Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving au Burkina Faso

Ahhh yes, my second (and last!) Thanksgiving in Burkina Faso. And I spent it at site! I invited the other volunteers in my area and a few could come -- Jane, Brenda and Shannon. Fun times were had. Good food was had! Lots of magazine reading and hilarious moments with Hercules (thank God all of us love dogs!). And laying on my porch, talking and watching the stars.

I think that's why I love Thanksgiving so much -- a reason to get together with family, eat good food and be grateful for all the blessings in your life. =)

Hercules! All my neighbors think it's funny that I pick up Hercules like this because the way they treat dogs in Burkina Faso is dramatically different from how they do it in the U.S.

Jane, our official Thanksgiving taste-tester. Completely needed!

Peeling potatoes on the porch. Homemade mashed potatoes, anyone?

A Thanksgiving feast, Burkina-style!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I remember telling myself this almost a year and a half ago when I was a trainee up in Ouahigouya: that I know that I've reached the beginning of the end of my service when two of the biggest events in Burkina Faso happen - FESPACO (the film festival) and SIAO (the artisan festival)!

SIAO is the first of the two, meaning 'Salon International de l'Artisanat de Ouagadougou.' It's probably one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, display of African art and culture in the entire continent of Africa. And it's happening right here in Burkina Faso! People from all over Africa and even some from around the world come to display and sell what they have to offer.

It's literally a feast for the eyes (and the wallet)...Ghana fabrics, bronze sculptures, fruit jams from the Congo...the list is truly endless and they have just about everything. I only wish I could've spent more than one afternoon there to truly enjoy everything. Sadly, I didn't take many pictures except of the cotton candy machine they had there. A cotton candy machine! For those of you that don't understand the magnitude of how amazingly awesome this is, I haven't had cotton candy in a fair since I was...well, really, really little. SO this is great! In the middle of West Africa!

At the end of it all, I got some cool Ghana fabric, a couple of nifty tee shirts and some Touraeg silver jewelry. Overall, a great experience!

Leslie and I waiting for cotton candy. In Burkina Faso. Whaaat?! Still blows my mind.

So amazing. Seriously, haha!

Gwen got us matching fabric/shirts. Imagine that, a country where wearing the same outfit is actually a good thing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back at site: second year, let's go!

After my amazing trip back home from Americaland, it was back to Burkina Faso and the start of a great milestone in my Peace Corps service: the beginning of my second and final year!

When I got back to site in the beginning of October (with a crazy-busy schedule of working PST and going back home the couple of months prior), the feeling was different. A GOOD different. Like I felt more at ease than I've ever felt before. Like I had more of my niche. French seemed to roll off the tongue more. Jula (at least the basic greetings) were easier to go through. Biking around town and near my house, people would shout my name or I'd just recognize more people/friends. In all, things just felt more natural...

...except for work. Someone should have told me that the first trimester of your second year as a GEE PCV will still require a lot of patience! I arrive in October, Action Plan in-hand, ready to get started projects immediately until I realized how debilitating going through protocol can be here in Burkina Faso -- greeting all the authorities, making your work plans known, waiting for their approval and whatnot. Sheesh! For almost more than a month, I was pretty much waiting to get primary work projects started. Fortunately, it seemed to be the same for my other fellow GEE PCVs in my training group.

Such is the life living in another country. At the end of the day, you just enjoy the experience you've been given and appreciate the company of friends and 'family' here in Burkina Faso...and I did just that. Enjoy the pictures!

Grace-Victoire and I. Grace is my neighbor (Madame Constance's) daughter. Super cute! She used to be scared of me but now I think she's grown a little attached to me now. =)

Jon and his gift of Hostess cupcakes, his one request when I came back from America. Funny thing is, you can't see how flat they became, haha.

"Helping out" my friend Clémence fan the charcoal to cook food. She cracks me up everyday!

Aicha with Albertine and Clémence making her infamous caramel toffee ball candies. Mmmm!

A closer look at the caramel toffee balls...oh Ali. I don't know how this kid learned the middle

Now that Grace can start walking, she likes playing this game of hide-and-seek behind your back. Really cute!

Aicha and Madame Ouattara making their infamous gateau biscuits. Mmmm! They're so good when they're freshly cooked.

I seriously have a clothing obsession. These aren't even all the shirts I've got made here in Burkina!

So I have this outdoor kitchen area that I don't use. The door doesn't have a lock/handle so when it gets really windy or rainy, the door flies open and shuts all the time, making this really scary noise. So I tied string around it to keep the door shut. When I went home in September, I come home to discover my string was stolen. Not a big deal, right? But I decided to leave a little note in case the thief came by and wanted to guilt trip him/her. =)

Okay, so half my pictures are of Grace. Whaaat?! I can't help it - I love kids!

Cooking 'igname ragout,' one of my most favorite Burkinabè dishes. Mmm!

Some of my kids all dressed up in their party attire. They're so cute! They're celebrating Tabaski, one of the biggest Muslim holidays.

Excellent shot! Compliments of Jon.

Jon and Hercules!

Hercules and I! I don't want him to get any bigger. But seriously, one of the most adorable dogs ever. Isn't necessarily the brightest crayon in the box but he'll do...

A couple of my friends here competed in the 'Semaine Nationale de la Culture' (National Week of Culture) in Bobo. It's a biennial event that brings troupes from all over Burkina Faso to perform and compete. Mathieu was performing on the tam-tam (drum) while a couple of my other friends were doing traditional Lobi dancing. Cool stuff!

It reminded me a lot of my days when I was a kid and did Filipino folk dancing with the Maharlika and Sampaguita dance troupes. And it reminded me of my time at LMU doing PCN with IB!

My neighbors forcing me to whip out the blue boubou from Swear-In and model it for them.

Aicha being silly with Hercules. Awwww!