Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sloppy Joes, Strawberries, Softball and a whole lot of loving life...

Picking up where I left off dinner at Mary Ellen’s was great. She made baked ziti and afterwards we all sampled some of her very special teas. She had about 15 types of fresh teas that you put into your own tea bags. Very cool. Afterwards we watched Hairspray with her projector. I am getting pretty spoiled with all this big screen movie action :)

Sunday I slept in. When I did finally get up I listened to an HTB sermon about God and Science. It was pretty awesome. In the afternoon I ventured to take a walk to the market to buy some fruit to make a fruit salad to bring to the super bowl party. Most of the vendors were closed, I kind of forgot it was Sunday. But the walk was nice and much appreciated even though I was pretty hot by the time I got back. I tried to get online and talk to my family but the internet was down. What a disappointment. I later learned they were doing work on the network. ugh. However, making the fruit salad was fun! I used pineapple, papaya, mangos, and apples. Jealous? After constructing my masterpiece of fruit perfection I hit the hay for two hours to prepare myself for the hours I would miss going to watch the super bowl. The game started at 11:30pm our time. But it was great! I didn’t even mind staying up to watch it, it was kind of fun, in fact, sacrificing to watch the great American tradition of football. As far as the game goes, I would have been happy either way. Deep down I think I wanted the Pats to win, get Brady that 4th super bowl win and a perfect season. But having Manning win and now each brother has won a super bowl ring is pretty darn amazing. I wasn’t at all surprised by the Pats coach wanting them to play out the last second. It’s a formality. They should have done it anyway without him saying so. In the end, I got to bed at 3am.

Monday, got up very early to go to the Kamboise campus with Susan to watch some of the presentations by her students. 2iE has another campus about 30 minutes from where I am at now. I had never been there before, but had wanted to go for a long time. While the timing being the day after the Superbowl was somewhat inconvenient, I take what I can get. The presentations that the students were giving were their final projects on the topic of their ideal city. They were given in English and it was a bit disappointing that the students were not very creative in how they presented the information. They very much all went by the outline Susan provided them. However, it was interesting to see the order which they listed the priorities, it gives some insight into what they think are the most important problems. I watched presentations from 7:45am until noon at which point I headed back to Ouaga and Susan stayed to watch the last few presentations. I left early because the next bus back wasn’t until 5:00pm.

When I got back I started the flow rate measurement for that day and then slept for three hours in the middle of the afternoon! I went to bed early as well. However, before I went to sleep I tried to make pita bread again, not as bad as last time, but still not successful. This time I think I heated the water up too much and killed the yeast. Third times a charm right. I’ll let you know what happens when I try next week. I could buy the pita bread, but now I feel like it’s personal…

Tuesday, I had planned to clean my filters. However, Maggie had also sent me a text inviting me to have pancakes with her at 8:30. So I figured out how to measure the velocity and clean the filters while still working around this morning commitment. I show up at Maggie’s in the morning and it turns out she meant 8:30pm! It was fat Tuesday and there are two English girls living next door at SIM and I guess it is tradition in England to have pancakes for dinner on fat Tuesday. Not all was lost. I had a bunch of errands I wanted to run so I did those in the morning. I went to the bank… waited 45 minutes to get my money! It was ridiculous. But I also went to the shopette for some essentials and the market where I bought a strainer, fabric, and string for the filters. After I clean the filters I want to pre-filter the water going into one of them to see if it helps slow down the reduction of flow. I came back took some microbiology samples and ran the tests. I finished in time to go meet Leanna for lunch. We ate at the ISO rec center. It was first time I had eaten there. The food was pretty good and cheaper than the American rec center. Later that day I had my French lesson, I’m not liking my teacher as of late… and he wants to change the times and I don’t want to do that so we’ll see what happens. The pancake dinner at Maggie’s was really fun. It was quite the party and they were really more like crepes, but with strawberries for toppings call them what you want I was happy :) We also played catch phrase afterwards. It felt like a weekend. Going to work the next day was not high on my priority list to say the least.

