Big Up from Aribinda

Thursday, July 16, 2009

L'heure de reflechir, l'heure d'envisager

So, I hear some people would love to read another post from my blog? (Thanks Pops!) OK, voilà my last post on this blog. Time to reflect on the past, time to consider what awaits in the future.

After my dad asked me what's been going on?, why haven't I posted a blog recently?, I had to consider in what voice I would write this final chapter. As my family and other volunteers know, I had a miserable experience leaving my site. Listening to the bats peep sullenly in the trees last night, I contemplated what I wanted to say. What I will give are some final thoughts, a mélange of good and bad, sweetness versus putrid rot, wonderful, positive experiences darkened by ugly, spiteful transpirings.

My last morning in Aribinda. My neighbors were going to come over and take some pictures with me. Ayouba and Boucari, two of my students in my 7th grade class, were to bring a donkey over, equipped with a cart, and were to take me to the bush taxi. I awoke just like any other day, but anticipation of leaving filled me. More than anything else, I wanted to leave. I would miss many people and perhaps at times even miss the lay of the land, the glistening gray of the hills in the punishing sunlight, the donkeys' braying, the swish of the neem trees in the wind, the tweets of the little birds that I so love. I wanted to leave on good terms, with bittersweet memories of 'le depart'. However, that was not meant to be...

Boucari and Ayouba came over first while I was in the house getting my final things organized. I had already given many gifts to each of them, but Boucari asked about my towel. I gave in and allowed him to take it. Apparently, that was tacit permission to start raiding my house. Being busy I didn't realize what was going on. Boucari and Ayouba started going through all the stuff I had decided to leave for my colleague who is going to occupy the house next school year. At this point, Moussa and Idrissa, two grown up neighbors, came by. They saw Boucari and Ayouba calmly canvassing my house. So, they joined in the fun. Meanwhile, I am trying to pack a little bit of this, some of that, take care of my water filter, etc. Then, I start to hear growls of frustration, Boucari and Ayouba complaining. I go in to see the the new disarray that is my house, Idrissa and Moussa taking things from Boucari and Ayouba, piling all my shit that I planned on leaving into a few rough piles on the ground or on tables that I was leaving.

I flipped out. I told everybody drop it, Idrissa, I didn't give that to you, Moussa, what the fuck do you think you're doing? I ordered everyone outside. Moussa and Idrissa had already received gifts. At this point, I thought my neighbors cared more about my stuff than my departure. At that moment, by their actions, that was clear. I don't know if I can ever forgive them. I yelled at all four of them. Idrissa then had the nerve to tell me that what the children did was despicable. I told him, with vitriolic force, that he had done the same thing. He shut his hole. Ayouba, Boucari and myself then pulled out a bookcase with three shelves I was donating to the high school. The boys were to drop my stuff off at the bush taxi stop then to return and take the bookcase to the high school. After dropping my stuff off and saying a few heartfelt goodbyes, I was taking pictures of some friends posing, granite hills providing a nice background. I realized I left my MP3 player in the house.

I wrapped up my picture taking, told the driver Oumarou that I would be 15 minutes. He said cool and I started off at a jog for my house. Yelling goodbyes as I ran, I got to my house in about a minute, and running up to me, Boucari says, 'ils ont volé la chose!' They stole the thing! Yeah, someone had taken the bookcase that was destined for the high school.

I was livid, but defeated. Nothing more to do except hope that it wasn't one of my neighbors that had already received gifts. But it was one of my neighbors, without a doubt. Who else knew that thing was outside? Who else saw me leave with the donkey cart? Idrissa and Moussa knew, and Moussa commonly built chairs, benches, and tables. I hate to even make accusations, so that's why I am not going to voice my suspicions. As I ran back, waving and yelling out some last-minute goodbyes, I told as many people as I could that someone had stole my bookcase and to watch out for it. But, I'm not stupid and the person who stole my bookcase wouldn't do it stupidly either.

I arrived back at the bush taxi and told another 20 people. I told Oumarou about it and he was surprised and upset. I then said that the person would break the thing into individual boards to cover their tracks. A few boards separated don't make a bookcase, they make quality planks to build something.

Aribinda beat me. It kicked my ass. I was so down, so tired, I just couldn't care. I said a few more goodbyes, none tougher than to Ousmane at the boutique, got in the bush taxi, and exited Aribinda for the last time as a Peace Corps volunteer.

As I listened to Anthony Kiedis lament on my MP3 player, I looked back at the monolithic granite hills one last time. I survived, I laughed, I got sick, I shook a lot of hands, I dug holes, I got so pissed, I screamed, I suffered. But I lived an experience so incredible, so enlightening. I am truly blessed to have done this. I made friends, never enemies. I planted trees, providing beauty and shade to a sun-scorched earth. I cultivated young African minds, and they inturn showed me their world. What a beautiful thing, so many people here offered me sanctuary and didn't expect much. Well, I don't think I gave that much. But look how much I have. So much compared to these poor souls. But look what they gave me. They gave me their world. That's something to be happy about.

To make it short, i'm in Marrakech, having a Facebook chat with my sister and I only got 5 minutes left. I wish I had some time to post pictures for this blog while I was in Burkina, but that whole close of service business was stressful. Hell, it was hard enough to pack, geez! Much love and thanks for keeping up. I'll post pictures to this blog and my other picture areas when I get back home!

1 comment:

Jill said...

Wow, Mac, that really is a crappy last day in village. On the day of our last school meeting, I got mad at a couple of the other teachers and ended up staying home and crying about it instead of going, all in front of Amy and Aaron, who were on their site visit. It was a really shitty day, but that's Burkina for you. I imagine most volunteers have had similar experiences when leaving their villages. It's hard not to be let down when it's such a monumental moment for you but not that big a deal for everyone else.

I hope you're having a great trip and maybe I'll run into you in the Northwest sometime soon!