Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 21

I arrived in my new Burkina Faso village during the dry season. I learned how to sweat and relax living outside under a thatched roof compared to the metal one of my house-like oven.

The rainy season has arrived and I am slowly learning how to live inside. The flies are horribly annoying outside. It has turned cooler and I don't mind sitting at my desk writing as long as the flies are kept on the outside all whacked dead on the inside. Life these days remind me of the many hours at my desk in Guinea.

I am glad to be back in the writing habit.
I am glad to have a desk at which I can write without drenching each letter with a drop of sweat.

August 19

I can sit in my house sweating
and not feel hot,
just comfortable.

August 18

I live in a quiet world of solitude.

It isn't the silence of noise that pierces
for there is a lot to hear

the ringing of the 5:45 am church bell
the cackling of a hen chased from pooping on the front porch
the bubbling of water from cooking rice or the popping of cooking corn
the scurrying of lizards across my metal roof
the tearing of weedy roots like the sounds of ripping teeth from their gums

No, it is the lack of English that envelops me into a bubble of quiet aloneness.

I read a book a day filling my mental silence with stories and conversations for my eyes to devour.

My ears feel neglected.
Sound can be a touch of human contact.

When the sun sets, I imprison myself under a net with mosquitoes guarding my access to freedom.

Anyways there are no coffee shops, no theaters, or music halls to attend. Where else can I be but at home?

With the star-filled sky as the stage, I slip in a CD and listen to the dramatic brass, the sad guitar strings, the voices of theatrical emotion expressing love, rebirth, anguish, strength, justice, and injustice as tonight's hearing of Les Mis fills my need for contact.

And I cry when Eponine dies, a star shooting across the black sky.
And I cry when all of the songs on the ruined disc 2 skip, a 3 hour showing shortened to 1.5 hours.

The stars keep falling to the sounds of crickets, to the sounds of solitude.

And I am content.

I can hear without distraction.
I can feel and listen in ways that are lost in a developed world surrounded by English.

Yes I am at peace, a monk studying the art of being.

When I am bored

I floss my teeth
I scrub my feet
I sweep the floor
I separate beans from rocks
I cook a time-consuming dish
I read an entire book

All the little things combined with bigger tasks like weeding, visiting, and tutoring make up a full enjoyable day.

An Ode to My Pagnes

August 15

Even though you are
strangely decorated with
mixed matched colors
and weird designs like
cell phones,
severed fingers,
egg beaters

how fast you dry
how little you wrinkle
how amazingly well you hide
dirt and sweat

You are practical
and that is
what makes you great.

Note: Pagnes are 1.5 meters of African cloth.

My Pillow

When I first got to country I was so thankful that I brought my pillow from the states. It made it easier to fall asleep in the hot room of my host family.

When we left Guinea, I also left the pillow.

My new bed is a foldable cot made out of woven plastic rope. It is a hard bed. I bought the rectangle foam pillows that they have here. I was able to fall asleep, but then the hot season came and it was too hot to use the pillow. So I learned how to sleep without a pillow and now I never use one even if I'm in a hotel with fluffy ones.

Funny how quickly a body adapts.

August 11

Can you imagine?

mowing a lawn, by pulling up all the grass by hand?

Well that is what we did. It is necessary for safety. Who knows what the tall grass attracts to the house.

August 6

"I want a bon bon," the ringleader of the 3 girls with bloated tummies asked in Moore.

I replied, "Do you want beans?"

Only the youngest, a 3 year old nodded yes.

She gobbled down my black eye pea chili and when I asked again, do you want beans, the 2 others nodded yes.

I gave them spoons and was glad to see that I am not the only one who makes a mess when using a new utensil.

August 5

Am I bored if
I sit in my house
whacking flies
with my handmade straw broom?

It did cross my mind
that flies have a right to live.
I should value life, but
it was only a slight hiccup
in my killing spree.

Village Tidbits

After a week and a half, it is thrilling to come home to my once barren garden now full of weeds mixed with bean, corn, and peanut greenness.


My Moringa trees that I have started in little bags have sprouted. My enclosed latrine is a great place to start a tree nursery well protected from hungry animals.


If I learned how to fix well pumps, I could do a bike tour across Africa re paring pumps in exchange for food and a place to stay.


Weeding is fun.
It is like a treasure hunt digging until you find the gold.

Flying versus the road

August 2

Airplanes are cramped ways to travel, an uncomfortable day to get from point A to point B.

I flew to Dakar, Senegal last week.

After a year of Bush taxis rides, airplanes are a first class way to travel
air conditioning
your own seat
seat belts
hot food and drinks handed to you instead of thrown through open windows chased by foot for their money as the taxi pulls away

a smooth ride

Airplanes are definitely a welcomed bump up to first class.

African Polite

July 30

Good morning.
How are you?
How is your family?
How did you sleep?
How is work?
God bless your day.

If I start a greeting in French o fin Moore I can be African polite, each question asked with a squeeze of the hand, at least 3 hand squeezes per greeting.

If I start a greeting in English, I am impolite with my minuscule greeting starting with good morning and ending with How are you running full speed into business.