It's been a while since I last posted and both a lot and a little has happened. I moved to my village in the southwest of the country and have been quickly getting into the swing of things there. Two days after swear in I took a 5 hour bus ride to my provincial capital where a Peace Corps driver met me to take me the remaining 13K or so. My homologue, Jonas, met me at my house and there were several neighbor kids who were quite eager to help bring in all my bags. My house is a concrete house with two bedrooms, a 'salon'/living room, and an indoor shower (room with a pipe leading to the outside). The driver helped me set up my stove, changed my lock, and was off to drop off the next volunteer. I was glad I didn't end up one of the horror stories where the volunteer runs crying after the Peace Corps car as it pulled away. (There was a small issue where my latrine didn't have walls for the first night, but that was quickly remedied the following morning.) I was excited to be there and Jonas was eager to show me around and introduce me to some of my neighbors.
I'm living about 200 yards away from the primary school and my closest neighbors are teachers. My first day I met some of them and then, since it was a market day, went to the market to buy some veggies and continue meeting people. We stopped at a little kiosk in my village and had some coffee before Jonas left me to get settled in in my house. That night his daughter brough by some to for dinner (mmm) and was back the next morning to show me around. I quickly got into a routine of drinking tea with some of my neighbors and for the most part just listening to their conversations. My french is getting a little better - as in I'm able to get by and do the things that I need in my village - but it's still not quite advanced enough to have too many complex conversations.
My first couple weeks have been full of meeting lots of new people. One of the most interesting encounters would have to be meeting my closest Chef du Terre who didn't speak a word of French. Jonas interpreted the Dagara (my local language) for me and told me that he wanted to give me a chicken to welcome me and would give it to me at a later time. I've also started Dagara lessons with my tutor who works at an organization called ASUDEC. I have lessons three times a week and soon I think we're going to start "practical" lessons where we go out and I try to talk to people in my village. I've been able to start greeting people in Dagara, and am often met with laughter at my pronunciation, but I can tell people appreciate the effort.
My 23rd birthday was last weekend and was able to come up to my provincial capital for some good food and cold drinks. I'm only 13K away and it was an easy ten minute bus ride. The volunteer that lives there, Gwen, hooked me up with some delicious funfetti cake and a few other volunteers came in to celebrate with me. I'm lucky to be so close to my provincial capital where I can get pretty much anything I need that I can't get in village.
My village, I'm told, has about 6000 people, but I think that might be a little bit of an exaggeration. There are two primary schools and basically the equivalent to a middle school in the surrounding villages. As far as other 'establishments' go, there are a few small boutiques that sell soap, pasta, and other random neccessities, a kiosk where I buy my bread, and thats about it. There is a tailor in town which also happens to be where I'm able to charge my cell phone battery (via car battery) since there's no electricity in my village. The big social events are definitely centered around wherever the marche happens to be that day and people can sit and drink dolo. Our village has a marche every 5 days but it moves to the other nearby villages on off days. I'm able to buy veggies and a few other things there, but it has been nice to come into Diebougou to get a few more obscure things. I also have a new post office box there. The address is:
B.P. 21 Diebougou
Region de Bougouriba
Burkina Faso, West Africa
I got my first package to that address this week so I know it works! That's definitely the best place to send things since I'm not sure how often I will get to the capital to get the mail that is sent there. I sent out letters this week and last weekend so some of you should be getting them pretty soon.
I'm sure there are plenty of funny/obscure stories that I'm leaving out, next time I post I'll try and look through my journal to see what I'm forgetting. Hope all is well at home, and happy belated birthday Dad!