Wednesday I finally got around to cleaning the filters as I had planned. I also ran some tests to determine the amount of suspended materials in the raw water. I had been planning to do this for some time and not that it takes a long time to do, I just never got around to it… In the afternoon I had bible study again with the junior high girls. It went well. But, I just wish I had a book to use… Maggie made cookies which was very nice of her to do. In the afternoon when I got back from the study I read the micro tests from the day before and to my delight Susan invited me over for dinner. We finished up the Sloppy Joes, this time using buns that Susan made herself. They were very good. It was just a nice chill dinner. After I got home I finally brought myself to write my speech for the toastmasters meeting on Saturday. I was to give my third speech, the point of the third speech is to, well, make a point. The point I wanted to make was that women should be encouraged to pursue higher education and careers in science and engineering. This is a topic I am passionate about and one that I thought would be somewhat controversial, yet still appreciated. The speech writing went well, and I was looking forward to giving it on Saturday.

Thursday I had a tennis lesson at 9:30am. I figured what is the point of having a lesson during the break time when it is super hot out when I can go in the morning and then just work during some of the break time later. Anyway, we’ll see if anyone questions me about it… The lesson was good, but it was tough at first since with going to Bobo and all it had been over a week since I last played. But I got back into the swing of things… pun intended. Thursday was also a good day in that I found out the slow sand filters are working. I checked the flow rate and discovered it was too low. This will need to be fixed somehow. I get frustrated with Omar, the technician, sometimes because he just changes things without telling me! grrr…Thursday night was WIRED as usual. Leanna wasn’t there. She was with all the other CMA missionaries at a prayer conference in Bobo for the weekend. Anyway, the power went out and stayed out until 15 minutes after the youth group ended. Lucky for us the battery on Tyler’s computer lasted long enough to show all the pictures and movie clips from the previous weeks scavenger hunt. It was still a bit of a hassle though and a disappointment we couldn’t show the stuff on the projector as originally planned.

Thursday night I spent the night at Burgs. Nancy and Larry Burg went to prayer conference in Bobo for the weekend (same one Leanna went to) and asked me to be like the big sister for the weekend. I happily agreed, with the disclaimer that I could stay Thursday and Saturday night, but that Friday I needed to stay at my place.

After WIRED the girls and I watched some of the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals soccer game on TV before heading to bed. I have to admit I didn’t sleep well that night. The Burgs don’t have a mosquito net over their bed, and I was not very comfortable without one. I just felt very unprotected, and the fact that I heard mosquitoes buzzing in my ear did not help the situation.

On Friday, I got up and made sure the girls got off to school. I had no French lesson that day since my teacher can’t come at the right time… At lunch time I worked out then went to the Burgs to eat lunch with them. When I came back to my house I made a carrot and raisin salad… It was so good! It was just like the kind they make at Colonial Club. I had meaning to make one for ages, and finally did. AND it was a success. Wahoo! Also, Friday afternoon, I felt super inspired to work. This was actually kind of annoying. Why can’t I feel that way on a Wednesday! However, before I had to go I did have a nice conversation with Konate about some ideas I had. I also was able to start calibrating the slow sand filters. Omar figured out that there were leaves blocking some of the intake pipe which is why the flow was so slow before. Oye.

At 6:00, even though for once in my life I felt like working, I rushed home to get ready and head to Joanna’s house for Bunco night. This was the second Bunco night Pot Luck I have been to. I brought the carrot salad :) I didn’t win anything this time, but it was still really fun. I ate too much as usual, but oh well. Like I said I didn’t go back to the burgs that night…one because of the Bunco night and two because I toastmasters in the morning and I was giving a speech. Before I went to bed I worked some more on memorizing my speech.

