Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Extreme Makeover - Home Edition

Holy crap I have an amazing apartment in Ouagadougou!! It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, extremely spacious apartment, with air conditioning, a refrigerator, a balcony (!!), a stove, etc… simply ridiculous. I realize how much of a volunteer mentality I still have by the way I reacted to this place. I came here expecting more than the village lifestyle, but I was still preparing my self for the possibility of bucket baths and extreme sleep discomfort. However, this place is bigger than most apartments that most of my friends and I have in America. Once I get it set up, I’ll post some pics so you can be jealous. (heheh) If anyone wants to visit, you’ll have your own room, complete with a Queen-size bed, and your own bathroom!! Is that incentive enough???

Bizarrely, I do find that I miss some elements of the village compared to Ouaga. For instance, in the village, if I ever needed help with anything from killing a spider to welling my water, I would just have to holler to the nearest person and they’d be more than happy to take care of me. In Ouaga, I need my cell phone to find help. In village, I could get fresh cow’s milk from a woman who’d just show up at my door, honey straight from the hive from someone who’d just show up at my door, or pick local fruits off a nearby tree for a snack. In Ouaga, I have no idea where to get any of that, but I’m pretty sure I’ll mainly be shopping in an actual supermarket. This will be an entirely different ballgame than the first time I lived here.

I had my first day of work last Friday, and it felt just like America. It was a very full 8-5:30 day, complete with my own workstation, 2 meetings in the field and one in the office. They were not kidding when they said I’d hit the ground running. Between jetlag, fighting a cold, getting used to the heat again (it’s only in the 90’s for now…) and readjusting to everything being in French again, I was passed out by 10:30. I worked Saturday, too, but it was more relaxed and intermixed with personal errands for my new place.

I feel completely at ease in this country, and while it’s been an exhausting couple of days, I’m a little amazed at how familiar and comfortable it all is. The foods, the mannerisms, the language, the culture… it’s actually the pace of the “big city” that’s taking more to get used to than anything else!!

I’ll try and get some pics and/or videos up soon. My boss and I drove around some of the displaced person sites that have been mostly abandoned by now. People who got shuffled into the temporary government sites have since moved in with family or friends, or began reconstructing their own homes. Everyone will be receiving some level of aid from the government, but things do not move as quickly as we’d all expect. Timelines have passed, and the situation has changed. Mostly, my work will consist of helping document the movement of people from these temporary sites to new, permanent homes. CRS (the agency I’m partnered with) is providing funding for people to get construction materials for the foundations of a new home and a temporary latrine. There are many more complex elements involved… but since I’m just trying to wrap my head around it, I won’t blog about too many of those details.

I officially moved into my place this past Sunday. I am going to try and get Wifi set up at home, but unfortunately things move at the pace of Africa… meaning that if it works out, I won’t even get it set up for at least 2 months. So I’ll have to keep you all posted on that. I do have cybercafés all over, so it’s not like I’ll be out of touch… just not from home for a while (if at all). My only insect interactions so far have been with a friendly gecko who was hiding in my food pantry, a huge and nasty cockroach who woke me up when walking in my bedroom on some plastic, and some harmless ants in the kitchen. As long as I don't see any of the scorpion-carrying, hairy camel spiders, though... I am OK!!

My cell number here is: (011 226) 76 90 66 10
You know the drill if you called me while I was here last time. For the rest of you, I’d recommend getting a calling card if you plan to buzz me… or we can just try Skype when I can get to a cybercafé.

More soon…...



At January 21, 2010 10:15 PM, Blogger msmish1 said...

Great blogs so far!! You sound really happy!! Now, CALL YOUR SISTER!!!!!!!!!! love you and miss you!!!:) *HUGS*

At January 25, 2010 5:07 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Sounds like you've got a great place, hope I can make it out to visit!

You're completely justified in not wanting to see camel spiders - I'm scared silly of them too!


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