Ouaga had sucked me in and now I am finally going back to my village tomorrow. I’ve had so much access to Internet that it actually made me a little crazy. So naturally I wait until my last night here to update. Why was I in Ouaga you ask? Or maybe you are wondering what is “Ouaga?” It is still Burkina Faso, but not the BF we are accustomed to in village. For example, this evening we went to the American Rec Center for an Oktoberfest put on by the US Embassy. Four different types of brats grilling, sauerkraut, potato salad, home brewed pumpkin ale and other beers. Red velvet cake, homemade cookies, apple pie type dessert. The new US Ambassador sits down at our table to chat as he is a huge fan of Peace Corps, having worked for them in the past. Where are we again?!
Our bike tour ended on September 13th when we biked into Ouaga to our transit house bringing the total of kilometers biked to around 560. We were feelin good. In the Southwest at our first stop on the tour, we spent the morning learning some traditional African dances. In the afternoon we met with a men’s group and a women’s group, separately, to talk about the differences between sex and gender and how communities could work toward equality between the sexes. At my village we discussed mosquito net usage (why you use it, who should use it, etc), did a little skit and played a game with a mosquito net. For the central tour we had a lot of malaria focused activities as well, with a couple skits in markets that drew large crowds. At another site, the youth theatre group did a play on HIV/AIDS and the importance of getting tested. We visited 10 volunteer sites on the tour and it was great to see how excited their communities were to have volunteers. We had some great village parties along the way with some amazing rice and sauce and fun community members. The bike ride was also not too bad. We got off to a slow start at the beginning leaving our first village because of flooding and bike problems. We definitely had a lot of flat tires and other bike issues throughout the weeks, but luckily we had some great drivers there to help us with spare parts and repair. Thanks Vincent and Moussa! Another volunteer who hosted and was on the tour put together a video so hopefully I can get that to you all later.
Oh and in between the two tours some of us went to the World Cup qualifier game in Ouaga: Burkina Faso vs Gabon . What an experience that was! Natalie and I got there late because I was just getting into town from bike tour. Outside the stadium was packed with cars and motos. We then had to walk around the stadium looking for tickets, as there is no official ticket window at that point. After bargaining with a guy we finally got a good deal. However, when we tried to enter our gate, the police would not let us in. There were crowds of people standing outside each gate trying to get into the game. They had oversold tickets. At one point we tried to go in the gate to the Gabon section, which was empty. Security didn’t believe us that we were fans of Gabon, so they wouldn’t let us in. Sometimes they would open the doors and let a few people in. This was when it got a little scary as people would start shoving, trying to get in. The police and gendarms (kind of like National Guard) were quick to pull out their batons to keep people back. Ahhh! Oh and did I mention the waterfall of pee spilling out from the door? Guess there were not any bathrooms inside and people didn’t want to miss the game so they would just pee up against the door. Yeaaaaah. We were finally able to get a hold of another volunteer inside. He came down to our gate and talked the policeman into letting us in. At about half time we finally made it in. Once inside it was great and we were able to watch the BF Stallions score and win 1-0. Kind of a big deal as Burkina has not qualified for the World Cup since….never? Next game is in a week against Algeria. Allez les Etalons!
After bike tour I was excited to keep up this whole working out everyday thing. I was off to a good start when I decided to bike from Banfora to Niangoloko (50km), even after being on a bus all day. However, just a few days after finishing the tour I got sick. It started as what seemed to be a mild fever, which then quickly jumped to 104 degrees. My muscles were aching as well, but thought that was from all the biking. I rested, drank ORS and took Ibuprofen to lower my fever. After lying in bed for two days with no improvement, with my fever coming and going, I called our doctor who works for Peace Corps. First I took a rapid malaria test at our clinic in village. Came back negative. I was then sent to Bobo to a clinic there and they thought the fever was being caused by a cut that was supposedly infected. I was given an antibiotic and cream. However, they still wanted to run a few other tests so I was taken to our Peace Corps medical office. I developed some weird redness on both legs. My platelet counts and liver enzymes were all over the place. They still weren’t sure what was wrong. A few days later I was diagnosed with Dengue Fever. I felt fine not too long after arriving in the med unit. It’s amazing how much A/C, good food and a comfy bed can help. Since they were waiting for my blood work to come back normal, I got stuck in Ouaga for a while.
Our med unit is in our main Peace Corps office. I felt so anxious being there! Because of this I almost felt guilty for not having much to work on while I was there as I saw several staff and volunteers working around me. I just kept thinking, the majority of my work requires me to be in village! On a positive note, I got to enjoy some good food and hang out with some volunteers I don’t get to see very much. My village is not close to Ouaga so I do not come in very often and thus do not get to see many volunteers from the region. I also got more time to talk to friends and family back home. Countdown: 74 days. I cannot wait to see you all! I will be jumping in snow in pagne clothing…this is my written commitment to the you all. It is gonna happen
Today some of us watched The Great Gatsby and I am currently listening to the soundtrack as I write to you all. LOVE the music and Leonardo DiCaprio…you are one of my few celebrity crushes from way back when who is actually still out there doing great things. After watching the movie though, my first thoughts were: I remember liking this book after reading it in our high school English class….but why? Was it because of Ms. being such an amazing teacher? Because it sure is DEPRESSING. To me, without reading too much into it all, the story is saying you can give everything for someone you love and you will still be screwed. Wow. I had more angst than I thought back then. I need to find the paper I wrote over that book. I do remember there being a lot of color analogies in there. Analyzing this story could be another blog post in itself. We’re all just chasing after that green light…but what does it represent for you? Could it be the same for us all? Have I mentioned I’ve had WAY too much time to think lately? I need to get back to my village! N bena segen na sini! K’an ben Ouaga!