My backyard...jealous yet?
Originally uploaded by GRITS in Burkina.
Things have been going pretty well since I last talked...no more gigantic roach colonies in the bathroom, thank goodness. I have had a few in my house, but the cat promptly gobbles them up...good kitty. I am headed to the capital to attend the FESPACO Film Festival...the largest film festival in Africa! I am SOOOO excited, I can not even tell you! It is going to be amazing. It will also be great to see some of the other volunteers that I haven't seen in the last few months. And, how could I forget...but YEAH ice cream and pizza! By the time I get back I will deserve the "Stephanie, tu devien grosse" comment...and you know what...that's okay because it will all have been worth it! Hah!
I have been helping out at the English college in my town...no, not what you would think of a college. A college here is the equivalent of a middle school in the States, except the students are anywhere from 12-17 years old. Kids kind of attend school off and on depending on if their parents can afford it that year or not. Anyway, it has been great, and truly it is a little selfish on my part because I really like to go talk to the English teacher...he is the only man in village who speaks English and he is only in village on Saturdays. Anyway, I pull up to the school on my bike to find the entire class (of over 115 kids) crouched on their knees in the gravel under the hot sun. Let me tell you, this sun is SUPER strong and we are talking about 100+ degrees at this point. Anyway, when I ask the teacher why they are out their he simply says..."oh..punishment." There is no explanation as to what kind of punishment...but I think they might have been talking to loud. Who knows! To anyone that complains about their class size teachers...put a cork in it. There were about 150 kids smashed into this teeny school room sitting on benches. 15 of the 150 actually had the English textbook, so the teacher had to write the exercises on the board. I was really blown away. It is so hard to comprehend, coming from the American education system, that the government can't provide the school with books to loan out to the students. I remember every school year getting my new/slightly used book and writing my name on the inside...and it was mine. These kids here, they can't do that. It really motivated me to try and do something like a fundraiser to raise money to buy loaner books for the whole school.
Anyway, enough Debby Downer attitude. I have a GREAT story to tell you. My friend Veronica...yeah the same girl with the roach-infested bathroom...came to my village to visit, and we decided that we would bike the 55k (roughly 30+ miles) to her village. The route between my village and hers isn't even on a map. It is just a dirt path, so wider than a couple feet, and little did we know that it would splitabout 10 times. Luckly, I had my handy dandy compass--well, we had it...I didn't say I knew how to use it. So, we packed our stuff and headed out. Little did I know that we would be riding across a freaking beach for 3 hours. Yeah, I thought I didn' live in the desert but I was all wrong! Have you ever tried biking across sand? It's HARD! By the time we reached our first stop, a town called Djigouera--only 30k on our 55k journey I thought I would die. But, it was too late to turn around at that point. We stopped in Djigouera to get a cold coke and have bite to eat, but little did we know that we would meet a very friendly, very strange, Liberian hooker. Yes, you heard me right...a Liberian hooker. Her name escapes me now...so let's just call her Jade. Why Jade? I don't know...it was the first name that came to my head. Wait, I'll do one better..how do you construct your hooker name again? First pets name and your street name? Okay, so we will call her Buffy Dovercliff...or Buffie for short.
Anyhoo, I digress. Back to Buffy the hooker. So, we pull in and she immediately comes up. It's a given that she has no bra and that her boobs hang WAY below her elbows...but I just wanted to give you a visual. She was actually very manly looking, and if not for the breasts I might have thought her a man. To even begin to describe the way she talked would be impossible, but as soon as she found out we were American she began to speak her completely unintelligible English. And, she absolutely had to add "man" at the end of every sentence. She tells us how she fled Liberia because of the war, and starts to tell us she was a prostitute...but because this part was in French I didn't exactly understand. I am sitting here thinking she is telling an entrepeneurial success story about how she fled Liberia to open up her own bar...but Veronica is looking at me really weird. So, I ask her to explain again and she says, "No, Oui, moi, je vende mon corps...personalmente." (No, i sell my body!") So, it suddenly dawns on me...OHHHHH....Eureka. She continues to elaborate and say, "tu comprend? No, to ne comprends pas." (do you understand? No, I don't think you understand). My face is beet red, and she is just starting at me...hello... AWKWARD! Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of there pretty quickly before she charged us for the conversation. Very odd...meeting a Liberian hooker on a village road. I never had it on a list of things to do before I died, but I gotta say it was pretty interesting.
I am writing you this email, so it is obvious that I survived our ride...but, just barely. By the time I made it to her village I was completely delirious. I could barely even walk...and I don't even need to tell you what my butt felt like. I won't be doing that for a while.
Well, I have written much more than I thought and I gotta run and get ready to head out. Thanks for all of the packages and support...again and again, I couldn't do it without you! Stay safe and stay close!