a visual journey through some (unusual) days in the life of…
Blogo-Soundtrack: Amélie soundtrack
Rather than dive into a long story about fellow PCV Hayley’s visit or PCV Rhoda’s agreement to accompany me on the pilgrimage (take 2), I’m going to give you pictures. It’s been a long time since I’ve added pictures on my blog, and while I’d like to lie to you and say that it’s because a baobab tree seized my camera or a village elder ordered its sacrifice, the simple truth is that WordPress changed (had changed and now has changed back?) its format and for the life of me I – being the IT layman that I am – was unable to upload more than one gigantic photo at a time; even then, the internet speed here wouldn’t let it post. Fear not though, because WordPress has backtracked and I have re-figured out how to post photos; they’ll even have captions to go along with ‘em!
Here is Hayley S., while visiting my site! We cooked a romantic dinner of Pad Thai by lantern light. She’s quite the chef: who else do you know that can cook up a delicious storm with the light of a fading, defunct, “lantern”?
Ingredients’re ready! GARLIC (“smells like garlic in here!”), BROCCOLI (oh my god I found broccoli in this country!!!!) and tomatoes (unexciting: they’re everywhere). Don’t they all look so sexy by candlelight, though?
Oui, c’est moi! I’m sporting my wonderful headlamp, aptly named the Sun (the Sun Junior, as the Sun Senior died when I dropped him on the floor). Thanks Dad for insisting I bring this with me to Burkina!
Longshot of the veggies, the olive oil, and the acid wine. You’re probably feeling real jealous of my gastronomic options right about now. Well, don’t fret: I rarely eat this well in village; it actually only happens when I have another PCV around to impress.
The following day, after a comforting dinner, Hayley’s ready to weave up a storm. That’s my counterpart, Jo, in the background coaching her along. Notice the lovely floral tank she’s wearing, courtesy of that-American-girl-that-lives-in-her-village (Christmas brought some nice American tees along with it this year).
And now we are off to greet the village elders for their annual greeting celebrations! Behold, the place where dolo is born. The dolo is used as welcome “water” for the many visitors, including us, that stop by throughout the day.
Monsieur Le Chef de Village. (High on my list of priorities is to get me a pair of these sunglasses: all the cool old people have a pair and I’m determined to get my hands on some before I leave).
From left: Natalie, Jo, Clementine and her second set of twins, Mr Cheif, Agiara, and Alima. Behind folks on the left, the token Burkinabe trying to get a snapshot of the village blanche to show his friends in Waga. Fast forward to a week later in the market and a Burkinabe filming me playing with a baby: my ladies flipped their lids and got into a screaming match in order to defend me and call him out. It was very special
Here I am with The Queen, we’re just hanging out like old buddies. Actually, we haven’t seen each other in awhile, so she spent the first half of our catch-up hiding behind her dad’s legs.This photo was snapped right when she started liking me again. You can tell she still has her doubts. I, on the other hand, am happy as a clam to see my old friend again.
And here we are, a week later, at Yagma. Yes, that’s right, I voluntarily committed to doing the pilgrimage again this year; this after swearing to myself and my villagers that nothing they could say or do would convince me to wake up at 2:00am and embark on this journey again. After being convinced, I promised Jo and Alima that if they abandoned me (as I accused them of doing last year) I wouldn’t speak to them for a month. They laughed, and laughed even harder when I recounted the story of how last year I had to run, half-awake, to catch a public bus that was the beginning to a largely exhausting and unanticipated day of prayer. (For thos interested in last year’s pilgrimage, feel free to read my blog post recounting that experience.) This photo is Yagma at 3:00am, upon arrival.
This is what I wake to, after a restless nap. 5:45am.
8:00am. Rhoda, my brave guest, sleeps under that blue pagne. The women behind her shelter themselves from the cold, and surely ask themselves what the hell it is that we are doing here.
Of course, the cold wears off. How could it not: this is Burkina. Pagnes are strung together onto the leafless trees to shield from the sun. This is about mid-5-hour-long prayer.
Happy campers, despite the tiring circumstances.
Prayer and song end, so what could we possibly do but head directly to the dolo den (or, the cabaret as it’s dubbed in Burkina). Too bad for Rhoda, she doesn’t like dolo. My ladies and I, however, savor it.
Jo and Alima buying kitty souvenirs for their kids back in the village. They literally thought I was nuts when I told them to put the masks on themselves. Child’s play, they claimed. But they laughed pretty hard when they saw the picture. This one’s getting printed out for them, for sure.
On the bus back: cramped, hot, and prone to breakdowns every 2 minutes (this is not an exaggeration). See next image.
Moussa and Edith waiting patiently for our replacement bus. Our original finally decided to go bust completely. Here we are waiting in a parking lot for the next vehicle to pick us up and schlep us back to village. Rhoda’s thought when the bus broke down the first time: ‘Oh good, now we can just go back home to bed.’ Rhoda’s thought after the 3rd breakdown: ‘Stupid me. How could I think that a stubborn and broken bus would be any match against the will of the Burkinabe to get from point A to point B’ (especially if point B is the social highlight of the month, and the biggest prayer of the year).
Our replacement. Need I say more?
Just one thumbs up, not two? Let’s get this show on the road. More accurately: let’s get this dump truck on the road.
I had the best seat in the house because I was smushed up right between Jo’s legs. Luckily I have an amazing, ill-fitting and filthy headscarf to protect my ears.
Finally we make it home. Here I am with my ladies; they look clean and happy whereas I look dirty and disheveled (of course). But I’m happy, too.