Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I know you have been in suspense, but wait no longer...

Sorry, sorry, sorry for not writing sooner. I have been swamped with things to do and really wanted to finish my book, so at night I would choose to read instead of write a post. Can you blame me? I’ll update this is reverse order…

Thursday: After drawing my sweet set of keys and working feverishly on an essay that afternoon I went back to my room and worked out for like 25 minutes and then headed off to the youth group Leanna had invited me to help out at. It wasn’t far from the University, but I couldn’t get a ride which meant I had to ride my bike. After talking to Leanna, I was reassured everything would be fine. It would be like 6:45pm at which point it would be dark, but still early. Fine. I drummed up some courage strapped the leadlamp Caroline gave me as a graduation present to the front of my bike, took a deep breathe and went for it. Of course, as I was walking out Pascal showed up to see if I wanted to head to dinner. I had to decline, but proposed Friday instead. The thought of having someone to eat with was quite appealing. The ride to the Harrison’s, where the youth group was held, as only slightly eventful as only one person decided it was necessary to slow down their moto to my pace and talk to me. I try to ignore him, which was successful after a while. The problem is you don’t want to be too mean because you don’t want to provoke anything, but then again I really just didn’t want to deal with anyone. The youth group meeting was fun. There were about 32 people there. We played a relay game, they celebrated three birthdays and Tyler talked about God’s love for each of us. It was pretty impressive how they celebrate birthdays. The birthday kid sits in a chair and they hoist them up and down while singing Happy Birthday. Ingenious! I would like to bring one back to the states. One of the birthdays was Leanna’s, so afterwards Leanna, Tyler, Bianca (Leanna’s friend in the peace corps.) and I went to Gondwana’s for some ice cream. Nice. Afterwards since it was quite late, Leanna and Bianca rode with me back to campus so I wouldn’t have to ride alone. That was one stipulation agreed upon before I said I would go to the youth group meeting in the first place.

Work as usual. I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary. I don’t remember much about the work day at all actually. Later that evening I took Pascal up on his offer for dinner and we rode our bikes to a restaurant on the Babanguida. One of the bigger roads near the school. It was pretty fun although we didn’t leave until like 8:45 because there was a bible study going on earlier in the evening. Right before I left I began to regret agreeing to go and kinda just wanted to stay in for the night. But, alas, it was a fun time. I got to try Cote I’voirian food. I liked the fried plantains, but the leaf sauce was a little salty. Yes, they eat leaves. Actual leaves. Kinda crazy! I also found out growing up in the villages it is very common to eat hedgehogs and squirrel if they can find them… nothing is off limits. These types of meat are thankfully not all that common in larger cities like Ouaga. I also got to practice my French which was much appreciated.

I finally got to sleep in a bit. I slept in until 10:30…. voila! I felt very refreshed. In other news, I really really needed to finish my Oxford Application. I had been putting of writing the one-page personal statement and I resolved that today I would write it. So I went into the office and instead of writing it watched and episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Not part of the plan… After that indulgence I guilt-tripped myself into writing my essay ;) I finished the paper and sent it to my Mom to read over. I knew that they had the regional CC meet and so I was thinking about them all morning. I had lunch as usual in the cafĂ©, and then later when I was back in my office fiddling with my work I got a call from Leanna. She invited me to her apartment to cook dinner. We decided to make chicken pot pie, and invited Tyler and a bunch of other people over as well. Only Tyler and the history teacher at ISO, Tobin, were able to make it. So there were four of us, a nice number :) Leanna is a great cook and it was fun to cook with her since she knows a lot of tricks about cooking in Ouaga. Like how to make sour cream out of cream and vinegar. It was so funny because we needed carrots, but sometimes you just can’t buy things in Ouaga and that day we could not find any carrots… We made do with the two she had and then some canned ones. I had never made chicken pot pie before, so it was quite an adventure. Leanna and I both like the crust the best so instead of just putting a crust on the top, we doubled the recipe and made a crust for the top and bottom. Great thinking! I would like to add though that the temperature in her house with the oven on was, according to her thermometer, 91.2 F Hot hot hot… But like I have mentioned before it doesn’t seem to bother me. Dinner was pre-gamed with some bread and fancy dipping sauces that Leanna had never used before. You know the kind that you find at the kitchen stores that you simply put in a little dish of oil and voila you have authentic Italian bread dipping oils. Anyway, A+ in my book on that appetizer, which by the way Tyler ran out the store to get bread for since we were fresh out. After dinner we watched V for Vendetta. Why haven’t I seen that movie before? It was freaking awesome! I mean really friends, how was this skipped in the recommendations up until now… It is very twisty-turny, and kind of out there, but good. At first I thought I would have nightmares from the Guy Fox mask, but the it just becomes part of the character, part of the movie. I think it has the same kind of suspense as The Interpreter. Another movie I really like. Anyway, Leanna drove me home afterwards since she has a vehicle again. She didn’t have one on Thursday or else she would have given me a ride to and from the youth group…

