You know that scene they have in cartoons where they depict an idyllic dawn, where the sun is slowly rising over the horizon? The birds begin to softly chirp, one can see the dew on the grass as the sun softly reflects off of it and then enters the rooster. The rooster begins to sound Mother Nature’s alarm cockadoodledoooooooo (The specific sound a rooster makes can be interpreted differently by different folk. See that episode of Arrested Development for further explanation). This scene is NOT accurate. As I’m typing this up, it is currently 1:28 in the morning and the roosters are already sounding the alarm. Along with the donkeys braying and dogs barking. Maybe the roosters are confused by the full moon that is out tonight? All I know is I cannot sleep for some reason. I tried journaling. I tried reading. I tried listening to music. I tried texting my sister. And now here I am typing away because I got tired of starring up at my mosquito net, lying frustrated on my now concaved shaped foam mattress. My host dad had insisted on having tea after dinner tonight and you can never turn down tea. And when I say tea, I mean West African style tea: strong, lots of sugar and drank like a shot of espresso. This could also be why I am still wide awake.
While I was journaling by headlamp, my mind was all over the place, as usual. Here are some bits and pieces:
All I want to do is make myself a chai latte…I imagine walking into a kitchen in the States, heating up water in the microwave, so easy. Then curling up under a down comforter. I could easily make chai once I get to site and have my little camping stove, but for now I can only dream. This thought might have also come to me because I put together a Christmas playlist right before I went to bed. I also added some other songs that remind me of winter, almost trying to will myself to think it is cold here. I know you can celebrate Christmas anywhere in the world, but I want snow and hats and scarves and boots! It’s the second year in a row I will be away for the holiday season. Yes this was my choice, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Trying to focus on the positives, which freak me out as the same time: I will have been at my site for only about a week and a half, settling in and adjusting to a new place, getting to know everyone, speaking only French and Jula AHHHH!
Tonight my host dad was asking me about the Mali situation. I know he was probably just trying to make conversation, but I don’t know why he asked if the crisis was going on still. “Oh no,” I wanted to say, “It was solved this week. It’s a Christmas miracle!….NOOO! It’s still all f***ed up Nouhoun! (my host dad’s name) THANKS FOR ASKING!” Okay moving on because there’s nothing I can do, but pray.
Listening to Christmas music makes me feel giddy and depressed at the same time, matching perfectly with my daily dichotomy of emotions. UP DOWN UP DOWN SANITY! You have to be a bit crazy for all of this to really work. Or adventurous or bold might be better euphemisms. After talking with the Kayero Major (Head Nurse) and COGES (Community health organization made up of about 6 members) we know we are needed here in Burkina, which is exciting and daunting at the same time. Donni, Donni! Manchi, Manchi! Petit à petit. There’s definitely a good reason these phrases exist. And I must also remember, God you put me here for a reason and you will be with me always! Needs identified from our “Needs Matrix” activity: crop variety, improved access to potable water, better education on malaria, access to secondary education, getting women to the CSPS(health clinic) for prenatal consultations and deliveries, educating on not self-medicating and getting to the CSPS sooner rather than later, hygiene education, and lack of means for medication. Looking at this list can be overwhelming, but almost all of them are linked to education. This is where we, the PCVs, come in. And even with the water pump issue, there are grants available or ways to motivate community members to raise funds to build another pump. And knowing how to fix the pump is crucial. Again, EDUCATION!
Phew! Got a bit fired up there at the end. This is the time my ideas really start flowing though, which is why in college I was always up late working on papers and projects. Or was it procrastination….? Either way, writing now is helping me to process what is we’ve learned as we near the end of training. Also, maybe it gave you an idea of what Peace Corps is all about: sustainable development at the grass-roots level, people to people, supporting and motivating communities to find their own solutions.
I’ll leave you with the “Winter” songs I mixed in with my Christmas playlist:
- Men of Snow – Ingrid Michaelson
- Mark Mothersbaug:Snowflake Music- Rushmore Soundtrack
- Winter Woman – Good Show Great Show
- Winter – Joshua Radin
- Hot Summer Night – Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
- Winter Winds – Mumford and Sons
- South for the Winter – River City Extension
- Winter Song –The Head and the Heart
- Refuge(When It’s Cold Outside) – John Legend
- Belles – Andrew Bird
- A Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon and Garfunkel
- Whispers in the Dark – Mumford and Sons
- The Hat – Ingrid Michaelson
- Roslyn – Bon Iver
- Faded From the Winter – Iron and Wine
- Mushaboom – Feist
- Blood Bank – Bon Iver
- Shelter – Ray LaMontagne
- Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams
- The Garden You Planted – Sea Wolf
- Stubborn Love – The Lumineers
- Changing Seasons –Sea Wolf
- Stay Where I Can See You – The Starting Line
- Leftovers – Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit
- Black Swan Song – Athlete
- Lifetime – Steve Moakler
- Lovers Hymn – Skypiper
- Delicate – Damien Rice