Thursday, May 17, 2007

Let Operation GSCMBSKS Begin

Hello from Ouagadougou...again! I hope everyone is doing well out there. It is, as always, HOT here! Today is Thursday, which means I am a little over 24 hours away from boarding a lush Air France flight on my way to Paris! It doesn't even seem like reality to me...I am so worried that I am going to turn into a Beverly Hillbilly the second that I load the plane. TOILET? There is a toilet? What...I get a choice between chicken or beef? Um...YES, wine please!! "Well, I'll be...kick me over and call me Susy, cause by golly I think them there attendants are gonna play one of them movin' pictures up on that little screen...Yee haw!" Hopefully I can clean enough dirt off me so as not to scare the other passengers. I am still plotting on how I can smoothtalk the flight attendants into letting me sit in business class...coming from village in my ratty clothes I can't certainly rely on my looks for this one...maybe my Burkinabe charm?

Okay, for anyone that knows me, my obsession with Starbucks runs deep. Up to this point I have been Starbucks free for 8 months. I consider the Peace Corps like detox really...forced detox, but whatever. Maybe Britney Spears should consider Peace Corps instead of Promises...anyhoo...after 8 months of instant Nescafe coffee, you can't blame me for wanting to get a decent cup a joe. So, I surfed the internet for quite a while and I have put together an action plan...we'll call it "Operation GSCMBSKS" (Get Stephanie a Caramel Macchiatto Before She Kills Someone). In using Google Earth and any other map program I have discovered that there are 28 Starbucks locations in the Paris, France area. NONE of which, by the way, are in the airport...HELLO!! My flight gets in at 0600 hours, and my connection isn't until 1000 hours. Mike arrives at 0800 hours...which leaves me a 2 hour window to complete the operation. If I can board the metro line to downtown Paris--which is approximately 25 minutes one way--I can hit up one of the 20 that seem to be centered around the Metro Stations. That leaves me enough time to take a glance at the Eiffel Tower, hop back on the Metro, and be there to greet Mike at our connection gate to Israel sipping my Tall (okay, lets be honest, it's probably going to be a VENTE) Skim Caramel Macchiatto. Oh, my mouth is watering on the keyboard right now...I can just smell it. Maybe I should buy a thermos and try to store some for later. Or, now that I have my car battery in my house, I could by an espresso machine for my hut...EUREKA! Okay, well, that is going too far, but it is a nice thought. I think back fondly on my last Starbucks Caramel Macchiato on my way to JFK airport. We stopped at a reststop and I told that barista to make the best damn machchiatto in the world, like his life depended on it. Oh, it was good...and now I am focused on my mission to procure another of those fine sweet delicacies. Oh yes, I shall prevail. Guided by my limited West African french, no knoweledge of the Paris transit system, and a nose that could smell a Starbucks coffee from a 10 mile radius...let's do this! I may be going to Israel, but the hightlight of my trip will be sipping that frothy, warm, sweet beverage...oh it's the small things in life now.

Okay, I don't want to toot my own horn...but bear with me for a minute...because I am glowing. The past couple weeks have been really amazing. As time goes on, I slowly am realizing where I fit my village, in my life, in my own skin. I don't know why it suddenly dawned on me, but I just had one of those moments where everything made sense and I was just content with where I was. I ride through my village and little kids chase after me and call my name, I greet my neighbors every morning on my run, I play soccer every evening with some boys in my village--and I am earning a reputation for my play...I draw crowds...probably not for skill as much as being white and a girl, but whatever. I love sipping my coffee on my porch in the morning, or reading/napping in the afternoon. I have even gotten several projects off the ground, that have thus far proven rather rewarding. I held my first health meeting with the women, and over 70 women showed up! I talked about Malaria, and we held a raffle at the end where I gave away 3 mosquito nets and some mosquito-blocking incense. The women LOVED it, and from what I hear--because of the prize raffle--there are going to be quite a few women there next time. They keep telling me 200, but I will see it when I believe it. Generally, I am opposed to prizes, but since they are topic-related, and the women have to answer relevant questions to win...I think it's fine. It was so satisfying to see that room bursting at the seams. I also started an English Club with the high school kids where I am going to show American movies--Pixar, or other fun kids movies--in English with French subtitles, as well as have meetings and open reading hours...I am sure I can spare some US Weekly's for them to read...HAHA! Relevant English, ya know. Lastly, I held my first meeting with the girls in my village about a Girls Camp, and over 30 girls signed up! I wasn't even expecting 20 at the meeting, but I had over 50!! I really want to work with young girls on their self-esteem and making relevant/wise life choices. I know you are thinking, but Stephanie you are a business volunteer, well that may be, but I have found that my work varies quite a lot, and I am happy to go where it takes me. I am teaching a marketing seminar in at least that is related to my focus. There is no way to determine how these activities are going to turn out, and I won't be happy or on a high every single day in village, but it really feels good to be doing this work. As much as I miss home, family, and friends--and I miss you terribly--things just feel very right...That is the only way I can describe it.

Okay, I am all done being all Mr. Rogers...I just had to get that out. Anyhoo, so village is good, my kitty is good, my health is pretty good, I am about to see Mike for the first time in 8 months, and I am 48 hours away from sipping on a Caramel Macchiatto...there is no way that I couldn't be content right now.

I have finally got my video camera up and running and should have a clip from village of my village women at work. It is amazing, and gives a whole new meaning to whistle while you work. I should have that posted after I get back from Israel...and I hope to continue posting video clips so that you can get some "Day in the Life", STAY TUNED!

Love you guys, and as always, Stay close!

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