Saturday morning I gave my speech at toastmasters. I had planned to practice more before I went, but my alarm didn’t go off. I still had some time to rehearse but not as much as I was hoping for… however, I am happy to say the speech went great. And, I didn’t use notes. What an accomplishment! At the end Susan said, “I think you missed your calling, you would be a great public speaker.” Well I’m here thinking, gosh, I’m only 22 years old, I hope I haven’t missed it yet! I think there is still time ;)

Toastmasters ends around lunch time and by this point in the week I was running way low on food at my house… However, to my delight I found out the couscous I bought was precooked so it only took 5 minutes to make. Yeah! So I made couscous with peas and corn for lunch. It was actually not that great. Couscous needs some kind of sauce and that was something I did not have. Anyway, at 2:00 Susan and I headed over to ISO for a softball practice. She and I are playing on the embassy team in this weekend’s softball tournament. Let me just say it’s not going to be pretty. It’s a good thing we are in the social league division ;) Afterwards, on the way home, Susan showed me a little booth owned by a Senegalese woman with some really neat fabrics and lots of other decorations that I actually really liked. I think I will go back there when I am looking for gifts to bring back for people. Anyway, made it home showered and packed my bags. I rode my bike to the Burgs and bought some strawberries on the way over. The price for strawberries is going down dramatically. I got 2 kilos for like 2500CFA. The first time I paid 3000CFA for 1 kilo. Saturday night Lindsey and Diana, the two Burg girls, were having some friends over for a sleepover. They made pizzas for dinner which were so good. They actually make and sell the pizzas frozen, they are really good. I wish I could make pizzas like that! Anyway, I made the girls some strawberry smoothies that night and hung out with them a little bit, but then went off and did my own thing. I had started reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini on Wednesday night… I paused the book I had started on Saturday, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to read this other one it because it is the book club book for the month of February and I wanted to read it quick to get it back to Susan to read. It was her book to begin with. I am also borrowing Omnivore’s Dilemma from Mary Ellen. Caroline Chopko recommended it to me so when I saw it on Mary Ellen’s shelf I couldn’t resist. Anyway, that night I read like 150 pages of the “A Thousand Splendid Suns” book. The author also wrote “The Kite Runner” which I read last May. This second book is just as good as the first. The stories are not linked at all, and each is incredible in itself. I seriously did not want to put it down! Finally at 1:30am I shut off the light, promising myself I would read more on Sunday.

Sunday I spent the morning at the Burgs. It was very relaxed. They had no internet all weekend which was a bit of a bummer, but oh well. The girls and I listened to an HTB sermon since we had no way of getting to church and afterwards I headed out. There was softball practice again at ISO at 3:00 and I had tennis at 4:00. My tennis lesson was awesome! Emile wasn’t there so I had to have a different teacher. I was skeptical at first… BUT it was great. I am actually getting to the point where I can hit the ball from the baseline pretty consistently keeping it in bounds and not drive it into the net. After tennis I was planning to watch the Africa Cup of Nations soccer final at home with my two housemates. Things are better between us and I think we can be friends which is good. Anyway, I get back to find a note asking if I want to come watch the game with them at a bar by the airport. I would have really rather stayed home, but I thought that in the interest of the household I should go. I was planning on taking a taxi, but then I saw a friend I had met at the university who offered me a ride. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but then figured that this wasn’t anymore sketchy than taking a taxi… so I said a little prayer and agreed. Wouldn’t you know I got there no problem… I also found Nathalie and Elodi at the bar, phew! The place was pretty impressive really. Very large and pretty nice. It is all open air as are most places… The reception of the game on the TV was pretty bad, but I guess it was the atmosphere of the place that was the draw. The winner of the game was Egypt. I heard they won last year as well… They were up against Cameroon in the final, and most of the people at the place wanted Cameroon to win. I don’t really blame them, I don’t really think of Egypt as being in Africa. I know it IS in Africa, but there is a big difference between Egypt and where I’m at. After the game we sat around for a while. Elodi and I got up and danced on a sweet mirrored dance floor when Shakira came on over the speakers. Most of the time they play African music. I swear it all sounds the same. It has the same annoying beat repeated over and over! Whatever. Elodi drove me back home on the back of her moto which was actually quite frightening. She drove really fast. I was just glad there weren’t a ton of people out… I won’t be using that mode of transportation again! While I had a nice time, when I got back I developed a pretty bad headache. I read for a while, but then had to turn in for the night, but not before I took two Alieve hoping to wake up pain free.

Monday started out well. I was feeling better but not great. No more headache, but a slight upset stomach. I went in to the office at 7:00 to prepare for a meeting I had with Professor Maiga at 8:00. I was all ready to go and wouldn’t you know the printer wouldn’t work so I had to email the information and have Professor Maiga print it… not what I was hoping for. Regardless, the meeting went great. I have a much clearer picture of what is expected of me at the end of June. I also asked if there is anything I can improve on or should be doing differently and there was nothing that he had to say. I also presented a short update on the progress of my work and suggestions for two master’s projects this spring. He was very encouraging with these ideas and I plan to make up the formal proposals this week.

I was pretty pumped about the outcomes of the meeting. However, as the day went on, things got worse and worse as far as my health was concerned. By lunch time I was feeling pretty queezy. I had planned to go to the rec center to hang out by the pool with my housemates, but had to cancel and instead I slept for 3 hours. I slept like a rock. I couldn’t eat much and the thought of food was pretty discomforting. I did go back into work for the afternoon and made some headway with the librarian in signing up 2iE for a network which will allow them free access to some very powerful academic journal publishers. It is long process so I am glad to have it started. It is will also be a great opportunity to practice my French since the librarian does not speech English. After work on Monday I showered and crawled into bed. I finished reading my book and then went to sleep. The book finished up so well. It was such an intense story! All and all by the time I fell asleep I was feeling much better. For dinner I had only some bread and jam. I seemed able to handle it fine although I would occasionally feel a sharp pain in my stomach.

Monday night I was asleep by 7:00 and I didn’t set my alarm. I woke up at around 8:45 on Tuesday . I stayed in bed a while and finally got up made a sandwich of a scrambled egg and cheese for breakfast, cleaned my room and went into work around 10. It worked out fine. I got feeling better and better as the day went on. I still slept through the break though. I think my body needed the rest still. The afternoon at work went fine. Not too much to report. I spent most of this time writing this post. When I finally did leave my office it was too late to go to the Petites Delices so I tried to make pita bread again and failed, sad. I think I am going to look for a new recipe… I also planned for bible study on Wednesday and then watched Tallagadega Nights which I borrowed from Susan… Funny movie.

Oh, I also learned the package my parents sent won’t get to me until the end of the month instead of this week… talk about a disappointment. The family who was supposed to bring it left their house and went to another one for a few days before heading to Ouaga so they didn’t get the package. It will be sent with the next team that comes, but I was so looking forward to getting my new ipod, sandals and the movie Miss Potter. Again, I am learning patience!

Thursday is Valentine’s Day which is always exciting mainly because it means my birthday is only 3 days away. Can you believe I will 23? I can’t believe I will be 23… I feel like I am still 20! I am teaching at WIRED on Thursday and then I’m looking forward to the softball tournament this weekend. I will let you know how that all turns out!

Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso! and Biosand stuff...

Oh-kay, so. This is it. The money round. The real deal. What am I talking about? Good question. I don’t think I even know… All I know is that I have officially been in Africa for 4 months! It seems impossible, but alas it is true. The next full month mark means I am over halfway through with my stay here. (I also determined that my birthday, February 17, I almost exactly halfway. Crazy.) Anyway, this is a rather sobering thought. I want to make sure I make the most out of time here, but part of that is just enjoying each day and not counting down… you know!? Fine, enough of that; now it’s on to hopefully most interesting inner dialogue.

Sunday night was really fun. The whole tennis thing was a bit of a wash since my teacher wasn’t there. Africa. But I did get to play with some other ladies which was fun. I had Leanna, Tyler, Will and Ben over for dinner. We tried to do frozen pizzas, but forgot to grease the pans, which weren’t really pizza pans to begin with, and things got a bit crispy and out of control. Have you heard of puzzle cake, well this was puzzle pizza to be sure! After we had popcorn and played UNO. It was a riot. Way more fun than a movie or something like that. We played the “speed” UNO version which really brought the heat up a notch. I really like my friends here :)

Monday was pretty hectic. I was trying to make sure everything was ready for my trip on Tuesday. I rearranged by tennis lesson and French lesson for 12:00 and 5:00 respectively. I figured since I would be gone I needed to get that weeks stuff in on Monday before I left. Bad idea. I was crazy busy on Monday. Getting final permission to go, doing one last flow rate measure before going. I also woke up late which was the kicker! Then I am getting ready to go to tennis and trying to make a sandwich and the housemates are in the kitchen and have moved my stuff and just grrrr…. So I get to tennis and as I am riding past the gate the front tire on my bike turns funny and I brush the wall with my arm. Unfortunately, it was not a smooth wall, but very jagged and I scrapped up my arm but good . So here I am frustrated, distracted and trying to play tennis. FYI this is not a good combination. I finally explained to my teacher I was not having a good day and so he changed the type of drill we were doing to something that was way more suited to my mood. It was a quick reflex drill where I stood at the net and pelted the tennis balls at the ground. Excellent! This is why I enjoy my tennis teacher so much! Despite my housemates slowing down my progress I did make myself a lunch and ate it by the pool after my lesson. I then went to Les Petites Delices where I posted the last blog entry I am sure you read ;)

After showering I did not want to go back to my office so I stayed in my room and worked there instead. I was much more productive that way. I also hand washed the clothes I wanted to bring with me. You know how I said I would never do that again. It was a lie. Its not so bad to hand wash my clothes as long as I don’t try and do them ALL at once, that is just overwhelming. The afternoon went really fast and before I knew it my French teacher was there. The lesson was okay, but again I was out of it a bit. (Note to self, don’t try to squeeze everything you do in a week into 1 day. It doesn’t work.) The best part of Monday was talking to my Mom. I don’t even remember all we talked about, but I really just needed to talk even though we had chatted on Saturday as well. I miss not being able to call home in my free time. It stinks having to make appointments to talk to my family. I liked it better at Princeton where I could just dial home as I walked between classes to find out how life is back in Crete. Oh, and not having to worry about a 6 hour time difference, that was nice too!

I slept well on Monday night and was able to get up on Tuesday with surprising ease. It must have been that I was looking forward to leaving for Bobo-Dioulasso. I went into the office for just an hour or so to finish the last minute stuff I didn’t get done on Monday. I came back and exercised, showered, packed and was ready to go at 10:00. Tim Albright came to pick me up at about 10:20 and we then went to the pick up Bev, the women who would be running the Biosand training session. She was having some visa problems with the Ghanaian Embassy so we sorted all that out and then hit the road. The trip there took about 5 hours. But it was really quite pleasant. The Albrights have a literally brand new 4x4 and all the roads are paved. Yeah. We all talked about different subjects, about our selves, ect. The time passed very fast. I read a little and slept some too, which was nice.

