Some Differences between America and Africa
Among the many, many differences between America and Africa, there are few similarities. The food is different, there is essentially no A/C, there are some paved main roads but most roads are dirt, and there are no traffic laws. The people are more outgoing and friendlier, but nothing is covered, flies are ubiquitous and trash covers the ground everywhere.
The days are passing here quickly. I was trying to think of things to write. I keep assuming that you knew the life that I was going through, but you have never been over here. So therefore, there is a lot to elaborate on, lol.
I now realize how I take so much for granted back in America. Starting with Walmart and Target. Everything is right there in front of you. It doesn’t smell, and there isn’t trash scattered all over the floor. I have been to the market here three times now. It is quite the adventure every time. Let me describe it to you.
There is a large market pavilion that is covered, but wide open. Much like a circus tent without sides. Here in the middle, you can find fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce is smaller here, but most likely not full of nasty chemicals. You can also find peanut butter, skeletons of fish, and some spices, etc. On the other side located through aisles, you can find lots of shoes, pre-made shirts, pants, locks, children’s toys, hair products (which are of limited selection) cheap nail polish, and much more.
However, throughout the market it is common to see babies sleeping in boxes, children selling juices or water, people sleeping on benches, and trash literally all over the floor. It is incredibly dirty, almost beyond description. And people don’t wear deodorant so the smell of human life permeates everything I do, everywhere I go. I don’t know if it’s because they cannot afford it, or if it is due for religious reasons. It’s the cultural norm here, though, and no one seems to even be aware of it, much less mind. No one but me, I guess.
On the far other side of the market, there is a butcher, and when walking by it smells awful. The meat looks like it has been sitting out for awhile, and at least some of what I’ve eaten tastes like it. I cannot believe that I eat it. On the other hand, they prepare it for me so I do not want to be rude. It’s all very strange and relatively gross. On the other hand, I guess everything is relative, at that.
Outside of the pavilion, there are smaller venders selling fruits of all sorts. You can also find phones, phone minutes, adaptors, fans, solar panels, and other electronic paraphernalia. There are numerous tailors where you can get clothes made for about 2.000mil, which is equivalent to about $4.00 American. They do such a great job, too. I think that it’s so cheap, which it is compared to American currency. However the average income here is 1.000mil per day. So that is actually a bit of money to the Burkinabe people.
You can park your bike anywhere and leave your helmet. They Burkinabe people don’t know what a helmet is. Anita, my 11 year old sister here put it on backwards when she was playing with some of my things.
We PC volunteers can get thrown out immediately – no questions asked – if we are seen riding our bikes without our helmets. Peace Corps is very strict about it. And the best part (\sarc) is that the villagers and most of the community know the rules for us Peace Corps Volunteer, so if we are seen breaking the rules, then the people report us. They cannot think for themselves here, so they do what they are told. Come to think of it, that part is not much different from the states. Not much different at all.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a 3rd world country, but then at other times I’m engulfed in it and just want things to work faster or be different. I think I am doing a good job in adapting. My biggest fear and downfall right now is grasping the French Language.
I was bad at learning Spanish in high school, and not much has changed in trying to learn French. But we learned past tense yesterday and things are becoming easier. Slow and steady I guess. I have to keep remembering that. Also they are drilling the concepts into our heads. I find it difficult to grasp them all before they are moving forward with a new lesson. We only get Sunday for a break, and even on that day you are with your family trying to adapt and being watched. So in reality, you don’t get a day off. I can slowly feel my body draining from the constant surveillance.
I haven’t had A/C in two weeks; that doesn’t bother me too much. The weather is not as hot on some days as Florida, and the humidity here is nicer, too. Today is hot, though; the hottest time during the day is between 2-4pm. And when it rains, the air becomes cool and chilly. Very unlike Florida. We can see the storm come in and it’s so neat to watch. Just like watching the storm come over the lake back home. It makes me homesick. I miss sitting on the back porch with Ava, drinking a glass of wine, and watching the sun go down.
There are a lot of things that I miss, but nothing that I can’t live without for two years. It seems like a long time, but I can’t believe that three weeks have already passed. I guess we’ll see. I have a great support system here, but my greatest is you guys. So please continue to text me. It makes me so happy and I find a happy spot. I love you like always. Take care. 🙂