Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Heirloom Seeds and Heritage Turkeys?

Guest post by..............JON RUDNICKI!!!!!!

We're at the Peace Corps Transit House in Ouagadougou, Emily is christmased out right now so i volounteered to write her blog for her. We just came from the country directors house where we had burritos, fruit salad, and gingerbread. holy crap it was really good. The transit house is like little america, complete with refridgerators, stoves, toilets, real beds and fans. holy crap.

after not doing any "real" work, by western standards, for the first 3 months of our jobs, we're easily tired out by actually having to sit in a class most of the day. even though we have long breaks and the classes require us to just sit there and basically just chat about our villages. chatting about villages is tough work. i too, am tired.

That Jon's a funny guy, right? See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A post to make you go: "What the heck?!"

I love bissap. I can't explain to you what it is. Actually, it consists of hibiscus flowers boiled down with a ton of sugar and (hopefully) frozen. But, it's heaven in a flimsy plastic bag. And it comes to my town in frozen form every three days.

Speaking of frozen goodness, let me just mention my good friend FanChoco. One who was deprived of American food could call it something like a Wendy's Frosty packaged in a plastic bag and carted around by a boy on a bike with an insulated cold-box. That, too, comes to my town once every three days (or more often if I'm lucky). FanChocoMan, as I affectionately call him in my head, announces himself with an icecream-truck-like-horn which calls my attention immediately.

Hold on to your butts, I have internet for the next week or so...and may just post a little somethin' somethin' every day...if I can.

Life is good...but I still smell sh**...ALL THE TIME. (Latrine's will do that, ya know?...story to follow)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apres a month at site...

First of all, because I meant to do this long ago, shout out to Evan's mom who I've heard frequents this part of the internet occaisionally...Hope Evan's doing well up North and that I get to see him again soon!

Okay, sorry for the shameless shout out...I'd do many others if I had the time and energy but that one was promised a few months back. :)

So, anyways, I guess I should start to try to describe a bit of my life in vilage. here's a typical day:

[Schedule format, anyone?]

5:30 or 6:00am - Rise in shine in my pop-up mosquito tent in the family courtyard next to about 10 kids and a few adults who are probably, if they're female, already milling about getting ready to prepare breakfast and do other household chores. Pack up the goods from the night before to put back in the house (pillow, blanket, books, journal, flashlight, toilet paper). Feed the kittens...

6:15am - Take my bucket bath with coldish water, sweep out the whole house and courtyard (it's reassuring to know there aren't any bugs around), make some coffee on the stove, eat a little breakfast, and curl up with a magazine that someone amazing has sent me for a good little taste of the USA...

7am - Realize the time has flown by and I have yet to greet anyone in the family intelligably. Recitfy that by greeting every single person I see around the compound in either Gurunsi/Nuni or Moore depending on what ethnicity they are (still pretty bad at guessing that if I don't know the person). Get my butt moving and ready to head off to "work".

7:30am - On the bike furiously pedaling through the deliciously cool morning breeze. Greeting the regular groups of people on the route that I love (the three sisters who sell rice, my carpenter, my bread guy, my banana-lady tantie, etc) while avoiding the ones that hiss at me or call me Nasara (local name for white person) or, worse yet, straight up "La Blanche".

7:40am - Arrive at school and watch the kids play while chatting with teachers until classes start (they're supposed to begin at 7:30am...but we're in West Africa, so things are more laid-back and, thus, start later than planned).

7:50am - Head off to class with everyone else and watch the happenings - which aren't much since it's only been a week of school and materials are still being destributed

10am - Break time! Grab some snacks that ladies are selling near the school (bread with fishy/oniony oil on it - yum! - or caramels)

10:30 or 10:40 - Back to class to watch the lessons some more

12pm - Bike back to the house, stopping by the market on the way to buy veggies like tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, and cucumbers for lunch...maybe a salad? some pasta? some beans and rice? (This is where the spices I get from the states come in reallly handy)

12:30pm till 3pm - Wash dishes, maybe do laundry, sit out under the tree with the family and read/relax. Maybe play some Uno with the kids. Here are some of those kids...

