Big Up from Aribinda

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!


Iraqi Mojo said...

Mac, I'm glad you're enjoying Africa. I admire you for taking this huge leap. It will no doubt enrich your life.

"The muezzin or the chickens wake me at about 5 each day."

Wow, I haven't heard a muezzin since 1982! I used to get so annoyed by the muezzin in Baghdad, especially at that hour!

"my presence stopped a soccer game"

Are you the only white guy in town?

What does 'nasara' mean?

Post some more pics when you get a chance - I'd like to see a pic of the town you're in and your host family if they allow it.

I've added you to my list of good peeps on my blog.

Take care Mac!


Bandie said...

Mac! So glad you are settling into your new life. I had to chuckle about the muezzin waking you in the morning.

You stopped a soccer game! That's awesome! :)

Please post pictures when you can, would love to see your home and the people.

Sending hugs from WYOMING!


t-mos said...

I hope I am not the only one who just learned what a muezzin is, thank you blessed internets. I guess its a good example of why the book I am currently reading is titled "religious literacy".

But not to bore you! Thanks a ton for the updates Mac, and keep them coming. So happy to hear things are well for you and your settling in to life with the host family. I can't wait to hear more about it.

Pics when you get chance!

peace and love


Mutant Pacifist said...


Welcome to Africa! I lived in West Africa when I was a kid while my mother worked for the Peace Corps. You will love it. Coming of age in a place as different as you are in now was a valuable experience for me that is burned deep into my soul. Very few people in the world are doing what you are doing now so for the rest of your life you will have to be an African cultural representative. While many acknowledge that Africa has a lot to learn from us outsiders, few realize we have so much to learn from Africa. It is our job to bring that learning back to people here at home.

the little kids constantly yelling 'nasara!' at me, they are so cute.

What does 'nasara' mean? -mojo

Mojo, thanks for linking here. "Nasara" comes from "Nazareth" as in "Jesus of". It basically means "white Christian missionary", though perhaps a more accurate translation is just "whitie" or "foreigner".

When we would walk about certain towns, packs of little kids would follow me and my sister around and shout "t'sara!, t'sara!" (which is just my transliteration of Mac's "nasara") until an adult would tell them to stop. As a kid it was not so cute, even a bit upsetting in fact.

Mac, it looks like that photo is Caye Caulker, not Burkina Faso! That's a nice place too! Did you go much to the Lazy Lizard? I could really use a nice drink and dip at the split right about now! Ya mon!



Upright Solutions said...

I have now been in the Peace Corps a full month. I hope you are having a great time!

Its a great experience!