10 December 2008


The stars have aligned, Lachesis has woven Clotho's brightly colored cords, the moon is in Aquarius, whatever, we finally have a long sought-for confluence of events: I am in a place with internet, and I have my camera! AND I'm reasonably sure that these computers aren't virus-laden...
So we start six months ago, in Charles de Gaulle, when I'm still looking at all of these people and thinking, "Well, these are my best friends for three months. Hope they don't suck." Turns out they don't.
Three of the guys, and one of the not-guys in the background. Ah the stories I could tell. Not really, we're a tame group.
But I'm not going to spend much time on these because it IS spending much time to upload. On y va, onto our arrival in Ouaga...

Tea and crumpets - well, glucose cookies - in the courtyard at SIL.

After a few days we moved to our slightly more permanent home of Ouahigouya. And we danced. Ugh.

If you hate dancing like I do, be the guy who takes pictures instead. It didn't work forever, though.

We met the chef of Ouahigouya, who was gracious enough to allow us to take pictures.

I don't remember his name, but like everywhere else in the world, always show respect to whomever is wearing the funniest hat.

What was living in Ouahigouya like? Step into my parlor.

Ah, water filter, you make my life less diarrhea-y. And mosquito net, you make my sleep less malaria-y.

But naturally the most interesting part of living with a host family is the family:

My host "aunt" Risnata, whom I called "Tantie Rit", a play on her name and the fact the she laughs a lot.

My kid brother, Faris. He's trouble. But lovable.

My host parents. These are good folks. I can't describe how lucky I was to get this family.

My host sister, Aida. She's smart as a whip; she won one of the prizes for highest marks in our model school, mentioned previously.

And now on to life AFTER training. Yes, current stagiares, it does exist. Your housemates change drastically, however...

It's already dead, I'm not that crazy. Though I left it overnight so I could get a picture of it during the day, and almost stepped on it as a result. So I'm not that sane, either.

Not pictured: my ex-roommate, Riley the cat. Sorry, Lisa, it just didn't work out. But she still hangs out on the porch a lot. Burkina cats are tough. Messed up in the head, maybe, but tough.

I tried to take some pics of the night sky, but they didn't come out. Since coming to site, I haven't used my camera much, for several reasons. And my pictures from Bani were taken on another camera; I don't have them with me. So we skip ahead to just last night, actually. My first taste of a mask festival! Ok, my second. My first was the night before, but it was dark, and it's hard to take pictures when you're constantly on the lookout for the masks to stop dancing and start hitting people. Fortunately, this second night they came out earlier AND we talked to the guy in charge of the masks, who told them not to hit us while we took pictures. I know this all seems bizarre, but that's the way it is with the masks. Once the person puts it on, he (or she? I don't know...) ceases to be that person. And the masks are feisty. How best to describe it? The people gather around closely to watch the masks, and they laugh when they run away when a mask tries to hit them, so they're not in fear for their lives or anything - but when they run, they run in earnest, so when the masks try to hit people, it's not JUST symbolic - they're looking to cause some bruises, at least. At least, that's my reading on it, and I'm not interested in taking a hit to find out whether I'm right.



Not hitting me!

And finally, at the request of my sister, a current picture of me. As of my last checkup, I weigh in at 72 kilos. I currently have hair, but look for that to change come the next hot season. I'll take it all off again. Well, the hair on top of my head I mean. The goatee stays. Not because I like goatees. I think they're silly-looking. But I'm hoping to pass the goatee stage and have myself a Fu Manchu by the close of my service. Even if that means I have to extend a year.

I don't like this picture, either. But be fair - I'm fresh off of a 40km bike ride. And I left my makeup at home.

That's it from me this time around. After posting this, I'll be visiting my post-office box. I'll have lots of letters, right? Right?!?