3:30pm - Head back over to the school or to the Provincial Basic Education Office (depending on where there's more "work" to do) to chat with the teachers or govt officials about anything and everything...

5 or 6pm - Head back home to have some leftovers or maybe some To (local staple food consisting of pulverized then thickened grains dipped in a sauce that can be pretty good if "Mom" makes it...) and relax/think about the day

8:30pm - Figure out what books I want to read tonight, then set up the mosquito tent again and hunker down for the night.

9pm or 9:30pm - Stare at the stars and the moon until I fall asleep...

It's not such a bad life, really. Only thing I could hope for more of was contact with loved ones back home or volunteers here in Burkina...

Oh well! That's what the internet and texts are for!

Wish, as always, you were here and I could describe more/better.

Love-ity love love,
Emily/Aida/Kamoin (oh yeah! keep the names a comin')

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tryin real hard to post a few pictures...

Check out my new photobucket stuff...


sorry i couldnt figure out how to hyperlink...ugh
hope it works!

ps- please know that things are really busy right now and there are many many people who will definitely be getting letters from me once i have a minute to sit and write. i cant wait to tell you some things...hahaha

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back from site!

Just wanted to throw a real quick update at you about where I'll be living over the next few years! I just got back from spending a few days in my village-to-be.

Quick bullet points are always fun; so, here we go.

-Overall sentiment: happy and excited and hopeful

-General region: Centre-Ouest, not too far south of the capital

-Number of awesome PCVs or PCTs who live (or will live) near-by: 5 that I know of

-State of my lodging: pretty sweet.

-Amenities at my house: nice, shady hangar; sizeable courtyard; indoor shower as well as outdoor; outdoor latrine; umm...satellite dish?? in courtyard??; solar panel on roof of house; might be a doorbell; family living right outside my courtyard in the same compound; living room in addition to other rooms

-Resources in my town that are exciting: 47 schools, a regional office on basic education and literacy complete with girls' education specialists, a very nice pre-school, nice health center with surgical unit, shea butter producing association, a VERY beautiful, well-stocked market...and the list goes on...

-General landscape: pretty, green, many trees because its actually illegal to chop any down

-Coolest thing I've heard we have in the village thus far: crocodiles in the dam that are somehow not dangerous??

and, unrelated to my site visit...

-Thing I miss the most about home: ummm...everyone. I see pictures of friends and am sad/jealous that I cant be there and I think about all the family very much.

Dont worry - its not to a point that is worrysome or hindering anything. I just want everyone to know that there is one little person over in Africa that is having many many thoughts of many lovely people she left back in the states.

And seeing where I'm gonna live got me really excited about maybe getting to show some of you around my town once I'm well installed and integrated there...I think you'd all love it as much as I already think I will. AHH! So much love. Lovey love love.

Let me know if you're thinking of me too! You cant know how much it brightens my days.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aїda, Aїda! Oui!! Aїda, Aїda! Non!!


Wow, everyone. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve gotten to Burkina. There have been so many new things I’ve already experienced and it makes the time seem so much longer. How long has it really been? Like a month? I couldn’t tell ya.

I’ll try to start near the beginning (and also not take too long explaining). Our trek to Ouagadougou was long and didn’t go exactly as planned, which was a good introduction to Africa and the PC, I think. We were supposed to have a very short layover in Niame, Niger (the kind where you don’t even leave the plane); however, due to some electrical problem on the plane, the layover became a night-long stay in a hotel in Niger. At the time, the capital wasn’t the safest place to be (election issues?); so, we were advised to stay in the hotel and do no exploring. It was a really nice hotel with a pool and good food and everything but the surrounding area was not very pretty or exciting to see. This was actually great because we got to be eased into the experience of arriving in Africa and once we got to Ouaga, I was so grateful to be there and appreciated its beauty much much more. It was funny how “right” it felt to finally be in Burkina – the layover increased the anticipation and helped highlight how pretty and awesome Ouaga was.

We didn’t spend too much time in the capital; although, we did have a really nice meal at the Country Director’s house. Our CD, Doug Teschnner (sp?), is really nice – he loves keeping us up to date on US sports stats (which is actually really comforting, even though I don’t know anything about sports).

