Big Up from Aribinda

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happenings in Aribinda with my Parents

Live from Spain, what's cracking? I'm just getting a little R&R after close to 7 months as a volunteer. It's Easter Sunday here in Utrera. Andalucia is cool. The food is incredible, partly because of a dearth of tasty treats for culinary Western snobs, comme moi!

So, my folks spent 13 days in Burkina. It was fun, they were tough. I did a week at site with them. While they were here it was the break in-between the second and third trimesters. It was perfect timing, besides the fact the temperatures were ramping up to their inevitable high point which comes in April here. The parents had a problem with the heat and the Ouaga fumes. I had never noticed the fumes in Ouaga that much. But, if you stay in centre-ville for a few days, it's much easier to notice them. I'm usually at the transit house or in the bureau off Charles De Gaulle. They stuck it out though wherever, in Ouaga, in Dori, and most importantly, at site in Aribinda, au Sahel.

We did a lot, had a lot of visitors. It was good, most of the time spent at the house. The heat was really a shock to them, coming from Spain and Oregon where the temps can be right around freezing. Personally, I didn't think it was that hot, but I have become Burkinabe. Yeah, that's right. I am a little African now folks, for better or worse.

One of the nights, we attended a wedding party. I took a cadeau for the couple and told my folks we would stay for 15 minutes, give the gift and leave. Well, we stayed for 2 and a half hours, my moms camera go some use, and we were honored more, I felt, than the wedding party. It was strange, the PCV and his parents, the foreigners, being honored so much by these wonderful people. I didn't like the feeling that our presence superceded everything. We were there to celebrate the union of two people, but they wanted to honor the guests. It was interesting. More to come on that experience later.

I took my folks over to Consta's house to meet his family two days later. One of the village handy men, Consta Kobre, had been bugging me to come to his house to meet the fam. He was good friends with the other volunteers in Aribinda before me. So, I told his son Hamadoum to come and get me and I would bring the folks over, you know, really honor them with my folks presence too. We went over there, I translated, and my mom took pictures. It was cool, but and eye-opener for my mom. We stayed a half-hour then went home. When we got home, my mom started crying. She talked about how beautiful the people are, how they are stuck, they don't have much. It was a teary moment, my eyes and my pops getting moist. I told her she had to tell everybody back in the States about it. I also talked to her about how they just become accustomed to that life. It is difficult, so difficult I can't even describe it sometimes...

My driver flaked on me, so we had to stay another night up there, but it ended up being fine. They got to take Salif's taxi-brousse. It was more packed than it had ever been and for the first 45 km of the trip, I sat up on top of the cab with Salu, Salif's son, as he and I bracketed the bikes on the roof. My folks sat shotgun. It was an interesting ride, starting at 6:30 from Aribinda and ending around 11:30 in Dori. Yaneth's neighbor at one point told me my French wasn't good. That bummed me out, but I was so sick of trying to carry on conversations with people. Everyone wants to talk to the nassara and when there are multiple nassaras, it's like a party. Yeah, she's right I need to work on my French, but yeah, I didn't appreciate that. Stuggling, that's what a PCV does.

Segue to the night before the taxi-brousse ride. I am walking by the transport gare in Aribinda. I see this truck with a few nassaras in the back. The guy sees me and, grinning really big, emphatically waves to me. I said, OK, let's go talk to these people. I walk over and start a conversation in French. After a few seconds really, I make a reference in English. I could tell they weren't French because of the accent. Then, the girl says, "Oh, good, English!" They were a Dutch couple and had been in Aribinda since Monday, a day after I pulled into site with my folks. We lamented over how we had not crossed paths and now they were leaving. They were extremely friendly. I was very disappointed that we hadn't met earlier. They talked about their stay for a second, then proceeded to tell me that the people love me. They said they talked about me alot, that they are proud they have a hard working volunteer, and they were very happy that I spoke so much to everyone. I was so happy about that. Sometimes, I just get lost in it all. I don't know if the people like me that much, should I be doing more to integrate myself, etcetera. But, that really reassured me. As the truck rolled away, I told the couple to enjoy Burkina, bonne route, and they yelled back see you later and keep up the good work. That was so refreshing, something I really needed. I have only been at site for 7 months now. I still have work to do, but I guess I have done a lot to ingratiate myself with the people. Satisfying, to say the least!

More stories soon, hopefully in April. Hot season, I think it's gonna be around 120 degrees at site for close to two straight weeks. Eek, I am gonna be so lazy, just hope the kids are going to like an introduction to functions and the beginnings of algebra.

Take care, beaucoup d'amour de l'Afrique de l'Ouest!


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Sandybelle said...

great news ..sir
May God bless your family:))))))

Robin said...

Mac, your father and I are still "downloading" our visit with you in Burkina. So far I've not found the correct words to describe it all. It was fantastic and horrible. But it's really all about the lovely people there. Thanks so for all your care and guidance while we were there. Spain was a kick, eh? What a contrast, Spain and Burkina. We do so pray for Burkina's future and also for Spain which we have come to appreciate so much.

Love, your Mom, glad to be back in Oregon