Through the marvels of my Worldspace Satellite radio I feel like I haven't missed a beat on what has been going on back home. Hillary conceded her presidential campaign, China is recovering from earthquakes, and American idol ended. Of course it seems the biggest news of late has been the release of the "Sex and the City" film. I have to be honest, when I learned of the prospect of this movie I kinda thought to myself..."OH NO, BAD IDEA!" Yet, from what I hear the movie is pretty good. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, or really anyone on Sex and the City, I have NEVER been considered a fashionable or fashion-concious person. I am like Andy, the main character from "Devil Wears Prada." I care enough about my appearance not to want to look like crap...just not enough to spend the money and time to not look like crap. Honestly, just like in the movie...my idea of couture is shopping at Club Monaco and Banana Republic. Yeah...I'll admit it...I am still wearing clothes that I had in high school (yep Mom, those khaki shorts you hate and tried to throw away...I found 'em and I still got 'em!). Maybe what my style would be considered is classic chic, or not even chic...just classic. Anyway, as I have recently learned however, I am on the breaking cusp of fashion in Banzon, Burkina Faso. Oh yes, ladies and gentleman, I am a fashion icon to the over 4,000 women that live in my African village. I broke the taboo of women wearing pants, and watch out because the baby doll T-shirt trend is catching like wildfire. Most recently, I have started a run on a brand of flip-flop. I was recently browsing at my friend's boutique for a new pair of shower sandals. I saw a cute bright pink pair. In the United States I wouldn't be caught dead in these, but after 2 years living in the African bush, they kind of appealed to me. In going to purchase them he told me, "you don't want those, they won't last." Of course, I ignore him thinking, "well, I only have a month left so as long as they can last that long." I put on my new purchase and go strolling through the market to give my greetings to the various ladies that I hang out with. Along the way I get a variety of comments on my flip-fops. The next day I go back to Lucienne and I show him the shoes--after one day of wearing them they were already breaking apart. "I told you that would happen," he says. Once again I am humbled by his knowledge and my stubbornness to never listen. He then tells me that just that morning 4 women had approached him and asked for the same shoes as the "toubabou" (white lady) was wearing. He told them that they wouldn't last, and not to waste their money, but they insisted on getting the shoes. WOW...in one day I incited a run on hot pink rubber flip flops! I feel like a real trendsetter already! Once again, my celebrity status stuns me...I feel like Paris Hilton, except without millions of dollars and a sex tape on the internet. Hmmm...will my trendsetting ways continue back in the US....maybe my return to the US will cause a huge run on african pagne complets. We'll see now won't we...maybe I will turn up on the catwalks at NYC Fashion week next year. Just to give you a sampling of some trends...here is a pic of my rockin' new flips, and a picture of me in a pagne complet. If we get the word out now we might start the trend before I even get back.
Aren't you just green with jealousy?! You can only dream of having one of these outfits.
Outside of my busy schedule or club-hopping, trendsetting, and being a village socialite, things here have been just as busy as always. I am trying to eek every bit of experience that I can out of being here before I ship off back to the United States in July. I am currently conducting a 4-week long Girl's Empowerment Camp with 12 local middle school girls--a project that I did last year as well. We are working on projects in the fields of health and commerce, and although we got off to a rocky start, things seem to be going really well. It's difficult here because the girls are always so shy and afraid to speak, and it can take what seems like an eternity to get them to voice themselves. I was really impressed in the last few days as we broached some pretty "taboo" topics such as female excision (the cutting of the clitoris...sorry for such a raw usage of genital vocabulary, but that is what they do to 90% of women here), birth control, sex, and HIV/AIDS. I was so proud to see them getting really involved and engaged in the topics, and asking tons of questions to the nurse (a male nurse no less...of whom I pleasantly declined a male condom demonstration...hah!). For the business group we are currently working on marketing, accounting, and feasability studies for businesses. My hope is that they open a pizza parlor (oohh...maybe a Domino's chain)...but more than likely it will be some fruit-filled dough thing...oh well, a girl can dream can't she.
I will be finishing up with that in the next few weeks, and then it is just a few days before I pack my bags and head off to Morocco and then the United States. I can not tell you how hard it is for me to imagine my life back in America. For so long my reality has been pooping in a hole, bathing with a bucket and a cup, shopping in open air farmers markets, riding my bike everywhere, wearing stinky nasty clothes (and being okay with it), reading by candlelight, sleeping under a mosquito net, running through mango groves, and so much more. And, all that is about to change in such a dramatic way...and aside from a possible visit, I can not go back to this life that I have made here. That is something, that as my time here dwindles, I am feeling more and more nostalgic about. I look at landscapes or people and I have to close my eyes and try to record that image for later. I want to drink it all in, and be able to draw upon it when I am at my most frustrated in America. What did it look like...What did it smell like (yeah...even the bad smells)...how can you hold that all inside of you forever.
Anyways, enough of that sad talk. I am hanging out here with some of my rockin' neighbors Leslie and Audrey, and we are getting some much needed rest from being in village. I am just going to enjoy my last few weeks here. Hope you are all well...see you soon...and as always, stay safe!