”trop facile” he kept saying, and he would laugh and walk away. He continued to return every few minutes and laugh and poke fun at her. It made me think of the times that my brother, Dave, would do the same thing to me. I don’t know why I noticed it so much, it just seems like such an irony that with all the differences here in living style, poverty levels, etc. that at heart people are exactly the same. It is a very comforting realization for me as I sit on the outside looking in. For me, an obviously white American, there is no way for me to blend in…no matter how hard I try or how long I lay out in the sun. So, at least I can take comfort in the fact that we share at least a few things in common. I think that it may keep me sane while I am here. Hahaha!

Okay…enough with my introspectiveness…

SO, it is official…I have a village, I have a home, I have a job!! YEAH! Here is the
rundown on where I am going to be and what I am going to do.

I am going to be living in a medium-sized village called Banzon. It is in the Southwest of the country…about 60 kilometers from Bobo-Dioulasso (the 2nd largest city in Burkina). When they interviewed me about my desired site I told them that “green” was very important to me…and green is what I got. This is the fruit basket and rice capital of Burkina!! From what I have been told I will have mango and orange trees growing in my backyard!! It sounds so peaceful doesn’t it? There is not a whole lot of information available on the villages of Burkina, but from what I have gathered I will have cell phone service…and I will NOT have running water, electricity, or internet. Sadly, my closest neighbor is a 60k bike ride/transport ride I may get lonely out there. Hopefully I won't start talking to myself. If I can make sure that doesn't happen I will be fine. I will have to bike or take transport into Bobo to get my mail and to use the internet, and hopefully there will be some form of access to charge electronics in my village (i.e. someone with a car battery).

One thing that may surprise you is that this former city girl will be working in Agriculture. That’s right…I will be teaching some of the world’s best farmers how to be better farmers…HAHAHA, yeah right. They also want some help with “elevage” which is animal raising. I know a whole lot about that…NOT! These are just a few of my duties, on top of helping them with petite commerce and marketing for their Shea Butter and Rice. At least I know I will have very soft skin! Hehehe. No, really, I am actually very happy with my village and my assignment. I think in general with the Peace Corps everything is VERY general, and you may not even end up doing what you were assigned to do…so I look forward to making this experience my own.

It is a NEW site, so I will be the first volunteer at this village, and I can’t wait to get there and start fixing up my house. I have GRAND plans of a screened in porch and more. I have been assured that there will be TONS of time to do projects with my house, and to be honest I look forward to a little quiet time. Thus far I haven’t been able to have that, and I think I need a little time to myself to process everything that has been going on here.

So, 4 more weeks of training, including not only mastering the French language, but I will also begin learning a language called, Joule. This is a language that is spoken throughout West Africa…so I am racking it up when it comes to languages…can we say tri/qua-lingual…WOO HOO!

Now I have something to look forward to, and that is a good thing.

Also, some of you will be sad to know that I experienced my first instance of absolute SICKNESS! That’s right..I finally succumbed to the inevitable. We went to the capital, Ouaga, for a couple of days to tour the PC Office, and to check out the largest arts and crafts fair in Africa, SIAO. Well, the first night we decided that we wanted some tasty Chinese Food…good idea??? I think not! The food was amazing (going down), and I had duck curry. Very enjoyable. That is until about 2:30 that morning when my body rejected the wonderful cuisine and I proceeded to throw up and poo for about 6 hours. Now, I know this may be gross for a lot of you, or shocking, but here in Burkina (and I would imagine the Peace Corps in general) it is pretty normal to discuss your bowel movements without embarrassment because once you get here there (a) isn’t much to talk about, and (b) it seems to be the most volatile and changing thing about your body. So, if you are blushing right now just skip down to the next paragraph. Anyway…I continue. So, I proceeded to vomit and poo (at the same time…if you even knew that was possible). Finally, my roommate Erica got the nurse and she gave me some fabulous anti-nausea medication that stopped me from vomiting. Unfortunately, I never made it to SIAO, and spent the rest of the day sleeping and recovering.

It was a sad and hard day for me…but I pushed through and chalked it up to the fact that by deciding to live here I better just embrace the sickness and nausea as a part of the process. All it can do is make me stronger right? Shoot, for those of you that know me and understand my GIGANTIC fear of needles…you will be happy to know that I take ‘em like a champ now…not even a flinch…so even in just 5 weeks here I am stronger than I was when I arrived. Just think how strong I will be when I get back in 27 months.

Alright…well, I have written for way too long, and since I have no internet time and no money to spend I don’t even have time to look back and see if any of this makes sense or is entertaining. Feel free to complain in the comments block below.

Also, for the person that wanted to know the time difference from here to the states…for those of you in the Eastern Time Zone you are 5 hours behind me, and those of you in the Central Time Zone you are 6 hours behind me. I generally keep my phone on me…so call anytime really.

It is now “winter” here, which means 70 degree weather in the morning. This translates into people walking around in GIGANTIC parkas and wool hats…a la Ralphie’s brother in “A Christmas story”…it’s ridiculous. I love it...heated up water for baths…cool air to sleep in…it’s the season!!

Talk soon y’all…stay safe.


Anonymous said...

Oh girl, your blog is so entertaining, I look forward to reading the new one each time you send it over!! Soooo, wondering how the BAPTISM went? For those who didn't get privy info on that, where is the photo of you in the African Dress made especially for you? Good to hear things are getting settled down and at times I feel like I'm there with you!! Oh don't you worry, I'll be there one day soon. Love, MOM

Keri said...

Hi Stephanie. Peg Cim. gave me your blog address. Just wanted to let you know I'll be following your expereinces over there! Rob and I will get you a care pacakge in the mail as soon as I get some stuff gathered up! Hope all is well and stay away from the coclroaches and mosquitoes!!