Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gateau...a tasty cake? I think not...

Wow, I can't believe how much has happened in just the few short days since I have written. I am writing this from the cush offices of the Peace Corps in the Burkina capital, Ouagadougou, as I wait until tomorrow for my dentist appointment. Honestly, it couldn't have worked out better for me. I have been staying in the Peace Corps transit house (a hostel for PC Burkina volunteers), eating tons of junk food--ice cream, pizza, cheeseburgers, chocolate shakes--and just hanging out with some of the other volunteers who are in the capital. I am living it up!!! Thank you rotten teeth...that is all I have to say!

I am now OFFICIALLY a Peace Corps Volunteer, and no longer a Peace Corps Stagiare/Trainee. It is such a strange feeling. One minute I was stepping off the plane into the hot Burkina air wondering what the hell I got myself into, and the next minute I am finished with training and I am heading out on my own. How did this happen?!?! It seems to have gone so fast, yet so slow! I am ready to move to my village and start my two years of service, but I can't help but be frightened to death of being alone, lonely, bored, confused, scared, misunderstood, stared at...and a multitude of other emotions. Truly, I have to take everything one day at a time...if I think too far into the future I stress myself out. So, one day at a time...one step at a time...or "baby steps..."

Luckily (and at the same time unforunately) I have my kitten Gateau (French for cake, Spanish for cat). Some volunteers think it is a poor choice for a name since people do eat cats here, and naming your cat a tasty treat doesn't help much...but I say bah humbug. That's right...I adopted a kitten. I couldn't help myself, and for those of you that know me, you know that I have a soft spot for things like that. He is SOOO cute! He is black and grey tiger-striped, and is just the most rambunctious needy little thing ever! He is so adorable, but traveling with him on transport while trying to drag my suitcase and bike, and then having him at the hostel with 10 other people makes it hard. Plus, he seems to like this brown couch on the screened-in porch, and likes to use it as a litter box...not exactly appreciated by the other lodgers in the hostel. I basically run around doing damage control. Hopefully, once I get to site he won't be so antsy. Truly though, I am glad to have him around. He likes to crawl up and sit on my shoulder like a parrot while I walk around doing errands, brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom!! That's right...I have to take him with me, because if I don't he screams bloddy murder outside my door. Oh god, someone help me...I didn't intend to adopt a child! It is endearing, for now anyway!

Before I sign off I want to leave you with a quick little story. I left Ouahigouya and my host family on Friday. I went over to my host family's house to have breakfast with them one last time before I left. So, as I came in to the house the grandmother approached me. This woman is missing most of her teeth, and doesn't speak French all that well (as far as I can tell) so mainly I NEVER understand what she is saying and I just nod my head and say "ya soma" (Moore for "it's good") or "Laafi" (Moore for "It goes well"). Anyway, she shook my hand and placed 200 F.CFA into my palm (equivalent of about .50 cents). I was so shocked, because I know she doesn't work, and I didn't understand why she was giving it to me. I told her thank you and walked into the house to ask my mom about this gift...why? What was the significance? For people that have so little, it makes me uncomfortable to accept monetary gifts...no matter how small. So, my mom told me that it is customary when a grandchild goes o a long trip that the grandmother gives that child a little money to buy bread and some water. Honestly, I almost cried. It seems so insignificant, but at that moment I truly felt accepted by them. They have helped me so much by showing me around, telling me when I make faux pauxs, helping me navigate the marche, buy things, etc. Never once have they been frustrated or dissapointed. They have simply been there...and I can't imagine an America family showing that same hospitality.

It sounds so cliche, but it seems to me that it is the people that have the least that give the most...something I am learning a lot about here. I don't know...just a little food for thought.

So, tomorrow is my appointment with the Burkinabe dentist. Hopefully, all is well and I will ship off to my site on Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Thanks for continuing to read. I don't think I will get to post for a while as I transition into living in the middle of nowhere, a good 35 miles away from internet/electricity/etc. Stay tuned though!

2 comments:

Honi said...

Stephanie,
What a wonderful post, yet again. Wishing you the very best through your transition period into your new home for the next two years.. you will do fantastic of this I have no doubt. Looking forward to the next post!
Love,
Honi

Patrick said...

Congrats on your officiality! (Is that a word?) I was telling my mom about your adventure just the other day and she wanted me to send you her love.

See ya later!
Patrick Ray