Oct 7, 2008

Highs, Lows, and Donkeys...

Amidou (shown left grilling corn in the courtyard) told me he would be going to Ouahigouya to run some errands for the primary school so I took the opportunity to come, help him out and use the internet! On the ride over here the bus broke down twice and we arrived 3 hours late. In other words, a typical day for transport.
If I could sum up these past couple of weeks in one word, it would be BOREDOM. I knew this experience would be tough and challenging but I never really expected BOREDOM. The all-caps is done purposely. If you live anywhere in N. America, you have no idea of its true definition. For example, if you are bored you can go to the park, to the movies, shopping, watch TV., play on the computer or even go to the gym. But here, when you are BORED there is literally nothing to do. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Nothing. Highlights of my day included going to the water pump, (picture above) washing my clothes, and having tea in my courtyard with a group of men who sit for hours talking in a local language I don’t understand. One can only read so many books and complete (O.K, attempt) so many Sudokus. The volunteer before me left a “Cracking the GRE” book and I’ve been reading it for fun, seriously contemplating studying and taking the GRE. If that doesn’t scream BOREDOM I don’t know what does! Luckily it didn’t hit me until week 3 after Sita, my friend , personal tour guide and running partner returned to Ouaga.
Luckily, this period didn’t last too long because this week, school has started! (In all my life I’ve never been so excited for the start of school). The first day was mostly just a long meeting for teachers but I got to see most of the young students of the primary (like elementary) school (picture above.) Even though I’m not here to teach, I emphasized to the director how much I want to help out. With more than 500 students and a shortage of teachers (right now there are 5, one whom is pregnant and will be arriving later) they are obviously grateful. I'll be helping out as a teacher’s aid for a couple of the teachers in the classroom plus I volunteered to be in charge of any sports/recreational activities! Things are finally getting started and I’m anxious to get busy! The past couple of weeks have been tough but I know over the next 23 months there will be plenty of highs and lows, excitements and BOREDOMS, the good and the bad.
In the meantime I’ve continued biking to and from Djibo once a week. At first it was fun and exciting but now it’s slowly becoming frustrating. Every time I bike I feel like I go so slow and it always takes me much longer than it should. Its hot, exhausting and having men young and old follow/try to race me so they can be close to the Nassarra on the nice bike when Im dripping sweat and dreading how much farther I still have….not always fun. I thought it would be great exercise and help tone down my carb-loaded belly but all it has given me so far are calves the size of a WWF wrestler on steroids. But anything is better than being stuck in a broken down bus so I grit my teeth, suck it up and swear under my breath up and down the dirt road.
Thought I’d end with another little incident that occurred. So I get a call from mom in the midst of my BOREDOM period. Obviously I’m thrilled. I step outside and lean against the wall to get some fresh air and privacy. A few minutes into our conversation a sudden movement nearby catches my eye and I look up. It looks up too, and straight at me. We stare at each other and in my head I’m begging for it not to do it. My telepathic pleading doesn’t work. It opens its huge mouth and releases…The Sound. How can I describe The Sound. Imagine the screams of someone going through the most excruciatingly painful experience ever. Imagine a saw cutting through metal, kids playing on a rusty seesaw and a woman scratching her 5 inch nails down a dry chalkboard. Add in the sounds of 2 people having loud obnoxious sex after a particularly long and angry fight. Mix it all together and you get…
Mom: Emilie…what the HELL was that?
Me: (Sigh)…that mom, would be a donkey
I believe that a braying donkey is one of the worst, most annoying sounds ever. But at the same time, I guess not everyone can say they’ve had a call from mom literally interrupted by an ass!