Saturday, October 27, 2007

James Bond bank account and Funny French Teacher

These last three days have been absolutely crazy! I wouldn’t normally be taking time to write about it quite yet, but I have my GRE exam tomorrow and right now procrastination in the form of writing this blog is much more appealing than studying and dealing with my slight apprehensions about tomorrow. At least I can admit when I am avoiding something…

Anyway, Wednesday started with my going with Konate to the Bank of Africa to open a bank account. Everything was cool except I needed two passport size pictures and didn’t have them. So after filling out the paper work we went down the street to a photo place and I had my picture taken. It cost all of 2 dollars and it was really quite amusing. There are these guys sitting around outside (as there are everywhere it seems) and as soon as we pull up they all start with a flurry of activity. They have me sit in a chair in the entry way of the shop, so the lighting is good, and there is cameraman in front of me. Then instead of having a permanent backdrop, there is another guy whose job it is to hold up a blue sheet behind me. They snapped the picture and we were out of there in less than 5 minutes. The pictures wouldn’t be ready until later that day and Konate said he would come and get them later. We would return the bank on Thursday to finish opening the account.

After returning to work, I got ready to go again since Drew and I had made plans to go to the Red Cross to see about finding some Cholera epidemic information. No luck at the Red Cross. They said they didn’t have any documentation, which I find hard to believe. So, with that unfruitful attempt complete we decided to try the World Health Organization. Problem was we didn’t know where it was… We knew they had an office here, but didn’t know where. Before we headed off on the next leg of our quest we stopped at the Peace Corps office. It was cool to see where the Peace Corps is located and what sort of resources the volunteers have access to when they are there.

On the way back to 2iE we stopped at the Jirma store so I could buy some bottled water. I had just run out! I also picked up 7,500 credits for my phone since I was running low… After dropping off the water to my room and successfully locating directions to WHO from the very helpful security guard we were off again.

The WHO headquarters are just down the street from 2iE which was awesome! Except that, after we got there, talked to the guards and were ready to search the archives we learned that just two months ago the WHO moved their document center to their other office 20 minutes away. Just our luck…

So we decided to do what anyone on a mission is apt to do. We drove the 20 minutes to the other center. It was cool I had never been to that end of town before. Ouaga is a big city, so I am learning. Long story short, we get to the center and it is closed. There is some sort of convention in Ouaga 2000 and all the document center employees are there and won’t be back until Friday! So we will just have to come back later. We sped back to 2iE making a stop at some artisan shop. Drew knew the owner from his time in Peace Corps. We made it back to 2iE in just enough time for me to grab lunch and go to my French lesson.

My French teacher Moumini is pretty funny. Or least he thinks I am pretty funny and exasperating apparently. After the last two lessons as he is walking out down the hall to leave I have heard him let out this sigh of like “gosh that was painful” or “glad that is over”… You know the sigh. Anyway, I could care less and think its kind of funny. What I don’t think is funny is that I clearly have a problem being understood when I speak French. I know what I am trying to say, why can’t anybody else!? Wednesday evening was uneventful as I studied for the GRE and French. I am also making myself go to bed by 10:00 which is a great idea because them I read for half an hour and fall asleep. This allows me to wake up at 6:30 and be at work at 7:00 which is when I am supposed to be there and since I now have a contract I figured I should probably get there on time, and my GRE is the morning and I wanted to be used to being up and moving early.

Thursday I finalized the opening of my Bank of Africa account. I have a sweet ID card and will be getting an ATM card in the mail soon. I have to say I feel pretty James Bond-ish having bank accounts on two continents. Except that as Tyler pointed out to me later that night that the account is in one of the poorest countries in the world. Minor, minor detail. I still think it’s cool. This activity took all morning. When Konate and I got back I asked if I could go with him to the Water Aid meetings he had been going to all week. He agreed to take me with him. However, he couldn’t understand why I wanted to go because the meeting was in French and he didn’t think I would be able to understand anything. Well, that was precisely why I wanted to go. I wanted to listen, observe, learn, and network. Bottomline it was awesome. I made a connection with someone working on clay filters exactly like the ones Professor Soboyejo and the Princeton group are working with. This is a huge breakthrough as I actually see something good coming out of all this work I trying to do. Thursday night I went to WIRED, the youth group, to help out. It was great. I like having things to do and people to see :) I helped with the junior high lesson which entailed figuring out how to act out 1 John 2:3 which is not a very verse to act out... The group I worked with consisted of 4 junior high boys, which of course reminded me of how much I miss my brothers. But, I guess I will just have to console myself with the thought that absence makes the heart grow fonder, (if it doesn't forget about you thatis...).

This is where I will end this post and pick back up tomorrow after my exam.