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strawberry/fields forever

January 16, 2012

blogo-soundtrack: thishas been stuck in my head for about 4 days now

And I’m back!

After spending the holidays in Americuh, I am once again back on Burkinabè soil. I didn’t really flinch twice as I boarded the plane to come back to Mossi-land, but the minute I landed and stepped out into the heat that is December in West Africa, my exact thought was, “Oh… riiiight.” I’ve got to say, it kind of felt like I ran straight into a wall. I spent two weeks running around San Francisco and its surroundings, and I’m sure that to any bystander I looked something like a chicken with its head chopped off, running from here to there to everywhere trying to see everyone; I maybe got a total of 5 hours of sleep per night on average. Then I got back to West Africa, and remembered that the entire world does not operate at this type of pace. I also slept for about 14 hours straight.

It’s been almost two weeks, and I am finally getting back into the swing of things: my African groove, if I ever had one, is coming back. For one thing, being in the company of people who understand the idiosyncratic pleasures and pains of the sort of quirky life we lead as volunteers without having to try to explain (poorly) every little aspect of every little thing was a huge buffer to my return. (While all at once thrilled to relate stories and anecdotes of life here to those back home, I somehow always felt like I didn’t have the right words to accurately describe every little bit of every little thing – which was hard.) 

But the best part about coming back was the return to my village. After decompressing as much as Waga will allow, I made my way back to P— and couldn’t have been more overwhelmed with welcome. I swear to you that some of the women in my organization were more excited to see me than some friends back home. WTF?! How can it be that these women, whom I’ve known less than a year, with whom I can sometimes barely communicate, and for whom I have really done (tangibly) very little for, be so ecstatic to see me?  Sometimes the world just doesn’t seem to make much sense (and I mean that in the best possible way).

A quick once-over of my village for you: the garden is still alive, and sprouting! The women of AFEPO are now strutting around with some genuine American apparel (probably manufactured in China) and loving every minute that they get to show off their new shirts. My neighborhood kids have participated (perhaps for the first time?) in the democratic decision making process that was a caveat to getting the soccer balls so kindly donated by my old high school. I was even approached by the mother of one of the girls in my club in the marché to thank me for the work I am doing (“work” I am doing) with them every week. And, at last check, the village school is pulling together a budget and determining a possible village contribution for a world map project that we’re eager to complete in the coming year. All promising things, and all in all I am happy to be back and anxious to complete my second and last year here.

The trip home wound my batteries in a sense. It was so comforting to be in the company of my family and realize that without exception, things just fall back into place with them. The hiatus from being a grungy PCV also put a lot of things in perspective. I found myself feeling more disjointed than I would have anticipated at moments, and more connected at others. I caught myself playing devil’s advocate for issues that previously seemed so clearly this way or that. Being home just drove home the reality that everything, everything, is so nuanced, more so than we are probably perceiving, and that a lot of the worries and concerns that eat away at us at home are pretty much just silly and trivial. It was nice being reminded of that.

Now, it’s strawberry season in Burkina, which is a short but sweet time of year. All of the green is gone and you can see through the used-to-be fields, all the way to large looming baobab trees that will probably never die (what is a baobab’s lifespan, anyway?), it’s windy and the air is unbelievably dry, the kids are bundled up for the cold and even I’m chilly in the mornings, and mango season (and oppressive heat) are right around the corner!! 

Much love

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    January 16, 2012 5:03 pm

    It was so good to see you and the work your weaving ladies are doing. I hope we sold enough to make them happy. I am still thinking about dyeing my lovely cream scarf next time I have an indigo vat going. (I should have bought more of those un-dyed scarves!) We loved having you with us for a short time and catching up on the progress you are making. If you reread some of your first blogs, you will see how far you have come. Now you are a “welcomed home” member of your village. That’s great.
    Enjoy and keep top the good work. Barbara

  2. Theo Armour permalink
    January 18, 2012 3:30 am

    One thing is certain in all this: you are developing your writing skills…

  3. Bill permalink
    January 24, 2012 4:40 am

    It was great seeing you in the US. I share your feeling that living elsewhere with different people gives one a perspective on what is important and what is not. I am so glad you are seeing this. It is one of the great advantages one gets from living abroad.

  4. Arielle permalink
    January 27, 2012 2:45 am

    Wonderful to hear about your return to your village. I hope it was truly as validating as you make it sound. It was so glorious to see you. So much love to you!

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