Friday, February 22, 2008

Who said Africa wasn't exciting???

Hello all! Gosh, what an eventful last few days this has been! I have been preparing for the arrival of my mom, but as we all know at this point, plans in Africa don't always work out like you would like them.

Last week was a whole lot of fun as several of my friends and I came up to Ouaga to play in the SOFANWET (get your mind out of the means Softball Fanatics Weekend Tournament) tournament. I will be the first to admit that softball isn't my strong suit...but I like playing pretty much any sport whether I am good or not. We had about 15 people come up to play, a healthy sized cheering section, cold beer, pizza, sloppy joes, and donuts, so I was in absolute "American" heaven. I ended up being pitcher because, well, my only skill in softball is being able to lob it relatively accurately underhanded...and it seemed more fun then being catcher (plus, there is no way I will put my face near a swinging metal object). Even though we didn't exactly dominate the social bracket of the tournament--between you and me we got our asses kicked by a bunch of 10-14 year olds from the local middle school--we did manage to win 2 out of 4 games, and I think we came in 4th place (out of 6...hehe). Here is a picture of all of us at the end of the tournament:

After our rousing weekend of competitive sporting myself and two of my friends decided we would take a little ride down to Fada N'Gourma for two days to go see the animal parks. With my Mom coming, I wanted to see if it would be worth our while to head down there. Now, I don't consider myself a "rule breaker" by any means. In my entire time here I can only recall breaking cerain rules once or twice, and most of the time on accident. Honestly, we weren't supposed to be down there, and we did so without telling anyone...but this practice of "going under the radar" happens ALL the time without much consequence (since most people don't get caught). We left on Monday afternoon and had planned on being back in village by Friday morning, so considering the distances it wasn't that bad. Off we went on our safari adventure feeling pretty good about everything. We had made it down there in once piece, and we had actually worked out a free safari...pretty good so far! Just on the safari was pretty amazing. I won't lie to you...there is a lot of sitting in the car and driving around without seeing anything except the butt end of an animal running away. However, towards the end of our adventure we started to really see some interesting stuff. We saw an Koba (an antelope-type creature that is as big as a clydesdale), warthogs, gigantic rabbits, baboons, crocodiles, some birds, and of course the largest land animal of all...the elephant (including almost getting charged by one when we drove into the path of ornery elephant trying to eat). It was a really great afternoon, and I was really feeling like, "yeah, now this is the Africa I hear so much about." I didn't have a lot of pics loaded, but he is what I had...keep in mind that most animals didn't exactly stop and smile for the camera!

Here is a picture of a bird, not sure what kind, but this one actually stood still...

Here we found the carcas of a just eaten Koba antelope, 1 hour later some hunters found and killed the lion responsible for this...

We returned from our safari tired, dirty, but satisfied with our little adventure...that was until the most unlikely of things happened. Burkina Faso is generally known for it's peacefulness. Aside from the various coupes during the 70s and early 80s, it has been a model for tranquility and stability. Now, on the one time that I am not at my site and I am "under the radar," the unluckiest thing of all happens...riots. As we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, and we got reception back on our phone, my phone buzzed away. The message read, "STANDFAST, due to demonstrqtions in the Bobo-Dioulasso region all volunteers must report back where they are and stay at site!" Not only did riots go down, but they went down in my regional capital. The jig was up...I had to tell them where we were. All I can say is...BAD TIMING Stephanie. Not only am I caught out of site, but with my mom coming next week?!?! So, now here we sit, ashamed of ourselves for having disobeyed the rules (and ashamed of being caught). We can't go back to our sites, we can't go to Ouaga...we just have to sit and wait to see what happens. Will this escalate into something greater, or will this die down and Burkina goes back to being the tranquil place it has always been? First, I guess I should give you a little background and information to what is going on:

Also, here is an english article from Reuters: (

The price of goods (soap, sugar, cooking oil, gasoline) has been rising dramatically here. In my village I have heard grumblings about this. Evidently, the rumours had been spreading for days that people were going to hold a demonstration to protest the rising cost of living, or in their words, "le vie est chere" (The life is expensive). The demonstrations got a bit out of control and people started burning tires, cars, looting businesses and government offices, and throwing rocks at police. These riots were also held in a town in the northern part of t he country, Ouahigouya, and rumors have been circulating that it occurred in other towns, like Banfora. The riots in Bobo even spread to some residential areas as well. There is also rumors that scheduled demonstrations are going to be held next Thursday.

Now, first off, PLEASE DO NOT WORRY!!!!!! Things are relatively calm, and at no point has anyone been in danger. The Peace Corps is handling things amazingly well, and keeping a watch on the situation. It is just HORRIBLE timing for me and my friends, as well as my Mom. I can't help but laugh at the whole situation really...because in Africa what else can you do? We just sit, and wait, and hope that things don't escalate to something more widespread. For now, we are all safe...and waiting. I hope all is well back home, and I will update you soon. Stay Safe!

1 comment:

NanettePC said...

you are hilarious! i'm sure you guys weren't too worried, considering you don't have a country director;) and you are model volunteers;) i hope you have the best time with your mom!! how exciting. i only wish i could have been there to meet her. another day i guess. the pic of the softball group is priceless. i miss you guys!! heading to uganda in less than 2 weeks. stay tuned for the scoop...