Site Visit #1 – Ouagadougou
Site visit was amazing in so many ways, it was exciting, relaxing, knowledgeable, different, scary, wonderful, and educational. My site is Meguet, which is located about 125km East of Ouaga. It is mainly a farming village, but there are small gold mines nearby that employ some of the village population.
Meguet (pronounced May’- gay) is approximately 7,000 people, most of whom work in nearby fields during the rainy season. During my visit to the site, many students and teachers had left; they had either gone back to their nearby village, or the teachers went to stay with their husbands somewhere else in Burkina. So hopefully during the school year, Meguet has more activity, because right now, it is quiet. I’ll have more about Meguet in my next post.
On Sunday, July 6th, G30 (our group of new PC volunteers – so named because we’re the 30th group to go through Burkina Faso) went to Ouaga to have homologue training for two days. Homologues are locals who work for or with the Peace Corps to help orientate us new volunteers. They are usually bilingual, and are versed in the PC rules and regulations, and help to keep us from doing stupid things that go against local cultural norms or Peace Corps rules.
For us volunteers, homologue training was pointless, but it got us out of class. 🙂 The homologues needed to learn the rules that Peace Corps had required for us. Such as: no moto privileges, always wear your helmet, etc… It was annoying; most of the rules are annoying, but they ease up when we get to site.
I absolutely hate doing ice breaker exercises and activities. I find them an extreme waste of my time. However, I do like my homologue, Rasmada, so far. He’s younger, with a family in Ouaga. He teaches English and French in my school. I was able to communicate effectively with him, thankfully, because he understood English. (I still wish I picked up learning a foreign language faster.) He says that he will be my tutor for French when I get to Meguet.
I love staying in Ouaga. On July 6th, the DMO didn’t know he had a meeting with us so we got the whole day off. I spent it reading, eating, and sleeping. We found a place near the convent that makes delicious cheeseburgers for 2700F. Sounds expensive, buuuutttt you got fries on the bottom, two burger patties, and coleslaw on top. Then after all that food, they gave you two scoops of ice cream. It was so amazing. It made me miss American food, especially greasy hangover food. Lol. I’ve heard you can find tacos in Ouaga. I am determined to find out where.
So Wednesday, July 9th 2014, I woke up at 5:30am to catch the bus to Meguet. I had to beg not to take a taxi to the bus station. I didn’t want to wait for it, or pay for one. But once we finally got to the bus station, it was absolute chaos. I didn’t know where the bus was supposed to be for which city; nothing was labeled. Apparently they park in the same spot, and you just have to ask around. We were an hour early. While waiting, dozens of local vendors came up to me because they assumed I had money. They sold phones, food, plastic junk, belts, etc.
The actual bush-taxi was super sketchy, kind of scary, and I kept hoping that we wouldn’t break down whenever we went over a slight hill. I was lucky to have a window seat. People kept getting on and off, but at least we didn’t have any livestock on our taxi. That probably sounds funny to most of us Americans, but over here it is actually quite common to see livestock on public transportation. However, we did have a lady whose shirt was much too short and her breasts were hanging out. I haven’t quite mastered the dichotomy of strappy tops are bad, but boobs hanging out are fine. Oh well, all in due time, I guess. The bush-taxi was crammed, bumpy, and not at all fun. But thankfully my trip was only three hours compared to some peoples’ nine.(!)