Ading (Felicia!), here are some quick answers to some questions you wrote a while back:
1) I live in a hut that’s part of my family’s compound. Depending on your family’s ethnic group, that usually determines what type of housing situation you’re in. For example, my host family is Peulh so their compounds are usually separate huts clustered into one compound.
2) I pee/poop and bathe in two separate areas (which are right next to each other). My latrine is essentially a huge hole in the ground and the place where I bathe is simply an enclosed area for me to bring in my bucket full of water.
3) HAHAHA! No, you don’t (and probably wouldn’t) want to send me bottled water. PC provides us with water purifiers and we can also purchase bottled water/water sachets around here. Thanks though!
4) Internet access is infrequent for me since I live in village. I only get to use it when I get to Ouahigouya (the city) and will become more infrequent as training progresses since we’re getting busier and busier. Hopefully at my site, I’ll have frequent (and fast!) Internet access!
5) Unlike most other trainees, I don’t have many kids in my family…in fact, I don’t have any at all (except for a couple). The other trainees in my village and I play soccer and Frisbee with some of the other kids every once in a while at the school after our training sessions.
About a week ago, all 32 of us were invited to a wedding between a current Peace Corps volunteer and a Burkinabe woman. It was so interesting to be a part of it and definitely a cross-cultural experience you can’t get elsewhere! I didn’t take many pictures except for a few with some fellow trainees.
Devin and I at the wedding reception. Love this girl! West and East Coast represent!
Marita and I at the wedding. Love this girl too! She's in my same host/training village.
I’ve been here for about a month, so naturally, I’m beginning to feel a pull toward certain people in our group. It’s the weird feeling you get when you know that you’re probably going to be visiting these friends more than others because you feel more of a connection with them. And taking trips with them to various place (like Ghana!!). All in all, however, I love our group dynamic and how we’re from everywhere in the US! We talk about food ALL the time during training – Chinese, Mexican, Thai, American, Italian, etc. etc. – you name it, we’ve probably already drooled over it. We’ve heard Ouaga has some ethnic restaurants so I’m dying to eat at some of them soon! Speaking of training, I’m super excited about many of the things we can implement in our communities – radio programs (since many people here get their info from the radio), French and English clubs, book clubs, HIV/AIDS sensibilizations…the list is pretty much endless!
As I’ve mentioned before, the weather here is straight up CRAZY because it’s rainy season. It’ll be ridiculously hot and somewhat humid for a few days and all of a sudden, you feel the winds picking up, the clouds are dark and ominous-looking, and then you hear the thunder. When you start to see everyone run back to their houses/huts, it’s a good sign that you do the same too.
Rachel, fellow trainee, and the impending rain storm
Being caught up in one of the wind storms is no joke and I remember it being full of dust and dirt everywhere…visibility is almost at zero and all of that dirt gets in your teeth. Yuck! Then the rain starts to pour and I mean POUR. There have been 2 instances where I’ve been outside in the pre-rain ‘fun’…fortunately, I was within my compound’s reach and was able to rush back home and head into my hut! The good thing is that after it rains and clouds have cleared, it feels so good and sweating every second doesn’t happen anymore! Another positive (not related to weather) is that I’m acclimating fairly well to biking. I know I first mentioned that I hated it but I’m really starting to enjoy it and am glad I’m getting the exercise I need…now to tone up those thighs and calves (and abs...okay, maybe I'm asking for too much...). And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I'd prefer biking over walking.
Integration is generally going well. I only know the very basic greetings in the local language of my village (Moore) so it’s funny when I’m walking around village or around town and I greet people in Moore. They usually laugh and smile so hard…it’s really cool, actually! Coleman’s host dad is convinced that I’m Peulh/Fulani (one of the other ethnic groups here in Burkina Faso) which cracks me up! I’m thinking it’s because I’m getting increasingly dark but whatever…I’m taking it as another sign of integrating well with the community. Since we’re pretty much halfway done with training, it’s starting to feel a little surreal again!
While I am enjoying it here, making new friends, and definitely growing exponentially everyday, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss anyone at home! Some nights, I’ll be dreaming about home or being around friends or family, wake up with a smile, and realize I’m actually in my hut by myself. = That said, I think about you all often so you all must be biting your tongues all the time (got that one from Maria). Write me letters/send packages if you can (and often)! My address is:
Michael Berino, PCT
S/c Corps de la Paix
01 B.P. 6031
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso