Saturday, November 10, 2007

Football! OpaleSup, and Le gigot

This update contains a quick recap of Saturday and Sunday, a summary of the rest of the week and then highlights from each day.

Saturday I slept in. I was luckily able to fall back asleep after being woken up at 8:30am by the house man who wanted to fix the toilet which was continually running. I got up and did my work out video. After lunch I went to the office and fiddled around with my computer. Pascal came to visit in the afternoon which I would have normally been happy about except I was anxiously praying for my brother who was running at his state Cross Country meet and just wanted to left alone. I think he got the picture and left. Later that night I did see him at dinner and was much better spirits after learning that Jordan took 18th place making him all state! I was so proud of him! Running in the state meet was something I always dreamed of and was never able to do. It is so wonderful and uplifting to see Jordan succeed in this way :) After dinner I went over to Leanna’s and she and Tyler and I carved a pumpkin. We asked to Pete to bring one back with him from Bobo. He did and we had a great time carving it. We even saved the guts to make a pie when Thanksgiving comes around. Which, might I add, I realized is coming very quickly!

Sunday I went to church with Lenna and Lorinda. They go to the Padua Alliance Church. It was women’s day so the ladies of the congregation run the service and afterwards they pass out snacks, ect. It was okay. I think I like the church from last weekend better. They really cool thing was there was a very new baby, 2 months old there. Lorinda knew the Mom so she was holding her and they passed her down to Leanna and then to me. You would have thought I would have been all like, “Oh, look a cute baby.” But I was freaked out afraid to hold her. When I was little I loved holding babies, but it has been so long I was afraid she was fall apart in arms. Anyway, it was awkward at first but I quickly got the hang of it… and she remained intact :) After church we went to the Marina Market. I spent $40 and didn’t feel like I bought anything that is actually useful. Oh well. I got breakfast for the month, more milk, bread, and juice. I have to add that they didn’t have the digestive crackers that I LOVE, so I tried a different brand and have been supremely disappointed. I had lunch at 2iE and spent the afternoon cleaning the kitchen, hanging up pictures, and otherwise organizing the house. There was a women scheduled to arrive who would be staying in the house here for a month and I wanted to make sure I had my space claimed and things the way I wanted them. I then took a nap and got to go play Ultimate Frisbee at ISO. It was great fun. Drew, Tyler, and Ben were all there along with a bunch of younger kids and some of their parents. After ultimate I raced home on my bike, showered and hopped in Leanna’s car and headed to the rec center for Sunday night football. The first game was pretty lame, but the second game was the Colts verus the Patriots which was an awesome game. We normally only stay for the first game, but this week we stayed for both. Leanna is a fan of the Browns and they were also playing in the second time slot. Needless to say I was out again until like 12:30 at night. Not a good way to start the week. The women staying at the house arrived as I was leaving for Frisbee. I stayed and talked for a minute and invited her to football. She readily accepted, happy to have something to do and a way to meet people. The women’s name is Marcia. She works for the IWMI, an international water management group. She is helping to organize a conference at 2iE at the end of November. She is very friendly, high spirited and nice to have as a housemate. I think we have a lot to offer each other as far as similar interests yet varied life experiences.

The week in Summary:

This week I felt like I was back at Princeton. Why? Because I was crazy busy. I wasn’t getting to bed until late and having to get up and go to classes. In summary, this week I attended a training course for new software called OpaleSup that 2iE is using to create distance learning courses. It allows you to make different modules, with chapters that have movable content. It then at the click of a button creates a web based presentation and a very professional looking document. It was quite fortuitous that I was able to participate. Konate asked me if I wanted to attend and I said yes not knowing it was a week long training thing. Normally, I would have complained because they went so slow, but I was happy to be with other people instead of alone in my office. Also, the course was taught in French which resulted in my having to focus very hard to follow what was going on. The teachers were both from France. The girl was actually originally from brazil and I could understand her French very easily. They guy on the other hand was a native Parisian and was a more difficult to get. Luckily the girl taught most of the classes. Basically, I didn’t get any of my work done. But, I did learn a lot of French and made some new friends and learned how to use a sweet new computer program probably better than anyone at 2iE.


Monday: Finally signed my contract.
Had to finish my French HW that morning which was like 30 sentences!
First OpaleSup training in the afternoon.
Had a chill night and watched Grey’s Anatomy. I have decided that is going to be my Monday night thing that I look forward to.

Tuesday: All morning was OpaleSup.
Got to talk to my family briefly before lunch.
Just enough time to say Congratulations and hear about the state meet!
More training in the afternoon.
Rode my bike over the Nehlsen’s to drop off a book for Amy and picked up my malaria meds from Karen.
Got back just in time to meet Drew for dinner.
I was so pumped because I felt like my French was getting so much better, then at diner the guy at the window acted like he didn’t understand me and that was super frustrating!
The good news is they lowered the price of the rice meals to 400CFA, so now it is less than a dollar to eat there. Really, what motivation is there for me to cook for myself when I can get food already made up for less than a dollar! It would cost me more in time and supplies to cook for myself, not to mention when I eat at home I don’t get to interact with anyone.
After dinner Drew and I headed over the rec center to watch Sahara. It is a movie with Matthew McConaughey that is set in Mali, a country that borders Burkina. Living here and watching the movie and seeing how things are portrayed totally inaccurately was pretty amusing.
The movie was great, but even more entertaining was the fact that Drew’s moto broke down as we were trying to leave. So we had to go on a night Ouaga adventure to find a mechanic who could fix it. Luckily in Ouaga there are mechanics on virtually every corner and they stay open pretty late. Sitting there waiting for them to fix the bike I had so much fun people watching and just taking everything in.
Really, my being here still seems SO surreal.
In Burkina you can buy cigarettes individually. Interesting.
I finally made it back to 2iE around 11 and hit the hay!
I wonder what the guards must think of me. It must seem like I am quite the party animal always out so late…

