Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rat de Brousse...A Burkina Delicacy...

WOW!! Back so soon! I know, I know…I just couldn’t stay away from you for that long. Actually, I came into town because one of the other volunteers in my region is “ET-ing,” something that isn’t all that rare in the Peace Corps (30% of all Peace Corps volunteers do it). What is it? Well, it is called “Early Termination” and that is when someone decides to go home…early. So, she was with my group that just arrived here, and she decided that it wasn’t for her, and she is heading back to the states on Wednesday. I am a little bit jealous thinking of her eating sushi dinners and showering a real bathroom, but I am not quite ready to pack my bags yet and head back. Honestly, I have no idea if I will make it here the whole two years, I wouldn’t even begin to try and guess, and I am just taking everything one day at a time. I know that I am pretty happy with being here, even if I miss my family and friends terribly, and when I am ready to go—whether that be at the end of two years or next month—then I will know it and I will have no regrets. Sorry to be all serious on you, but all this heading home stuff has really got me thinking about it…and I thought I would share with you. Okay…enough of that.

So, this week flew by so fast thanks to a little visit from my friend Nanette. That’s right…she felt so guilty for crushing me over New Year’s that she decided to visit Banzon. So, we headed back on transport together last Sunday when I was in town. The transport alone was memorable enough. I have begun to realize on Sunday’s that if the drivers of the large buses don’t feel like driving the route between Banzon and Bobo, well then they just don’t. So, as we stood waiting for a bus to pull up we realized that it was never coming. Our only option was this PETITE little Jed-Clampett truck with a little hood over the bed, and a rack on top. It looked like a toy wind-up car…but oh no…it was our ride home.

Here is a picture courtesy of Nanette:

Luckily, being foreign has some perks so we got to ride up in the cab with the driver and about 6 bottles of water that we had to continually pour on the engine every 30 minutes or so. Honestly, I feel like I could have jogged back to Banzon quicker. This poor little vehicle loaded down with about 15 people in the back and the three of us in the front looked like it wouldn’t even make it 5 feet, and a couple of times people had to get out and give it a helping hand. But, after much pushing and engine-inspecting by multiple people we were off. Aside from an odd naked lady accident, the trip went just fine. Naked lady incident you ask? Would you like to hear more? Every village has a few of what they call “foo’s.” It is the African name for anyone that is a bit crazy. Generally they are homeless, although in Africa there isn’t really homelessness because anyone would open their house for these people to stay in and offer them food to eat. But, during the day they wander around and ask for money, yell, rant (one even handed me a razor and asked that I cut my hair….wierd!), etc. As soon as our ramshackle vehicle pulled up to this down, and I saw the woman in reference, I knew exactly where we were. An old women with a TEENY loin cloth on and nothing else was sleeping on the side of the road. I looked at Nanette and instantly knew where we were and who she was, and when Nanette caught a glimpse of her she about fell out of the car. The woman had gotten up—when foreigners are around there is money to be begged for—and was approaching the car. She is probably in her 70s and her boobs were hanging down below her belly-button, and I know that I shouldn’t have looked but it’s kind of like a traffic accident. You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help yourself. She came over to the car and begged us for money, but all I had was the money for transport and a bag of bread…so I gave her some bread. Poor Nanette was sitting in the chair red-faced, and just couldn’t believe what was happening. Oh the joys of traveling to my village. Come on people…who wants to come next? I know you want to see the crazy naked lady, the chickens, and everything else.

Anyway, we arrived in my village just fine, and if one foreigner living there didn’t cause enough attention, well two did it. The village is just about used to seeing me around, and it is becoming less and less of a novelty, but with Nanette there once again the large staring crowds and trail of children commenced again. It was entirely worth it though, because I got the utter joy of speaking English around people when they couldn’t understand…finally they know how it feels when they talk about me in Moore/Joula and I have no idea what they are saying. We had a really great time…we went running, biked through the rice fields/mango groves, baked a chocolate cake, drank a lot of beer with the Majore (the head nurse/doctor at the government health clinic), ate Bush Rat—Rat de Brousse (it sounds so much better in French) and the time flew by. Did you do a double take there? Yes, Nanette and I ate Bush Rat which is basically a rodent that lives in the woods, about the size of a beaver maybe or a really large squirrel. It is a delicacy here, and aside from having to see the little claws still attached, it was really good. I know what you are thinking…GROSS…but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

After she left things got back to normal. I read, and ran, and read some more, did some Sudoku...and I am getting paid for this. Granted its $240/month, but here that makes me rich. Thank you tax-paying Americans! One very interesting development in my village has been the emergence of camels. That's right, camels...animals of the desert. Every year the Peuhl/Fulani desert people ride their camels to the South of Burkina and just ask for money along the way. Well, I didn't have my camera or money at the time, but when I get back to village I am paying some money and I am going to ride that freaking camel! They are SO big! It was really neat, and he only spit on me a few times...hehe! I can't wait to send pictures of that.

Now, I don't know what kind of weather you are experiencing back in the States, but right now I am experiencing probably the best that Burkina has to offer. It goes down to about 13 degrees Celsius (55 F) at night, but up to about 80's-90's during the day. It is absolutely perfect. Yet, I feel like I am in a perpetual "Sunday." You know what I mean...Saturday is great because you know you have Sunday to look forward to, but Sunday sucks because you know you have to go into work the next you never really enjoy Sunday because you are thinking about Monday. I am about to make sense...I swear. All I hear is about how BLAZING hot it is going to be in we are talking upwards of 47 degrees Celsius folks (117 F). WHAT?!?! So, while I enjoy this lovely weather that we are having now...this is not the norm...and all I do is dread the day when I wake up and it's blazing hot...I am just waiting for the floor to drop out. I am trying to enjoy the weather...but I am stuck in a perpetual Sunday dreading Monday...except my "Monday" is 6 months of BLAZING BURNING SCORCHING UNBEARABLE SOMEONE GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE heat from Hell. That's right, the devil is setting up shop next door and I will be living in Hell until next December when the "winter" comes. It can only make me stronger...right?

Anyway, I gotta run and catch my lovely transport back to times. I hope all of you are well, and you should start planning your trips to see me!!! Come on people...bush rat, naked old ladies, dead chickens, insane is a very attractive offer. See you all soon!

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