26 September 2010

a long overdue update

Here's irony: I'm sitting at one of a handful of restaurants in Ouaga
with wireless internet, I have a computer with me, and yet I'm still
updating from my phone. The computer, you see, is work-issued, and
blocks most social networking sites.

Where to begin? Though I have held real jobs before, my new one is
like nothing I've done in the past. I've been in jobs where meetings
were a success if they stimulated discussion and new trains of
thought. I've been in jobs where meetings were a success if necessary
administrative information was delivered. I'm not sure I've ever been
in a job where a meeting is a success if the sole result is the plan
to have another meeting.
Which is not to say I don't enjoy my job. It's fascinating. And
sometimes surreal, especially for someone a month out of Peace Corps.
Imagine this: two months ago, to get anywhere for work I would either
bike or take a 15-year-old van with the original shocks, crammed with
twenty people, going down a dirt road to get to the next slightly
bigger village. Now if I need to get somewhere for work, I only take
my moto if for some reason the embassy driver is busy. Surreal.
And high pressure. When you've got 5 years to turn half a BILLION
American dollars into structures and systems that will still be
helping an economy develop 15 years in the future, deadlines are
tight. Hence why I have a work computer at my Sunday lunch.
To be fair, said lunch is grilled carp with a savory Senegalese sauce.
Not just rice cooked with beans and oil. Having a paycheck and not
just a volunteer stipend has its advantages.