I have no excuse for my lack of posts other than sheer laziness, but I'll attempt a brief rundown of the events of the last 2 months.
The vacation was much much needed as I approached the 1 year mark in country. Kristin, a fellow GEE volunteer and I headed down to the beach for 8 days. After dealing with the most heinous woman in all of West Africa at the Ghanain embassy, we made the 16 hour bus ride, another 5 hour bus ride, and a 1 hour taxi ride to a quiet eco-lodge on the beach. The food was great and the owners were super accomidating – especially after our lack of budgeting skills that left us a little short of the bill (whoops). Despite it being rainy season, we managed to make up for the lack of sun our thighs had seen in the past year.
The next stop was a more touristy beach town – Busua, where we did more tanning, lounging, and eating. I’m told this was one of the stops in Endless Summer, but have yet to confirm it. It was here that I had my first experience with both lobster and swordfish. I personally think that lobster tastes like a big shrimp but A: It’s not the season and B. I, the former vegan, can’t claim to be a seafood connoseur.
Our final stop was Cape Coast, antoher beach town where we stayed only one night. It was here that we had our only encounter with another American the entire trip. Thanks to a broken door handle, a college student drunkenly stumbled into our room in the middle of the night thinking it was his own. I personally thought we were going to be murdered (being completely blind without contacts and it being the middle of the night), meanwhile, Kristin was laughing at the situation. Although the normal reaction to someone screaming bloody murder would be to turn and leave, our new friend responded with “Chill outttt” and proceeded to ask if he could just look and make sure his stuff was not indeed in the room. This all happened at about 3 in the morning and luckily we had to catch a 4AM bus – quite the wake up call. It took a little while before my heart rate returned to a normal pace and I could laugh at the absurdity of it all: me standing on our bed tangled in a mosquito net screaming at the top of my lungs while some drunk college kid, who probably didn’t remember any of it the next morning, stood in the doorway with Kristin finding it funny.
When we got back to Burkina it was straight into Training of Trainers – where we learned all the things to (and not to) say/do to the new trainees who arrived on June 12th. The training lasted a week was really more for the new Peace Corps staff who teach languages than for the volunteer trainers. It was, however one of those points where I realized how long I’ve been here, and while I wouldn’t say it’s flown, I don’t know that I ever actually pictured myself at the point of training new volunteers at the 1 year mark.
After a few brief days in village during which I cleaned my house and played with my puppy, I went back to Ouaga for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language week-long training. Although I’m not a teacher, I held a club with middle schoolers last year and amd hoping to be able to help our more next year. The formation was…interesting. The man in charge, who was Burkinabè and therefore not a native English speaker, showed lots of 80s movies and had us practicing activities with eachother. It wasn’t entirely futile – I did learn somethings about lesson planning and it was entertaining (however politically incorrect) to watch my friends role play as if they didn’t know how to speak English.
4th of July:
I spent my second 4th of July in Burkina lounging by a hotel pool in Bobo Dioulaso. It was a dady made especially patriotic by the red and blue pagne overalls that Hayley and I had our tailor make us. We didn’t grill hot dogs or set off fire works, but we listened to just about every song mentioning the homeland on about 10 different people’s Ipods.
After the whirlwind traveling and trainings of the past 2 months, the pace of life back in village seems incredibly slow. School is officially over (even though students and teachers alike stopped coming weeks ago). The rains have started which is bad for my deteriorating house but good for planging, so everyone is out in their fields. Many villagers have small houses out in their fields which can be over 20 kilometers away, so often times they sleep our there. Teachers don’t make the trip in from Diebougou anmore since their houses and families are there. Needless to say it’s quiet around Navielgane. I’ve been using my time to plan for the next school year and certainly catch up on my reading.
A friend of mine pointed out a while ago that while my blog is titled 101 Things to Do with Mud, I haven’t listed any, so I’ll end this already-too-long-post with a few examples:
Bricks: Villagers make mud bricks for the construction of houses, walls, latrines, etc. Unless they’re cemented over in some form or fashion, this doesn’t always stand the tests of rain and time – hence the fact that last rainy season a sizeable portion of my courtyard wall had a little accident.
Cleaning: Sounds counterproductive doesn’t it? Many women use mud to clean pots which sounds crazy – unless you don’t have sponges, in which case the dirt serves as the abrasive surface that removes burned rice residue off of pots.