When we got to Bobo we headed over to ACCEDES, an acronym for some long sentence describing a CMA health and social wellness center. This was where the workshop would be taking place the next morning so we set everything up, made sure the room was as it was supposed to be and that they had all the necessary tools. So I thought going into this thing that it was a conference on Biosand Filtration. I was wrong. It was a workshop on how to build a Biosand filter. Even better if you ask me. Bev, the women running the workshop, works with Samaritans Purse as the water and sanitation programs coordinator in Liberia. It was great to get to know her. We got along great and had some awesome conversations about development, NGOs, faith, ect. We all stayed at the CMA guesthouse in Bobo which had very nice accommodations. Each night Tim, Bev and I went out to eat. The first night we went to a place called L’escala. I made a bad choice in ordering and got a very bad cut of meat, most of which was fat that did not taste at all like how it was described on the menu. However, Tim and Bev both ordered pizza and had some left over so I had some of their meals. The worst part was I was SO hungry going into dinner. We had eaten lunch at 12:00 and I had had no snacks all afternoon and we didn’t leave to go eat until 7:00. At about 5:00 I started to feel kind of sick, I think I was hungry… luckily I got over it and made it until dinner, but talk about a disappointment! Oh another thing I should mention is that I was having a terrible time getting a hold of Maggie. Since I was out of town I was hoping she could do bible study with the girls. Actually, I was pretty much counting on it, but it turns out she got sick last weekend and wasn’t up to the task. So bottom line was I had to cancel the study. It was only the second time we were to meet and I had to cancel it. I felt so bad about this. And, I didn’t have internet to email the girls so I had to text Leanna and ask her to send out the email for me! Oye! Life can be complicated.

Wednesday was the first day of the training. Bev did a great job and after lunch the workshop consisted of actually getting the mold ready and pouring the concrete. We wanted to do this part the first day so the second day we could take the mold off and the third day install the filter. It was hard work, but not an unreasonable amount of effort given the end purpose was producing a filter to provide safe drinking water. Tuesday night we went to a restaurant called “L’eau Vive” or living water if you will… It is run by Spanish nuns (random fact). Anyway, my food choice was better with some Capitaine (Niger river fish), but even better than that was the fresh squeezed mango juice. I think that having that mango juice may have validated my spending 9 months in Africa it was that good!

Wednesday night I finally brought myself to write up the Market Study Proposal and Promotional ideas I had promised to send to Nicolas. I do good work when I can get myself to work, but sometimes it is hard when all of the effort has to be self-motivated. If I can learn how to do that I know I can be successful. But unless you have been in a situation where you could go days without doing anything and no one noticing or seeming to care for that matter, and still get paid… Only then do you really understand the challenge and extreme importance of self-motivation!

Thursday’s workshop program was the same and Wednesday’s as far as session lengths and break times. The two days really run together in my mind… Anyway, there was a small problem with demolding the filter. Some of the concrete was quite set yet, or a little dry, and part of the faucet nose-looking piece broke off. Luckily, the filter was still usable and it was actually a really good lesson in trouble shooting and getting the kinks out of using a new filter mold. For more info on the filters check out, Basically, they are a 4 ft tall column, 1.5ft by 1.5 square cross sectional that holds three layers of sand that the water flows through. They are called Biosand filters because it is actually the biological layer (of scum really) that forms on the surface of the sand that removes the pathogens from the water.

Anyway, that afternoon we learned how to prepared the sand, i.e. sieve to separate grain sizes and wash to remove silt. That was as much of the training as I stayed for. The only part that I missed was the actual installation. I wish I could have stayed because afterwards I would have been “certified” to build these filters, but I really needed to get back to Ouaga by Friday midday. Thursday night we ate at a place called Le Canne d’Or (The Gold Cane). The pepper steak I got there was the best of the meals over the time we were there. I didn’t really like having to eat out all of the time. It is so time consuming and the tabs begin to add up even though I wasn’t paying… The best part of the meal the last night and the other time I spent in the evenings with Bev was the great conversation. She is in the same field as I am and it was great to hear her thoughts and opinions on development work, large agencies, and smaller NGOs. Working in third world countries is like opening Pandora’s Box. Once you do, there is no going back. It’s like falling through the rabbit hole and realizing it is much much deeper than you could have ever predicted from the outside. I felt comfortable enough to ask some really tough questions. It has really got my brain going!

