Monday, September 6, 2010

Affectation

There were 76 new volunteers to get to their sites so we went out in groups. Each group had a car and driver to deliver all their things from home and things they had acquired with their moving in allowance. I was at the end of the line and was affectated alone, but I had a very good experience. My drive is a Burkenibé who has been with the Peace Corps for 25 years. He put my bike on top of the 4 X 4 vehicle and put in all my stuff from home and things I bought in Oauga and off we went to find a corner where folks were selling the things I still needed, like buckets, plastic chairs and a table, and so on. After picking out what I wanted and discussing the virtues of this kind of stove or battery operated LED lantern we got down the Burkenia game of negotiating and disputing the prices of things. I was grateful for a list the Peace Corps had provided of typical prices volunteers had reported paying in the past. It helped in the discussion and kept us from paying way too much for some items.

I had been told to go to the Gendarmery to meet a person who would guide me to my new home. The information I had was that it would be a new house with three rooms and an indoor bathing place (more about African bucket baths in a later blog, I promise), When I arrived I found the house is about 75 years old, probably built by European missionaries or NGO folks. It has a large living/dining area, and “kitchen” of sorts, three bedrooms, and a bath room that used to have a toilet and shower. The place the toilet was still has one of those overhead water tanks like you see in old European places, and you can see where tile has been put over the place the toilet was. There is a storage area that could have been a linen cupboard. All of the walls were painted at one time, but the paint is chipped and the roof leaked (or leaks) so the walls are streaked with water stains. Hopefully the roof is fixed, but I think I will wait until the rainy season is over to see if that is true. The floor of the living/dining area, kitchen and hall are tiled with the little ceramic tiles (about 1 cm square). The kitchen has a narrow counter and a sink along one wall, but the sink hole would drain on the floor if I did not put a bucket under it. There is a pipe coming out of the wall, but it is plugged up. My driver said he thought there used to be a water tower for the house that would have provided running water.

My community homologue has been taking good care of me. She went with us to look for gas (propane) for my stove, and had her kids filled up my water tank (a 100 liter garbage can). When we could not find gas for my stove, she brought over her propane tank. I think she cooks in the traditional way, on a wood burning stove, so I guess her family will not starve. There does not appear to be any propane in Burkina Faso.

I did have an adventure today. I got to go to a celebration for the onion and rice cooperative group. They were primarily showing off their building for storing onions and telling people from several other communities how they were successful. All the speeches and discussions were in Moore, but it was still interesting, even though I did not understand a word. I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at my community homologue’s dolo (Burkina homemade beer, made from millet and sugar in three days) concession at the march√©. I think I may have helped her business because I am such a curiosity. I tried to say some things in Moore and they found that quite amusing. I had a good time.

The community is much as advertised: no electricity or running water and families living in separate houses or in small compounds of related folks. The paved road runs through the middle of town, between two bigger cities, but the rest of the roads are dirt, and many are just paths. People walk, bike, ride in donkey carts, or tear around on motos. In the center of town some of the shops have electricity, but that does not seem to extend to private houses so my house is like the norm in that regard.

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