23 June 2013

My cat is ridiculous … and allergic to onions

A couple nights ago, a coworker threw a party (at my boss's house, because that's how international development workers roll). We played the "Hat Game," which if you aren't familiar with, hit me up - best party game ever. But it's not the focus of this post.

My task for the party was to bring sandwich fixings, guacamole, and bread.

First off, shout out to my awesome girlfriend who gave me some ready-made green chili enchilada sauce that I thought would be awesome to add to guac. I actually hesitated to use it, because I thought she might be sad that I used it for a party rather than for myself (she gave it to me because she knows how rarely I cook when alone), but then I realized how silly I was being, and that any use that made me smile would make her glad she gave it to me - she's awesome like that. (Also, I now have a ton of guac for myself that didn't get eaten at the party. So, win-win. And here ends the part of the post where I make the reader sick with how cute we are.)

But for sandwiches, I cut up tomatoes and onions. Now, onions in this country are FIERCE - cut up 2 onions and it's like you've watched "Turner and Hooch." Any more than that and you've gone full emo.

So I'm in the kitchen screaming obscenities at my eyes trying to stop them from crying (not effective, FYI), and my cat comes in to see what all the commotion is about. She lasts about two minutes before she starts sneezing uncontrollably. After a few minutes of that, she leaves. Hence my assumption that she's allergic to onions.

However, she's also ridiculous - she cannot STAND to know there is someone in the house but not in the same room. So about five minutes after fleeing the onions, she starts crying from the other room. "I know you're in there!!" And after three or four minutes of that, she recognized that just crying wasn't getting my attention - so she came *back* into the kitchen to make sure I knew she was there.

Of course, she immediately started sneezing again. But that didn't stop her from plopping down at my feet for a few minutes to make sure I knew she was there - until she couldn't take the sneezing anymore, then she sauntered back into the other room. Where she commenced crying again. Until she couldn't take it anymore ….

All in all, over the course of an hour, she came back into the kitchen seven or eight times. Sneezing the entire time she was in there. Crazy, lovable cat.

31 May 2013

Oh, right, I still technically have a blog....

As noted in my last post of a scant six months ago (!), I went on a trip. The trip was amazing! If you'd like to know all about it ... well, call me, I guess. If you'd like to know about half of it or so, you can check out the blog I linked to.

A bit after New Year's, I decided to make a not-exactly-resolution-but-at-least-a-semi-firm commitment to posting to my Twitter feed development or Burkina news at least once a day. In reality, I'm posting about once every three days, and usually about inane things like how much my car might sell for.

Short version: I fail at social media.

But oh well, because right now I have not one, but TWO inane stories to tell, and that's way too much for Twitter. So they go here instead!


In much of West Africa, Burkina y compris, the word plaisanterie refers not just to joking around in general, but to the particular phenomenon of paired ethnic groups calling each other "esclaves", "slaves." It takes a bit for someone from the southern US to get used to. But I did. It's actually a very interesting topic; I have a friend who wanted to do his PhD research on it. People from one ethnic group will only do it with people from certain other ethnic groups. It is an equalizer - a flat broke farm worker could make this kind of joke with a minister and get away with it (er, probably). I heard a story once (anecdote warning!) about a guy who was getting robbed at knife point, but recognized the other guy's ethnicity, and told the robber he couldn't rob him because he was his slave, and the guy laughed, agreed, and left. My girlfriend has a great plaisanterie story, that I'm not going to steal even though I want to....

So today I'm in a meeting. One of my colleagues, who always gets a kick out of the family name I took in village, Dabilgou, insisted on calling me by it all morning. Another colleague, who was a bit newer and hadn't heard it before, looked at me very seriously and said, "'Dabilgou' isn't a Mossi name, is it? No, it must be Gourmantché." Colleague 1 assured him that it is Mossi. Colleague 2 looked at me again and said, "No, it's Gourmantché, it must be, right?" I said, no, it is in fact Mossi. He said "Oh, that's too bad. Because, you see, I'm Sané, so I wanted to give you the chance to say it was Gourmantché, so you wouldn't be my slave."

FIVE YEARS it took to get one of those jokes aimed at me. Worth it.

[EDIT: I forgot the end of the story. I held his hand to show my appreciation of his joke. Because that is what you do here. Also, stay tuned to see if I have to correct what might be a pretty embarrassing pronoun error!]

Curses in Ouaga2000

An expat I know who lives in Ouaga2000 is certain that she is being cursed. Weird objects appear in the road outside of her home. Chickens with their throats cut. Canaris (clay pots) filled with random objects. Right in the middle of the road. Curses seem a pretty good explanation. Especially when you are extremely rich by local standards.

But of course, you can also actually ask people. Someone (not me) did. Turns out, those things are indeed related to wok magic, but they're not curses, they're GOOD luck. For the person doing it, it's not directed at anyone else. It's to do with when a car hits it, the good luck gets scattered into the world, or something like that. So why do it in the rich neighborhood? Because no one will steal it there.

I don't think I'll tell my friend. This way's more fun.