So, we fairly quickly moved to Ouahigouya, our training city. There are two sectors of trainees here – secondary education (SE) and girls’ education and empowerment (GEE). The SE kids all live in host families in Ouahigouya and all of us GEE people are out in the surrounding villages. We’re divided by language ability and study language (which, for the time being is French for all but the most advanced) with our village group every day. We also have many sessions on GEE with the whole group of GEE people (we switch off which village we have class in every day). We also have lots of medical sessions and safety sessions and cultural sessions all together (SE and GEE alike) in Ouahigouya – which usually means the village folk come into town and stay at a hotel for a night once a week or so. Coming into town means we get some lovely things like cold drinks and fries and veggies and ample protein; but, it also means missing my host family and village air and the village way of life.

I’m so happy with my village and my host family. I live in Bogoya Z (as opposed to Bogoya F or the far-away land of Komsilga) with 4 other awesome volunteers (Julie – a.k.a. Medina, Molly – a.k.a. Mariam, Devin – a.k.a. Zalissa, and Jon – a.k.a. Ibrahim) and our “language and cultural facilitator,” J.P. J.P. runs our language classes and is our liason for any issues that arise in our families (like, the carb overload we all had for our first week in village…haha); he’s a fun guy and is great support for us.

The village is a little hard to describe – there are a lot of “quartiers” or little groupings of houses/courtyards/storage facilities/stables that are all connected in a maze-like fashion. Each of us is in a different quartier. Mine is the one closest to the school and entrance to the village and there is, luckily, a water pump right outside of the compound. My family lives in this compound along with many other families – I’m not really sure how many because it’s hard for me to tell who is grouped with which family. The structure and definition of family members is much more fluid here, possibly because people are kind of closer to each other and depend on one another more.

I do know a bit about my own family, luckily. My grandfather is the chief of Bogoya Z (super cool!), which means that I see him all the time and must be very careful with my greetings…
My father speaks French very well and is very well-respected in the community. He works as a photographer in Ouahigouya and I don’t really see him very often (possibly because I’m a woman). I’m pretty convinced that my mother is the coolest woman in Burkina. She is so spunky and straightforward and knows very well how americans work because she has hosted 3 other people before me. She always makes sure im doing well and she cooks the best food. Its great. She also seems to be very well known and liked in the community, which is really nice. I also have 2 awesome sisters who, along with my mom and all the other children around, constantly call out the name they gave me, which is Aida!

Now, I wish I could write more but my connection is about to expire so I think Ill have to get goin! Hope everything is well with all of you back home. I think about you so much and miss your loveliness!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Soaking it up

Here I am, less than a week away from The Big Day, packing and checking off to-do lists like mad, and (the best part) enjoying being in the midst of many lovely going away gatherings...

And it feels a little overwhelming. Not that that's a bad thing. I feel like I'm on the brink of experiencing a lot of Life (you know, because I've been dead up until now...). After 22 years of gaining many bits of experience/knowledge and a ton of support, I feel as ready as I'll ever be for this big big journey.

The last few weeks have felt very interesting. America already looks quite different to me when I'm thinking about all the little luxuries I'll soon be leaving. And all the people in my life who mean a lot to me (I bet you're among them if you've stumbled upon this blog) are just these treasures that I'd love nothing more than to sit next to and soak up like a sponge so that I can take them along with me when I go.

So, I'm soaking it all up and soaking you all up (twss?) in the midst of packing it all up and finishing it all up. And it all makes me smile and cry. :)

Whew, now that all that mush is over - a few quick practicalities. I don't know how easy it will be to keep this blog going strong in Burkina given the internet and electricity availability, but I'm gonna try my hardest to do so. I'll also try my hardest to make this something interesting and not too cliched to read.

As for the big dates coming up: Tuesday morning I get on a train to Philly where I'll meet all my fellow Burkina Faso PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). Wednesday morning we get all our shots and Wednesday night we fly off to Ouagadougou (with a brief mid-way layover in Paris).

Silly pictures of me with my big old bags to come...

For now, thanks for stopping by and make sure we get a good goodbye in however we can! You know it goes without saying that I'll miss you all very much...