OpaleSup in the AM and free time in the PM
I actually helped Konate with the some of the program and was helping him in French. Boo-yah!
Unknown to me they provide lunch for the participants during the course days. I didn’t know this so I didn’t go with them on Tuesday. I did go today though and it was excellent. We ate at the little house next to the student café. I had wondered what that little place was used for. Now I know. It was a much nicer meal than the student ones, naturally it is more expensive, but the school paid for everything.
I was late to my French lesson, because of lunch. I was going to leave early but they insisted that I stay and my teacher could wait. At first I felt bad, but now I realize that is how things work here. That is simply Africa.
After work I went back to my room to finish my NSF fellowship application.
When I finished and left my room I was surprised to find a large TV, 3 small TVs, 3 mini-fridges, a new big fridge and new range in my house.
Marcia was funny and asked if I won a game show or something :)
I guess each bedroom is getting a TV and mini fridge. I think they want to make the house like a hotel. Anyway, I’m not complaining. I would like to figure out how to hook my computer up, or get a DVD player…
I quickly worked out for 30 minutes and got ready to go out, again.
Prof. Weithe and another faculty guy, Angel, had arranged for a group to go to dinner at this awesome restaurant called Le Gigot a la Frielle. Their specialty is gigot, or lamb thigh which is slow cooked over a wood fire hanging from a string. When you order they cut one down and slice it up for you. Also, the waiters are all on roller skates, AND there is a pavilion and every night local artists come and perform. There were 2 singers, 2 bands, 1 acrobatics group, 1 marionette performance and 1 costumed roller skater. Very cool! I also tried one of the local beers, Flag, which was actually quite refreshing. We left the restaurant at like 10:00 and I was ready to go to bed, but unbeknownst to me we weren’t heading back, but instead to another locale to order some drinks. Oye. By this time my interest in listening to rapid, rapidly spoken French had waned. I still enjoyed myself and Marcia, not my housemate, but the female teacher from France saved me and talked with me in English for a bit. End of story. I get back around 12 again! Have to be at the training again my 7:30 AM.

Thursday: Man was I tired trying to get up this morning!
I did however get up in time to get my dirty clothes to Namuro to wash. I was fresh out.
The training was a bit boring and I finished the exercise early so I was excused and went to my office.
I finished and submitted my NSF fellowship application!
Yahoo! Now I just have to finish the other school apps and I will be set. This is more exhausting that applying for undergraduate studies.
I went back to training around 11:00 and went with them to lunch which was not as good the first day. It was some mystery fish. Not salmon, I promise.
The afternoon training finished up without event. I started making a module all about me. It was kind of fun to divide up my life into different categories and subcategories, ect.
At 5:00 I went running with Drew at the parc. It was by far the longest run as of yet and very much appreciated. The run was followed by a fast shower and dinner in the café. I got to talk to Pascal who I hadn’t seen all week. He is making a program to help a local area school to manage all their student internet activity, which is pretty impressive. After dinner Leanna picked me up and we went to the ISO music recital. This was in place of the Wired Youth Group this week.
After the recital, the youth group went out to sweeties for ice cream. Fun times.
What a logistical nightmare though… all these kids having to get home, having to find rides, to not quite like the US in that sense.
Leanna dropped me off last and we ended up talking in the car for like over an hour. She had had a tough week at work and it was nice to be able to be there for her when she needed some one to talk to. I find it incredibly impressive, but not unbelievable how God has placed me here and put in contact with these people. This whole time has been such an exercise in trusting God. And the amazing thing is he comes though. I guess it shouldn’t be that amazing, I mean he is God. But still. There is a whole new level of dependence I feel here that I never felt in the US.

Friday: Today has seemed like a bit of a let down. I slept in until 8:30 because I was SO tired. It was a challenge though because all morning all I kept hearing was workers outside my house machete chopping braches off the trees…
Anyway, uneventful day. I rewatched part of Grey’s during lunch and finally went through the Koubri pictures so I can post them.
I had a meeting with the lady in charge of the house to ask about little things like a shower curtain, dish drying rack, ect. She was really nice and it seems like everything is being taken care and should be here by the end of the month. It just takes them a while to organize and register everything on the school’s system.
I also got paid today!
Hallelujah. Except now I have to go to the bank to deposit the check. Good night. I am going to go tomorrow morning right when they open so I can be frustrated and embarrassed without a bunch of people around. I will let you know how that all turns out.
For dinner they had macaroni which was awesome. That still costs 500CFA, but that is a small price to pay for such goodness.
Drew stopped by to get Season 4 episodes of Grey’s from me as well as the pictures from Koubri. He also dropped Grey’s Season 1 and 2 which I look forward to watching :)
And I have spent the rest of the night writing this epically long update. Such is life. You learn to deal.

Sending you smiles across miles and miles…

Much love from the West of Africa.