Because I was in Ouahigouya for the MAP Conference already, I decided to take a trip to visit my host family in Komsilga one last time. Coincidentally, all of us that lived in Komsilga (our host village) during training two years ago (Marita, Coleman, Charley and I) were all in Ouahigouya at the same time and decided it would be best if we all biked together!
We headed out the day after the MAP Conference in the morning, buying little gifts for our host families in town (mangoes, bread, coffee, etc.) and took the less-than-an-hour-but-always-seems-longer-because-of-the-heat bike ride to Komsilga. Biking there was just like I remembered it -- but I felt like I completely different person biking there. Like I was truly coming full circle with my Peace Corps service.
Coming down the hill when you first arrive in Komsilga, it looks like this. Literally, in the middle of (seemingly) nowhere. Here's a good shot of Coleman and Marita biking in, with the Komsilga sign in the foreground and the new mosque in the background.
In Burkinabè culture, protocol is absolutely essential to follow. So we first said hi to the chief of the village, giving him kola nuts as is tradition, before visiting our host families. The chief said it meant a lot that all four of us returned, and he continued to give us benedictions of good health, that our families back home are doing well and that we continue to make this world a better place. I think when he said the last thing, I started to tear up...and it's funny because he was speaking in local language. And while I don't understand much Mooré or Jula, his facial and body expressions said it all. Powerful stuff!
We first went to visit Charley's host family because he had to leave a little earlier. Afterward, we visited Marita's and I swear, her host mom is so freakin' amazing!
Charley and his host family.
Marita with her host family.
Then it was my turn to visit 'home'...weird, because I was there almost a year ago when I was working PST as a PCVF/P. But to think I'm coming back for the last time to say goodbye to them was utterly surreal.
The great thing about my host family is that their compound is a little isolated from everyone elses. When you think stereotypical African village of huts and animals everywhere, this is it! And it's on its own little hill which makes it that much more picturesque.
My host family's compound. The hut I lived in during training in 2009 is the second from the left.
Marita and I chilling on my porch with my host dad, Mamadou, in the background.
With Charley, as this would be our last picture together in Burkina Faso before he heads off back to the U.S.
After Charley left and Coleman was still at his host family's place, Marita and I just relaxed at my host family's compound, taking a nap as if it were typical Sunday afternoon in Komsilga with no worries in the world.
We had been at my host family's for some time now, realized that the sun was setting quickly and needed to head back to Ouahigouya. So Marita and I dropped by Coleman's host family to say a quick hello before leaving.
Coleman and his multilingual host dad. Funny, funny man!
As we were biking up the little hill and heading down it to where we would no longer see Komsilga, it became bittersweet. Very bittersweet.
But I came to the realization that while it may be goodbye as a Peace Corps Volunteer, only God (or whatever greater being/force you believe in!) knows whether or not I'll return to West Africa, specifically Burkina Faso, in the future.
I'll leave you with this last photo of me in Komsilga with my host family's compound in the background...