Big Up from Aribinda

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Village Life and Such

Hey hey hey, what's going on? Nothing much in Ouahigouya, just relaxing on a Saturday afternoon. Heard the Blazers took Oden. Good, just what I wanted. Hopefully when I get back, they will be an upper echelon team and Oregon will be excited about Rip City again! Oh, and congrats to the Beavers for an unprecedented back-to-back national championship in Baseball, right on!

Things are good here in Burkina. I have still yet to become ill (knocking on wood currently!). My family is well here and my language comes along, doucement! I can and tend to move at a snail's pace with it, not ready to abandon my English just yet. I can comprehend a lot more, so I am stoked. It's funny to be with my family and hear them code switch between Mooré and French. It makes it difficult because I comprehend so little Mooré. Oh well, in due time.

So, the village trip with Christina and Zach to Komsilga was awesome. It's a sometimes lovely half-hour bike ride north of Ouahigouya. A storm was approaching us as we rode out. It was so beautiful, the sun was completely visible through broken clouds as it set, laying Baobab shadows across the clay desert African ground. Then, we got into village and Christina introduced us to everyone, most people speaking Fulfuldé, a local language. I just kept saying fofo (don't know how it's spelled) which means thank you. Then, we played card games with a bunch of kids in Christina's cabana. It was surreal. I kept telling myself, TIA, this is Africa. The lightning that night was incredible. After cards, we walked to Yaneth's section of the village to meet the others. The village elder greeted us in immaculate Burkinabé French. When I rose, he thought I was older like himself! He thought that because of the shaved head! He then went on to say how myself and my buddy David were the strongest Peace Corps members he had seen. He was a warm host and a great guy, can't wait to go out to Komsilga again and talk more with him.

The lightning that night was great too. I got a good shot of a bolt cracking well behind a baobab tree. About pictures, it is hard for me to upload stuff, so I am looking for ways to do it in a more expeditious way. Don't worry, you guys will be getting a visual of Africa soon!

Well, much love goes out. Take care and let's all remember: Obama in '08 baby!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Sights of Africa

Lot's of cute little kids, some rolling spent tires down the clay road for fun. Others just loitering around. Lots of Zach Randolph jerseys. Hell, mon frère Ismail has one. Saw a Rod Carew #7 the other day, that was funny. Goats, sheep, pigs, some suckling in the middle of the road. Ouahigouyans pumping water from the well. A row of Muslim brothers bowing to the East in unison. Crazy marché. Pops, we may have thought that one in Santa Elena was nuts. I think in your travels you may have seen other things like it, maybe Iran, maybe some casbah locales like in Morocco or something. I miss you dad.

Things are good here. Everyday I learn something new, comprehend more. I get to teach a 15 minute leçon le lundi en Anglais, puis un 15 minute leçon le vendredi en Français. Kinda freaked out for that one.

But yeah, lots to see in Africa. The Burkinabé are wonderful too. So hospitable, so interesting. I am going to the village tonight with mon amie Christina. My first African village experience, gonna blow my mind. I promise, pictures to come. Things are always frantic here. C'est la vie.

Hasta la vista

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Comme ci, comme ça

Hey hey, what's happening? I am having a good time over here. Everyday is new and I must take advantage of the time I have. My family is great, they actively help me by posing questions to me from lists I create. Outside of language class, there is other homework. But most of my time is spent studying beaucoup de Français! There is only work and study it seems, but my family is so great that they help me pass the time with ease. I keep saying I got lucky. My family is just flat out awesome.

We are starting to do small training sessions where we get up and teach other stagiares, stagiares being my fellow trainees. Tech advisers and trainers also critique us. I hope to teach chemistry and math. I do not want to teach such a high level of physics that i mess up the kids, meaning they have to re-double a grade, Burkinabé for retaking a whole block of classes. It's hard here for the kids. Not many teachers. I was au marché aujourd'hui and saw Africare. That made me happy. Maybe some more Africans can go to school and some can be educated about AIDS. The more people get educated, the more opportunity they will have, heck yeah!

Well, language session calls. Encore, beaucoup d'amour y hasta la vista!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Hey hey everyone, I am back again. I promise, next Saturday, I will post pictures of ma chambre, ma famille peut-etre, and many other things.

Peace Corps is hard. They drive you and you don't get much personal time. I have laid new ground rules for my independent learning time, as I need more study time. Things are well, my family is great, I haven't gotten sick yet, etc. Just need to put more time in. I knew this wasn't gonna be easy. Hell, I got a chemistry degree, I can do this!

I miss cold drinks, that's it! Lot's of people, the world over, don't get to open a refrigerator and pull out cold water. This trip has already changed me. The first of many changes for me no doubt!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Land of Upright People

I made it, I am now a Peace Corps Trainee in Burkina Faso. Just yesterday, my presence stopped a soccer game. Shock, to say the least. My French continues to come everyday through language lesson and home stay with my wonderful Burkinabé family. It is raining now and there is a hell of an electrical storm going on. I love semi-desert regions!

I'll just take you through a typical day. The muezzin or the chickens wake me at about 5 each day. I love the thought of eating chicken now more than ever! Usually Ahmed or Asata (my siblings) bring me water for my bucket bath. Then, je prend du pain (bread) et du thé noir (black tea) with Oma and Ahmed at about 7:15. Then, i hop on my sweet Trek and head to ECLA, the local training center. For about 8 hours per day, we engage in language sessions (français et mooré), cross-cultural training, medical, and technical training. Training is fun and hard all at once. But that is what trips like this are all about, paradox. I go home around 5 and Asata or Ismail bring me de l'eau once more for a bucket bath. After my washing, I sit with mon père Oma et mes frères Issaka et Jacques. It's fun stumbling through French with them, but my language is coming along nicely.

Burkina is great. The people are so nice, the little kids constantly yelling 'nasara!' at me, they are so cute. It is just so damn hot! I drink so much water it's ridiculous. Ma chambre feels like an oven at night it is so damned hot here!

All the cultural stuff is great too. The African sky is truly beautiful. I think I can see more stars just because there aren't as many lights in Ouahigouya. All the intricasies, like small minarets with the aformentioned blaring muezzin summoning people to prayer, the pigs and goats running amok through the clay streets, and of course all the cute little African bébés running around calling out "white person, white person" whenever one of the PCTs comes around. Africa rocks.

Beaucoup d'amour et bonne chance!