So last night we had a blowout for July 4th. My favorite part was actually the prep time. That's when I actually got to just sit and chat with a few people in a super relaxed atmosphere (while peeling sweet potatoes and dicing onions). The actual party was still really great; I don't want to detract from the work Brad and Bridget did - they put together a bonne fête indeed. And the sheep tasted great. If you're looking at other blogs, you may be inclined to argue that it was a goat, but I assure you it wasn't. Goats have tails that point up; sheep have tails that hang down. Our dinner definitely had a hangy tail.
Anyway, once again there was dancing. People who like to dance really can't wrap their heads around the idea that there are people who don't like to dance. In other words, eventually I danced. For as short a time as I could get away with. I think my strategy for future parties will be to dance as early as possible and get it over with. Or better yet, grab an instrument and start playing, that's where I'd rather be anyway.
To respond to whichever RPCV apparently has enough internet connection to give me a hard time, but not enough to research exchange rates (See the first comment on my previous post):
The CFA (Central African Franc) is a somewhat widespread unit of currency in francophone africa. According to Wikipedia, it's value was tied to the franc, and therefore now the euro. The rate is 100 CFA : ~0.15 €. According to Yahoo!, one dollar gets you 416 CFAs. According to my wallet, I got 385 on the dollar a couple weeks ago, but that certainly includes some tariff. I have already mentioned my salary as a trainee, it's about 11,000 CFA/wk (It will be around double that after swear-in). To answer your next question, I'd really need to know what you mean by aspirant - I assume we're not talking about the French military rank. Stagiare means trainee in French.
Lunch: 200 - 700 CFA (as long as you aren't craving a 2500 CFA hamburger)
Drinks: 350 CFA for a coke. 500 - 800 CFA for a beer. I generally stick to water, or a 100 CFA bag of bilsap (a chilled hibiscus drink).
Laundry Detergent: 200 CFA MIGHT be enough for one load of laundry, if your clothes aren't very dirty. Which I assure you is never the case.
Laundry Soap (when you don't have a machine, you really need both): 350 CFA, but it lasts a while
Phone time: 250 CFA/mn local or international. 30 CFA for a short text in-country; 90 for a short one to the states
Mail: Over 800 CFA to send regular mail to the states. A 1 kg package costs nearly 10,000 CFA.
Internet: 400 - 500 CFA/hr
Toilet paper: 1000 CFA / 4 pk
Swimming: 1000 CFA/day
One pagne (A length of material long enough to have pants made): 1250 CFA. Another 1000 or so to actually have the pants made.
I haven't bought any powdered milk, toothpaste, or bath soap.
I actually did save about 6000 CFA from our last pay period, so I'm planning on buying some material for pants this weekend.
Tomorrow I'm taking my host sister to the pool.
Had my first flat yesterday. Took me about two hours to take apart, patch, and put back together due to my lack of experience combined with my total incompetence with all things mechanical. My rear brake is now giving me trouble - actually it already was, but now it's giving me more. Anyway, I'm glad that stuff is happening now, while I have PCVFs around to advise me.
Have I published a key of "acronyms"? I put it in quotes because the PC calls them that, despite the fact that they don't pronounce a single one of them as a word. Anyway...
PCT = Peace Corps Trainee
PCV = Peace Corps Volunteer
PCVF = Peace Corps Volunteer Facilitator (A PCV who is helping out train the PCTs)
RPCV = Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
ET = Early Termination (when a PCT or PCV leaves before COS)
COS = Close of Service
Those are the ones I'll likely be using the most.
By the way, shout out to Carson for the letter! In answer to a comment you made, I generally do NOT check the news online because it takes me so long to type on a French keyboard! Please feel free to include news items you feel are important or interesting in your letters.
Now I'm going to go read other people's blogs because I'm tired of heard stories about other trainees from MY MOM. There's just something not right about that. Speaking of blogs, we should next week have a nearly definitive list of the blogs being maintained by our class. I will link them when I have it.