Upon returning to Banzon I was pleasantly surprised to find that my house had not turned in to a mouse/rat kingdom, my cat was alive and still had working use of both eyes, and that for the most part things were in tact. My bike had a couple of dings on it that I don't remember inflicting...and it looked extraordinarily clean--I don't know if I cleaned it with my mind from America or if the small child in my courtyard decided to take it for a test-drive, wrecked it, and then cleaned it thinking I wouldn't notice. Either way, it still works and isn't much worse for the wear considering all the things I have done to it. Also, much to my delight, I encountered a gigantic spiderweb over the doorway to my room that spelled out, "Bienvenue!" and a pig named Wilbur sat cheerily underneath as a welcome home present...yeah dinner! Okay...if any of you are believing what I just typed...man you are gullible. Spiders can't speak French! Slowly people started trickling over to greet me, welcome me home, and demand for their gift from America. Oh gosh, really, you missed me that much...thanks! As it turns out, most people in the village, after my prolonged absence--2 months--thought that I was never coming back. I guess I am just lucky that they didn't loot my house. My house was cleaner than I could have hoped for, and luckily I was not kept awake by mice and roaches in the middle of the night....it's all a girl can ask for really.
The next morning, as the family gathers in the courtyard, I gave them their presents from America. My host dad, thanks to the oh so lovely department store of "Mom's Closet," received a lovely fleece jacket to keep him warm and toasty during those cold 70-degree nights of winter. I gave my host mom a lovely earring/necklace set and a Mercedes Marathon long-sleeve t-shirt. To the kids I gave each of them a pair of Adidas soccer shorts and some toys I found at the Dollar Store--love that place--including bubbles and stickers. I had intended, when gifting the Hot Wheels stickers to the eldest Ali, that he would use them. And us them he did...after he marveled at the sports car stickers, he ran away excitedly to decorate his bike with them. Oh, he has the sweetest ride in Banzon now! However, later that day as I was relaxing at my counterparts boutique, I noticed something. He had taken some of the stickers from his son--this is a grown man mind you--and decorated his entire scooter with Hot Wheels stickers. Can you imagine in American if a 45 year-old man decided to stick Hot Wheels stickers all over his car? Oh yes...so now both he and his 11 year-old son are sporting the coolest Hot Wheels stickers around.
After two-months away from village living--including exclusive access to a real toilet, a shower, and electricity--I found adjusting to be harder than I would have imagined. You would think most of the skills I acquired in village--mainly, my keen ability to pee/pooh into a hole the size of a softball and never get it on the floor or on myself--would come back to me quickly if not instantly. Well, let me tell you folks, that peeing in a small hole takes practice, and it isn't like riding a bike. For the entire week I can not even tell you how often I peed on the floor and on myself. Okay, I know you are making a grossed out face right now, or laughing, or both...but I am just being upfront and honest with you in an effort to show everything about my life here. The way I figure it, if you have been reading my blog from the beginning then you all know that this is nothing compared to things I have described before. It took me my entire time in village to finally remember what proper foot placements and positions my body needed to be in to accurately get everything on target. Peeing in a hole....harder than you think (especially for us girls). If you don't believe me then go outside right now and give it a whirl. If all goes well, in February my mom and her friend Audrie will get to learn first-hand about the difficulty of doing just this thing! Aside from my peeing incidents things in village are pretty boring at the moment. It is the holiday season--Tabaski, Christmas, and New Year's--so people aren't all that motivated to do anything but party and drink. So, that left me with a whole lot of time, and a whole lot of nothin' to do. After a week of sitting around and sleeping, I left village for the Christmas celebration.
A fellow volunteer, Leslie, was having the festivities in her small village of Kangala...which is even smaller and more remote than my village. Woo hoo! Thanks to some creative improvising we fashioned ourselves a Christmas tree, played Christmas carols--really we only had one Christmas song on our iPod, so we just played Akon and Harry Connick Jr.--and ate a whole lot. I brought some goodies from hom including seaweed paper, canned tuna, canned beef, Fresh Market Christmas Blend coffee, coffee mate, and so much more. The first night we dined on tuna sushi rolls...complete with wooden chopsticks that I stole from the grocery store. The next night, we had 6 chickens "sent off to pasture" so that we could celebrate in style with mashed potatoes, and a green-bean casserole--complete with cream of mushroom soup made from scratch and fried onions. The weekend was made complete by another volunteers supply of a GIGANTIC Pepperidge Farm "Yard of Beef" stick....mmmmmm!!! It was quite a weekend full of Christmas carolling, dancing, and present opening. In spite of the limiting selection of Christmas gifts available to us, I received green tea (thanks Meghann), single packets of Biore face wash (thanks Vero and your mom), a lighter that lights up multi-color when you push the button, a half-used canister of dry foot lotion (thanks Leslie), 3 Burkinabe Batteries (thanks Radhika), and a packet of tissues. It was quite a wonderful and festive event, and I couldn't be happier about my gifts. After our festivities at Leslie's we moved on to Audrie's village to continue the holiday--Pig Roast. Audrie's village, Mahon, is only 9 kilometers away, and thanks to my poor planning I didn't have a bike to get there. So, in a moment of insanity, I said that I would just run there. After my weekend of attempting to eat an entire "Yard of Beef" among all the other food that I indulged in, it probably wasn't such a good idea. It took me longer than I would have liked, but I finally arrived at the pig roast ravenous and feeling pretty good about digging into the 100-pound pig that we had selected to dine on. It ended up being about 8 of us Peace Corps volunteers and 30 or so villagers. We drank a lot of palm wine, drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of pork, and sang as many Christmas Carols as we could remember. It was a pretty fun time!
Now I am back in Bobo ready to head back to village to celebrate the passing into 2008! Can you believe it?!?! It has been over one year since I left America to come to Burkina, and here we are turning over to '08. The year that I will come home from the Peace Corps, the year that my sis will graduate college, and more importantly the year that we say goodbye to George Bush! Thank goodness!
I can only hope that you all have had as fun and an eventful Christmas holiday as myself, and I hope that your New Year's is wonderful as well. It's back to village I go...take care and stay close!