Hello all. I have officially made it through my first three weeks at site and my first bush-taxi ride to Bobo! The second will occur in a couple of hours. I came in to Bobo for a volunteer appreciation ceremony at which the Governor of the region spoke and thanked us. Some older volunteers gave speeches. It was raining. Then we ate delicious pizza.
The Burkina Faso bike tour (www.burkinabiketour.blogspot.com) came through and chilled at the Bobo bureau. I got to meet some new, sweaty people. I took this opportunity to do what I'm calling Affectation Part Deux. Basically I bought a bunch of shit for my house and now I'm going to attempt bringing it all back with me on the bush taxi. I learned I love plastics, such as buckets, shit tea pots (or "bouillards"), and other convenient containers that I lack at site. I got to shop/ward off faux types (aka douchebags who want to sell things to foreigners at crazy expensive prices) with Julie and James, a delightful couple whose site is near Banfora. Overall, this "weekend" trip to Bobo has been all kinds of excellent: eating good food, biking around the city, chilling with other badass Americans.
But enough about Bobo! Padema is where that real shit is at! I love it. I'm using a lot of Jula, which is hard because I speak at the level of a 4 year old. I have a friend, Minata, who lives on the side of the main road through my village and sells gas out of glass bottles to passing moto drivers. She knows maybe 10 words in French, so we chat only in Jula and I write everything down. Her daughter and her daughter's half-sister (I think Minata and the girl's mother are married to the same guy) speak French, so sometimes I'm able to have something translated throught them. I met Minata on my first, what I like to call, "Marche Walk", which is when I walk a circle from my house, past the CSPS, through the main part of the marche, past the gateaux ladies who speak to me in Moore despite that I tell them I'm learning Jula first, saluer most everyone, then go back home the long way, which passes by Minata's house. She's awesome. She has a great sense of humor, feeds me various deliciousness, and understands that my Jula is very limited but that I'm actually trying to learn to speak it. Some people don't understand that last part and just stare at me blankly when I attempt certain phrases or questions. Some then revert to French. This is annoying. I would like to find a proper tutor so I can be at a level where I can hold sensibilizations in Jula by the time I get to IST. Luckly the two village women who work at the CSPS, Mariam and Djeneba, (they are fucking awesome and my other two besties thus far), also help me out with Jula and Bobo sometimes. Mariam also managed to have a table made for me by the carpenter. It has improved my quality of life by 200%. I love table.
Jula is not the only language spoken at my site. There is a significant population of Mossi, who speak Moore, which includes my homologue and the accoucheuse (woman who births babies and does prenatal consultations). her little boys are hella cute. Not to be confused with the city Bobo-Dioulasso, there are also Bobo speakers at my site who are of the ethnicity Bobo. I can do basic saluations in Bobo. There are a few Peulhs as well, who speak Fulfulde. I can only say good morning in that shit... 4 languages is enough.
I live in a family courtyard with a family who is still in the fields cultivating, so I have had significant privacy at home so far. This is often interrupted by my children-neighbors who want to hang out or bother me. Most of the time they're cool though. School starts October 1, so I should have some other kids living with me soon.
I do not cook for myself yet. There is no gas in this country, and as I am a new site, I don't have any left over from a previous volunteer. As a result, I depend on other people to eat, including my homologue, the other 5 employees at the CSPS, who are all awesome btw, and Minata. On Ramadam I ate no fewer than 7 meals, including a sheep heart that was pretty delicious. My homologue and I saluered the mayor and the president of the COGES and I got to have awkward Jula conversations with important men. They fed me though. My village is probably around 90% Muslim and Ramadam was ballin'! The girls were dressed up in their fancy complets, ith their hair done, there was a group of men playing the balafons and other drums around the village, and groups of kids went around saying "sambe sambe", which means "gift gift" and adults can give out small change to them. It's kind of like trick-or-treating. They haven't really stopped with the sambe sambe shit actually, and Ramadan was like two weeks ago now.
I need to pack up all this shit I bought for my taxi ride home. On the way here everyone in the van had to get out and walk for a short stretch due to all the potopoto (mud). A truck had gotten stuck, but our driver managed to get through with his lighter load. Shitty road = excellent stretch break. Until next time, friends! Call me - I have excellent reseau (cell phone reception).