Overall I give this Sunday a D-minus. I wanted to try this new church called the International Church. Tyler gave me directions, but I couldn’t for the life of me find it. It was pretty sad. I had packed my bag with my workout gear and books to read. I was going to go to church and then to rec center for a workout and to swim. Well after riding around for like 45 minutes and not finding the church, stopping to ask for directions once and being directed to a different church, not the one I was looking for, I decided to throw in the towel and go to the rec center. I sat down and read for a while and met another missionary there. Not all that interesting. I decided to go swimming and saw Alice and her two children. It was nice to see familiar faces. I should mention that Larry Wolters is sick in the clinic and they aren’t sure what he has. Not good. Add him to your prayers if you can. Needless to say they were not at the rec center for lunch this Sunday. I had resolved to workout first, then swim, then eat. I go to the gym and there is no power. Of course I don’t know this and the worker that tells me this speaks only French so I don’t really know what he told me! I finally go out by the pool and talk to Alice who went in and asked them if the power would be back on anytime soon. They said later that afternoon. It’s 11:30 now, do them near 1:00 or 5:00? I don’t know… so I said heck with the workout I’ll go swimming so I jumped in and played with Charity and Sammy, Alice’s two kids. It was fun, but after a while I kind of wanted to swim laps since I couldn’t workout, but that was not going to happen since it seemed like I was committed to playing pool games of imaginary culinary school and toss the ball. C’est la vie. I was finally starving so I ended my swim and went into the restaurant after changing of course. It was at this point I noticed my hair felt pretty nasty. Like sticky and dry at the same time. Not good. Anyway, there was nothing I could at that point so I ordered a Taco Salad and read some more of my book during lunch. The Taco Salad was ok, but will not be repeated. After lunch I glumly took my sorry self back to my room. Thus far I had missed church, not been able to work out, my hair felt super nasty, and my lunch was mediocre. Poor Sara. I went to the office to see if my family was around to talk to me. They were and we talked for a few minutes, but I was pretty out of it and my lack of an ability to communicate anything substantial was actually even more depressing. The only good news was that Illiana had done really well at the regional meet taking first place and going 1,2,3,4. Nice JOB! After the unsuccessful phone conversation, I went back to my room and did the only thing I could think of that would cheer me up, watch the other episode of Grey’s that I had. After that I felt marginally better and thought the next course of action since I missed church would be to listen to a sermon from Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB). I went to HTB when I lived in London in 2006. Awesome place. Anyway, I kind of fell asleep while listening to it and surrendered to the tiredness of sadness and went to sleep for real. So I slept and slept and then got up and went to dinner. Then I read and went to sleep after a very long prayer time in which I very candidly expressed my dislike for my current state of being. After that I seemed to feel much better. Isn’t it amazing what God will do when you let him. By the way, I would just like to note at this point I have like no clean clothes left. NONE. I am just waiting for Monday when I can get Naromo (the guy to takes care of my place) to wash them. AND after showering after the swimming I realized that there is a definite issue with my hair. I don’t know what is up with the chemicals in that pool, but I shampooed twice and used globs of leave in conditioner to no avail it seems. I won’t be swimming again anytime soon. Or at least not without a swimming cap!

First off things started off way better on Monday than Sunday. I talked to Namoro and my clothing situation is on the upswing. I also went with Konate over to the pilot plant to talk to Omar about getting things set up. The water is running now, but has to run for two days to clear out the system. I missed talking to my family since I was out of the office, but did get to talk Adam for a bit which was nice since I hadn’t talked to him in a while. Oh yes, on Friday I got to talk to Ryan for quite some time. We also discovered googletalk and have since been using it instead of Skype. It is great, and I have found the connection to be way better! Lunch was fun, Pascal was there and so I got to practice more French which was good because I had my French lesson directly following that. I need to ask my French teacher to talk in French more. Like I get it, he doesn’t have to explain everything in English to me… In the afternoon I worked on the Flood and Epidemic research I’m doing and later around 5:30ish Drew came over and we worked for like 2 and half hours on the stuff. It is pretty interesting. On Wednesday we are going to go to the Red Cross to talk to some people about what sort of medical records are available. Last night I took a practice GRE exam and studied more French. I have decided to really spend a good amount of time improving my French each night. There is no reason why it should be taking me this long to learn. I taught myself Algebra II I can teach myself French, right? Anyway, that is my new resolve I will let you know how it goes. Oh, Sunday I finished my book Cadillac Desert. Yeah! 500 pages, eat my dust… I have since started Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. About half the length and I am already on page 50. The pages are smaller and the font is bigger. Oh and its fiction instead of non-fiction, what a relief!

Ah today. Konate came in and told me he was leaving for an all day meeting. And I was like ok, whatever. What am I supposed to say? Later I had another visitor. Kokou brought one of secretaries to talk to me. She had a contract for me. Like a work contract, which I suppose is a good thing, but wouldn’t you know, it was in French. So I spent a good portion of my morning translating the contract to make sure I am not signing up for something I shouldn’t be. Not that I’m not already here or anything. Anyway, one surprise was that the contract said I had 45 paid vacation days. Are they serious? I am here for like 9 months and they are giving me 6 weeks of paid vacation. I am not complaining. Anyone want to rendezvous in Paris? Je parle Fracias… donc je en trein du apprendre Fracias. Well, I guess that’s that. I thought it would be a good idea to talk to Prof. Maiga about the contract so I went to his office and asked his secretary if I could speak with him. I asked this is French and she understood me! The problem was when she responded I don’t know what she said… I think she said she would call later today and tell me when I could see him. At least that is what I hope she said. Lunch today was so-so, but I did get to chat with Claire this morning which brightened my day. Also, I now read the news stories like everyday and it is amazing what you come across. For example, Philadelphia in general has the least attractive people of all of the top 25 US cities. I couldn’t help but email that little tid-bit of info to Caroline. I am also updating my gmail address book in preparation for sending out a mass-email update. That is a challenge. Break is over so I am back to work. This afternoon I am going to read a book about gravel bed pre-filtration. I finally located an electronic version in English. Excellent!

Last note: Today when I talked to Ryan he said he really liked my blog and couldn’t believe how much I wrote. He said he couldn’t imagine having that much to say about what he does everyday. Well, Ryan, I don’t think I have much interesting to say either, but somehow I keep filling up the pages.