Sundays are the worst.
This week has been full of activities and I’m glad that it’s finally over, but then again it’s Sunday, and Sunday is when everything calms down and I begin to reflect back on the previous week, two weeks, month, and look forward to the upcoming week, month, year, and years beyond that. Sunday is an empty hole in a tightly controlled routine. I usually feel emotional, like I do right now. I miss Lauren’s affection and conversation; I miss the excitement of departing for two years of work in another country, I miss flying several times a week; I miss driving (I didn’t think I would); I miss freedom to determine my own routine, I miss ease of communication; I miss living in a country with infrastructure; and I miss not being a minority.
Last night was a short lived experience worth reference. We had returned from a three day field trip across the southern part of the country. I was exhausted and had intended to spend the evening at home, but there happened to be a theater event going on that evening (it was more like a talent show) and another PCV’s host sister was scheduled to perform in a dance. Carolyn (the PCV) came by and we chatted for awhile until her sister stopped by. Her sister was so excited, she was all smiles and had all sorts of spring in her step, it was cute. We picked up David (another PCV) who lives next door to me and we walked over to the adjacent village where the party was happening, paid 200 CFA, and went inside. We had to wait about an hour for the show to get started and the first act was a guy with a guitar who played Hotel California, a Beatles song, and another English song that I didn’t recognize. The next act was where things got interesting. A guy came out who had white paint on his body and was dressed in western clothes. We couldn’t understand what he was saying, but he kept looking directly at us and was obviously using us as a reference point for his comedy skit. And we all got the feeling that he was being really offensive. People in the crowd were throwing money at him in what appeared to be an active participation in his performance. It was an extremely awkward situation to be in. I looked over at Carolyn and said that I didn’t want to stay, she went ahead and decided to stick it out with another PCV and I returned home with David. It was one of, if not the most, awkward moments since we have arrived in village. I still don’t know what happened afterwards; have not seen either of the two who stayed, hopefully that was the extent of things. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but who knows, we didn’t understand what was going on.
And now there are the needs, chores to do. I need to go gather water from the river tonight, need to rinse my clothes (I already washed them), need to take a shower, need to eat, and I really need to study French. Everything takes so much more time here. I have an exam coming up on Tuesday. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t speak French all that well. So I should probably work on that. Looks like I’ve got some quality dictionary time coming up for tonight.
Hello everyone, I’ve been in the capital of
We’ve been attending educational sessions all day every day. So far we have learned about fevers, malaria, shown how to make a slide with our blood, visited the health clinic (which is amazing), visited the peace corps office (nice too), received vaccinations for Typhoid, Diphtheria/Tetanus, Yellow Fever, Polio, Meningitis, and Rabies, learned how to use a kerosene lamp, cook with a gas stove, handle our initial experience meeting our host families, met the ambassador, received a security briefing, gone out to the bar twice, had lots of good food, sized and fitted for bicycles/helmets, taken a French placement exam, tomorrow we have a discussion about diarrhea and will receive our medical kits.
The next stage is the meeting of our host families. They will be providing me a place to stay while I am in training and will cook for me three times a day. They might speak a few words of English, and at least one member of the family will speak French. From what I have heard this is really going to be pretty intense. We are talking the real deal, chiefs, dancing, music, huge celebration when we show up, little children running up and hauling luggage over their heads, parading through the village. So it could be pretty exciting. This village has never housed Peace Corps volunteers before and apparently they are pretty pumped about it.