Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween and Birthday festivities continued...

So I'm back in Gaoua for the day with Jon...just to buy a couple of things and check the Poste (post office) for anything. Last weekend, several of us met up in Gaoua for Halloween/23rd Birthday festivities! Marita and Julie came first and we ate at one of our normal hang-outs...then Leslie came and it was really like a mini-reunion for all of us. Head to Kyle's and because he has electricity and his laptop, we watched movies like no other (plus it was starting to rain so it was perfect for being indoors)...movies like one of my all-time favorites: Mean Girls!! Headed back en ville (downtown/in the city centre) to grab some dinner and Emily eventually made it! It was my first time experiencing the nightlife in Gaoua and I have to was pretty good. Some cold beers + PC friends + music/dancing + really chilly night weather = a good time! Whenever we go out, there are always Burkinabè guys flirting/hitting on female volunteers so us male volunteers play the role of boyfriends/husbands...which is always lots of fun! Turns out those 4 years of acting/theatre really helped in high school. =)

The next day, all 6 of us took a bus to Jon's site because there was a huge fete (party). He lives in more of a village so it was a big deal. One of the highlights was archery which is big in Lobi culture. Toward the end of the day, we bike back to my site (about 17km south of Jon's) and I make village tacos & mixed veggies for dinner plus canned peaches & pears for dessert. Basically, I opened up a lot of my canned food but it was totally worth it!

Believe it or not, we somehow found a pumpkin leaving Jon's site, so when we got to my site, we did a little pumpkin carving to truly celebrate our Halloween celebration in BF. Ignore the Pert shampoo bottle...inside joke...

The following day, we bike the 19km to the Loropeni Ruins...since I'm too lazy to explain what it is, here's a brief explanation from Wikipedia:
  • Loropéni is a market town in southern Burkina Faso, lying west of Gaoua. Local features include pre-European stone ruins, about which little is known. One theory is that they formed the enclosure of the courtyard of a Kaan Iya (king or paramount ruler of the Kaan people) from antiquity. There is a similar, though much-degraded ruin around the current royal courtyard in Obiré. Another theory is that the ruins may have been a slave holding site for slave raids in the area.

  • The Loropéni ruins were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009. The ruins are the country's first World Heritage inscription. Surrounded by mystery, the 11,130m2 property is made up of an array of stone walls. Loropéni is the best preserved example of a type of fortified settlement in a wide part of West Africa, linked to the tradition of gold mining, which seems to have persisted through at least seven centuries. Loropéni, given its size and scope reflects a type of structure quite different from the walled towns of what is now Nigeria, or the cities of the upper reaches of the river Niger which flourished as part of the Empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. It thus can be seen as an exceptional testimony to the settlement response generated by the gold trade.
It was quite a bike ride but I think it's amazing that I don't live that far away from a World Heritage site! I'll let the pictures and little captions tell of our adventure over there...other people took better pictures of our adventures this weekend but these are the ones I have on my camera:

Outside the Loropeni Ruins. The first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Burkina Faso (just got accepted to the list this year). AND I live only 19km away!

Yours truly outside the Loropeni Ruins. According to Leslie (she read this somewhere), these rocks were put together with honey and shea butter.

Marita and Julie inside the Ruins.

Emily and I looking off into the distance...wearing our Obama gear. Gotta represent Obama in Africa!

Biking back was harder than I thought but I was able to show everyone my site's centre-ville and for dinner, I made something that I've crafted as my specialty: Mikey's Minestrone Soup (noodles, tomatoes, onions, garlic, a little bit of powdered milk to thicken it, tomato paste, lots of spices/salt) and Grilled Vache Qui Rit Cheese Sandwiches...delicious!

Everyone left to head back to their sites on Tuesday and it meant back to work for me = continuing class observations at the Ecole Primaire. It's been no doubt an interesting experience and as I said in my last entry, I'm getting more and more ideas for projects. I realized that many students have trouble reading aloud and I think starting some type of Reading/Book Club would be a good idea. Observing classes really forces me to think of creative ways to make school more interesting for kids here so that they're more likely to continue their studies until high school and beyond. I'm observing classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday all the way way up until December when I have VAC and I'm keeping myself busy.

Aaaaand I'm starting to really love my site. I think it really has to do with the fact that I chat it up a lot with my neighbors (Ali's family -- the Ouattara's) everyday and kind of see them as my own family here. I was reading on my porch one afternoon and it was getting really dark. Madame Ouattara (Ali's aunt) comes by and tells me not to read in the dark because I'll ruin my eyes...something my Mom would tell me back home, haha! They even make the most delicious peanut brittle and toffee hard candies I've ever had. Jon and I are addicted! I even invited the Ouattaras over at the end of the month to celebrate Thanksgiving with me so we're going to have American and Burkinabè dishes! Now if I can only think of a way to cook a Filipino dish, too...


Anonymous said...

Michael, my love.I wrote you a really heart felt email on facebook and then a few hours later I deleted my facebook. So I don't know if you got it or not. I was feeling very emotional and lonely that night. I was sitting at my desk and staring at the screen for an hour in the dark trying to not think or feel... I tried so hard to feel numb that I actually made things worse for me and ended up thinking about my situations even more. Despite this, I couldn't physically cry. I am so fed up. My eyes are dry but emotionally I'm dry heaving. For some reason some sort of intangible force has taken a hold of my body... Emotionally feeling one way, and physically reacting in the opposite way.

I read your blogs as an escape. I read them because you inspire me and give me hope for the future. Your diction is so well pronounced and I find your way of living romantic and exciting. I live as you live and I relate. But I'm also excited that you are assimilating well into the Burkina Faso culture and making new friends and having fun and seeing new places. I'm very envious of you. I am seriously considering applying for the Peace Corps.

Anyways, I miss you. And out of all the friendships that I've had, YOU are the one I've felt the most at ease with... That I have nothing to mask and hold back. I can comfortably be myself. And you are the only one I've felt this with. I'm sorry I didn't keep in touch as much as I would've liked. But I want you to know that you're the best and that I know you will achieve great things.

Keep in touch. Let me know if you'd like me to send you any goodies. Love you. I am so blessed to have you as a friend. Happy belated birthday. Send me a message some time. Would love to have a personal email from you!!!

Your Ate Nikki

Gina said...

Michael!! I'm glad you're loving your community. I wonder if you're using any of your wicked french? hahah. make some new inside jokes! Spogliami! Tell me what you're craving, because I really want to send you a package. :D

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...


I am new here and I just wanted to say hi!