Saturday, June 30, 2007

Aaand boom goes the dynamite

It is saturday here in Burkina, which means Im back at the internet cafe. Okay, picture time. I was a big spender and paid for 2 hours here instead of my usual one, so we might actually get some pictures uploaded. I dont know how big these will end up, but this whole thing is a learning process anyway. This first one is a HUGE baobab tree down the way from my quarter of the village. It is huge and pretty lion king african.

Okay, this next one is of laundry day here in my courtyard. I keep trying to do it myself so that I wont be helpless when I move to my next village, but the kids here wont let me do anything on my own. Adlai and I were talking about it and we decided that it is like we are infant-kings here. No one expects anything from of us, and they take care of us like we are little children (and get ridiculously happy when we get an entire sentence of Mooré out without messing up). But at the same time they really respect us and listen to what we have to say. Its a bit like the movie with Robert Redford and the last emperor in China, or something to that effect. Either way, when I pull up to my house I have about two dozen children running in from the fields to help me put my bike into my house.

Who is this Adlai character, you ask? Hes a faux type that lives down the street from me and weirds everyone out by constantly trying to sell furniture, trinkets, and fake pearl earrings. Just kidding, he is actually another volunteer that lives in the same village as me, and we are in the same language class. Here is a picture of us back in Ouahigouya last week.

That was a few days ago (I think); the days seem to blend together. Alright, here is a picture of my village, with a mosque in the center. It is beautiful when the sun starts to set, and now that the rains have started grass is beginning to grow and everything is a little greener. I wish you all could see it. Well, I guess that last sentence is true, but if any of you actually decide to come visit I might have to talk you into Ghana, they have Dr. Pepper.

I hope that is big enough to see. I stopped on the way home from the city the other evening and took this picture from the road. In Africa, or at least this corner of Burkina, you can actually see the sun when it gets low enough, and if you have enough clouds you can actually look at it. At one point two nights ago I looked in one direction and saw the moon going up, and in the other saw the sun settling down. It was pretty nice, and reminded me of the time Wisdom became poetic and told us how lucky he was to see the sun rise on the East Coast, and within the same week, see the sun set over the West. Ha.

Okay, I am really hoping this works, so Im gonna send it while I still have some time left. Love you guys and hope you are well. Clay

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Okay, Ive got 20 minutes

Hey, first of all, I have no idea how to do an apostrophe on this french keyboard, so Im not even going to try right now since I dont have much time. The rains have come, and the cooler weather is great. It still gets into the hundreds, especially in the village where I live, but its a lot better than 120, and a cold drink every few days makes everything perfect. A few of the city people are coming into the villages after our soccer game today to spend the night with us, I cant wait! They have fans, electrical appliances, cold drinks, and ridiculously good food every day, so its going to be great seeing all of them out in the village. My Mooré is starting to get better, so Ive been practicing with the kids each evening before I finally go to bed at 8 30 every night. Things are still hard, actually not things, just one thing - missing everybody is by far the hardest thing Ive ever had to go through in my life, but this is such a good experience. Tomorrow will make it 3 weeks since I left for Philadelphia, and Im honestly surprised that Ive made it this far. Whats an average day like here? Ill try to explain:
6 15ish - I wake up and take a bucket bath, which is by far my favorite part of the day. Its the only time I have to myself and its great to watch the sky take shape and feel the wind and cold water before the sun heats everything up. After that I have beignets and coffee, my french press is one of my favorite things in the world right now, and a certain Aunt will be getting a letter in the mail very soon explaining how much I love it.
8 - Language class usually consists of french and mooré and me sitting outside on a rug looking at the village and everything and being half freaked out that Im here and half loving it with all my heart.
12ish - lunch time and a nap
2 - more language classes until 5 30ish, when i go back to my house and straighten up my house and courtyard, and hang out until dinner.
rinse. repeat.
As you can see, things are really structured right now, and its actually pretty hard. Once Im an actual volunteer Ill have tons of flexibility and free time, but right now its all about culture classes and language classes. Its great, though, and Im learning a lot. I stepped over a snake a couple nights ago, and I probably jumped 10 feet into the air, but other than that Ive been healthy and out of danger. Okay, I dont have enough time to send pictures. Tomorrow is our day off, so after I get a couple beers with everybody Ill come back and see if I can get some on. Trust me, I actually am in Africa, haha. Alright, love you guys and hope you are doing well. Clay.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

And the spurs won the finals

When did this happen? I had to google search the NBA finals just to find out, like it happened too long ago to still be news. Also, Dale Jr. signed with a new team. Awesome. What isn`t awesome, my lack of pictures for you. The internet café is crowded today and I`m stuck with an older computer that can`t handle my camera. I`ll get some sent out sometime next week though. Everything is slooooow here in Burkina right now; it`s the rainy season, but the sky hasn`t opened up yet. What is the opening sentence to Grapes of Wrath? Whatever it is, it`s like that. Anyways my point is that I`m slow in doing this right now too, but I am going to get proactive about getting a cellphone next week or the week after and we can text and call and all that jazz. Love you guys and hope you are safe and sound, Clay

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Safe and Sound

Hey guys, I have arrived. Sorry if you've been checking, but it's a bit harder than I thought. Training has been intense and our breaks are only enough time for me to head home in the evenings and take care of my house and my bucket baths and all of that. Other than the fact that I miss all of you, this is exactly the life I've dreamt of having for the last year or so, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. Every day so far has basically been the scariest day of my life, but I guess that's what it's all about, and the peace corps takes great care of us. I'll upload pictures this weekend at the latest. My village is awesome and I live about a 30 minute bike ride from the city. I wake up each morning to the sounds of horses, cows, water getting fetched, greetings in French and Moore, goats, sheep, camels [yes, camels], and my family buying me bread. And at night, the stars are beautiful and they seem to drip out of the sky. I love y'all, and you have no idea how much you're here with me right now. I'll end with my journal entry from two nights ago, sorry but I never use commas or anything related to punctuation when I write for myself...

in africa the night is the night and little else. it begins early and to keep myself occupied i meditate and write and study my french and african languages and read and think of dr. pepper and fat tire and mexican food and the shortcut to work in the morning and my family and friends and lilly and ronald back home. i think of these last thoughts until it is no longer a vacation to do so and then i work on my languages for a while until i can go to sleep. thinking of family and friends isn't dangerous as long as you think of specifics; it gets bad when they connect themselves and then you know you'll be awake until early in the morning. I mean that it's good to miss your momma and then dr pepper and then a snickers bar, it gets rid of the 110 degree heat and the mosquitoes and you are happy to do it. but then you remember the time when you were in middle school and got your braces off and had planned to go with your mom to the gas station on fm 685 on the way home from school and buy a dr pepper and a king size snickers bar to celebrate being able to eat those things again. and when you get to the gas station your mom only has enough change to get a regular snickers bar instead of the larger one, but you are happy to take it because you realize for the first time that your mother is a human being just like anyone else and probably had other things to do than think all day about candy at a gas station, and finding that out makes everything she does better and you are so glad to have her for a momma and at the age of 12 or 13 you want to repay her and make all the work she put into you worth it. that is the point when missing people is no longer a vacation and you wish you hadn't started in the first place. but, make no mistake about it, you are always glad to have people to think about and daylight is always less than 12 hours away and then there is work to do to keep busy.