Saturday, August 14, 2010

I've Been A Bad Updater Person

Sorry I havent updated like I wanted but seriously so much happens here I forget or I dont have enough time. So I received my local language which is Dagara a language spoken by approximately 1 million in Northwest Ghana and Southeastern Burkina. The Dagara are known as the Indians of Burkina Faso in part because they fought off the French with bows and arrows when they came to colonize. I think thats pretty coo. I intentionally left the l off there. Im moving to a village with a population less than 2000 and Ill be in a jungle like region I think, thats damn close to Ghana. There will be lots of vegetation there and I hear its pretty. Our official swear-in date is the 27th so in less than two weeks I'll be sworn in as a volunteer! Not that Im counting down the days until the end of training or anything. But I am. Ill probably post pics next time Im here but I have to figure out how first. Ciao!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

There and Here: A Dichotomy

First of all bigups to Miss Mary G for the care package you sent. You blew my Mom's package out of the water. No offense Mom, but this is mainly because my Mom's package included things that are readily available anywhere in Burkina Faso. Like peanuts. I already opened the One Ups when I was really sick. And the cookies are fantabulous thank you for baking for me. That was definitely an all star care package. I told my mom you had surpassed her because she sent me safety pins among other things. No I'm serious. Love you Mommy.

Moving along. I went to Church with my host family today and it was almost like I walked into the past. I saw so many things that reminded me of a traditional black church in America, the connection was palpable. For starters, the service was extraordinarily long, three hours to be exact. The very large church was packed and half the people attending had to sit outside including us. At least one third of the service was filled with song and some dance. There was clapping to the music and the obligatory woman who gets really into it and sways back and forth with her arms in the air.

There wasn't the showing out that you see at some Baptist churches. You know the woman who falls out on the floor and yells 'Praise Him!' or 'He is worthy!' repeatedly. I think on our journey from West Africa we brought a lot of our traditions with us, but some of them have become exaggerated. For example, the bright colors remain in the church, but instead of bright headscarves there are bright, giant, showy hats. The girls still come in fresh plaits and their finest dresses. They're saying the some of the same things in the sermon. At least I think they are since the sermon was half French and half Moore. The music even has a similar rhythm to what you might hear in a Southern Baptist church it's the language that's different. When did Christianity come to West Africa? I have some research to do.

So I've arrived in my new host family. They're rich. Rich for here. At first I was a little dismayed by this since the whole point of the host family experience is to immerse yourself and prepare for what your life will be like at site. As a health volunteer, my life will almost certainly be the opposite of this (no running water or electricity). But my roommate Viola convinced me I'd have plenty of time to get used to that at site. I hope she's right. Viola's a retired account executive who worked in PR/Marketing for 30 years. She can't stand just playing golf so she joined the Peace Corps. I admire her. She's like a forward-thinking person who fears nothing. Well my time's running out now so tooodles!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woo Hoo a Blog Update

This dog is named Buddha. He's a cutie pie.
Some health volunteers n Buddha.

Hey people,
First things first: My health-- c'est bon! Today for the first time since I got here, I ate full meals. Like full meals comparable to ones I would eat in the US. With each day that passes, a little bit more Lariam (the malaria meds Google it now) leaves my body and I feel better and my appetite returns more and my mood balances out too. Fun fact, did you know that the military is banned from using Lariam because of its history of side effects? Well now you know!

So what's new and interesting in the fun-filled and packed days we have here? This weekend we did what's called "Demystification" which is where they "De-mystify" what the life of an actual volunteer is like. I went with a group of like 8 which is too many to one volunteer's site in the South of Burkina which was literally sweet. Why? Because it's filled with mangoes! Sorry to use so many exclamation points, but c'est vrai, it's mango season all year long in Southern Burkina. And the climate is more jungle-like but with mountains and Shea Butter trees! And veggies and fruits growing, mango factories, chiller people than in the North and puppies playing on the side of the road. Sounds like some sort of Ashley paradise right? So you know Ashley's gonna try to influence shit so she can live there right? Mais oui!

And c'est moi so you know I took pictures right which I will post later of course.

Tired of my Franglais??? That's too bad I don't care.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Okay So...

Right didn't mean to scare people with my last post. I'm fine, but yeah I felt really sick a few days ago. I'm still not like 100% yet, but I'm 100% better than I was. Yeah, in other news, we've been moving a lot and we're unexpectedly back in Ouagadougou now and will be here for the next few weeks. At least I'll be able to get packages quicker =D.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm On Limited Time!

What the title said. Ok I didn't write this post out beforehand like I shouldve knowing I have to pay by the hour for internet and the keyboards here are very different. Anyway, I'm in Ouahigouya near our training site and I just moved in with my host family two nights ago and they are reeally sweet. Every morning my mom makes me tea and leaves bread out for me for when I go to training. Also one of my little sisters and my Papa wait for me to come home at the end of the day. My Papa speaks fluent French and Moore. At least one of my sisters speak French the rest speak Moore only. The first night I thought mice lived in my ceiling but it turned out they were just bats. A giant National Geographic spider crawled into my bed. My family has several sheep but they look like goats. Health volunteers live in villages and have to bike to training which stinks like dog poo. Our village is the closest one and its still 10 km. I have been very ill and unable to eat for the past week or so but today Im much better. My appetite was low when I got here and Im sure some of you have heard of the wacky shit many people go through taking anti-malaria pills. A few have hallucinations many have vivid dreams and and extremely small number experience psychosis from this med but most people are fine. Well the malaria shit destroyed what little appetite i had left and my body began actively rejecting food. Some days I couldnt have more than a banana and a piece of bread that was all I could take. The nurse was very understanding though and now i can eat fruits and and small portions of regular food. I cant stop taking the malaria med though so there is no alternative. Its much better and i dont fall asleep in the middle of the day anymore because ive had nothing to eat or what i ate my body threw it back up.

I can check the internet more often now during training btw so i'll be on at least once a week.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Hey everyone it's me. Obviously I should be in bed right now, but again, it's me so I'm still up.

2 things:

1. I seriously fear how stuffed my luggage is. I fear in the airport my duffel bag will spring open and the contents inside will fling open and injure a small child. It is possible. I tried weighing my carry-ons. The limit is 50 lbs for one and guess how big my first one was. That's right Jimmy, it was exactly 50 lbs. I just realized I have to dump shit out of my second bag at least 10 lbs worth in order to board the flight.

2. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who thought of me and made me feel special my last days in the U.S. I truly appreciate people who took time out of their schedules to drive across the state and drive me to a theme park (no names) and people who came from the northeast visiting relatives and made their relatives come pick me up so we could hang out in Richmond (again no names). And people who gave me a crap-ton of music including Jamiroquai that I could bop my feet to on the plane (...). People who made time to Skype and wish me well in various ways I will do my best to stay in touch and update you with "the happenins". I fucking need to sleep now. Out like a trout.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Books, Books, Books!

Now, I'd like to take a minute to ask people if they have any suggestions for good books or any good reading I might be interested in, in case I have lots and lots of free time on my hands.

Big ups to Meagan who recommended The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. I generally read nonfiction exclusively, but I might want some escapism from time to time so if you have any book suggestions for me, I would be much obliged.

Also, don't recommend any of the books in the picture above because they look like they're dulllll.