Unfortunately, Thursday night the power was out for half of Bobo and so there was no hot shower. Before we went out to eat we had some time to kill back at the guesthouse. I read for a while, but couldn’t keep reading. I had finished my book, “Things Fall Apart” on Tuesday and was moving ahead in the ongoing attempt to read the Federalist Papers. But there is only so much of that stuff you can take. I think that is why they appeared as a series of newspaper articles over many months! Anyway, I was going to take a nap but instead decided to work out. I couldn’t run outside so just did the strength section of one my workout videos I know by heart. Problem was I didn’t stretch before or after and now, two days later I am still sore!

Friday I got on a TCV bus at 7:30 headed for Ouaga. It was a very easy, but squished trip. TCV is, however, a very reliable company (one of the few…) so I didn’t mind. They do have a VIP class bus which is really roomy inside, but it left at 9:00 instead of 7:30 and I needed to be back for a 3:30 meeting with Nicolas. So I suffered the cramped leg room and smelly people. Besides being long the trip was fine, no problems or delays. I got back to Ouaga and just paid a taxi to get to 2iE. Being able to get from Bobo to my house all together was something I was rather proud of. In addition to the meeting with Nicolas I also had a French lesson at 5:00 and then was having Lydie, Nathalie (two girls from work who both speak English), and Susan over for dinner. BUT there was some miscommunication and people got days mixed up. I expended a great deal of energy making sure plans were in place and the two ladies knew where and when to come. Thankfully, it all worked out :) The meeting with Nicolas went well. With a bit of luck and hard work, more hard work I’m guessing… we will have the market study commissioned by the end of the week. I am also working on putting together a pitch to my boss about Point of Use (POUs) water filtration systems. 2iE needs to be more of a leader in this sector. Instead of waiting for piped water systems to come, the international community has recognized that individual household scale filters and safe storage is a viable means of improving access to safe drinking water. There are many ways for 2iE to take the lead here and I don’t think they even know some of these technologies exist! My French lesson was, whatever… I have been struggling these last few days. I need to sit down and review and rebuild a bit of confidence.

Dinner was awesome on Friday. Susan made sloppy joe meat and a nice salad and I bought buns and made corn bread. The corn bread BTW was outstanding and so so easy to make. Another kitchen victory for chef Sara ;) Minus the sugar that went into it there was only yogurt and so I felt good about the health factor too, although Susan kind of burst my bubble and told me a quarter cup of sugar was enough to make something sweet like it was… Anyway, the sloppy joes were a hit and it was so fun explaining to a French woman and a Burkinabe woman how you make and eat a sloppy joe. They were good sports though and I think they really did enjoy the dinner. Afterwards, we headed over to Susan’s to watch Miss Congeniality 2. Sandra Bullock is Lydie’s favorite actress and she hadn’t seen this film yet. Lydie is really a great lady, and it was so neat to do something nice like that for her. While a bit over the top and silly, it was still a good movie and we all laughed out loud many times! Susan made more of her awesome brownies for dessert. It was quite the evening. I especially like that it was a chance for Lydie and Nathalie to have an American meal (very American if you ask me) and see a film in English. Yeah!

Even though the movie ended at 10:30, I didn’t get to bed until 1:00am. I played my guitar a bit and then went through the pictures to give to Bev. I had taken my camera and snapped a bunch of photos during the workshop. The thing about being more serious about my photography is that I want a chance to look through them and choose the best ones. I don’t want to give people 150 photos because 1. they won’t do anything with them because the shear number is overwhelming and 2. half of those aren’t very good and I only want to circulate good pictures I have taken. Oh I should mention also that I haven’t seen my two housemates since I got back on Friday. Weird, but you don’t see me complaining! AND, I got the skirt back that I commissioned the tailor to make for me. It is okay. I didn’t like it at first, but now that I figured out where the zipper goes and tried it on with my different tops I like it. The skirt construction is just so so, but the fabric is really a great pattern. I had a scarf made of the same material as well and I am sure I will wear it a lot!

Saturday morning I unfortunately couldn’t sleep in because I was headed to the Baobob Toastmasters Club meeting. This is the French speaking Toastmasters Club in Ouagadougou. One of the 2iE members was giving her 10th speech there and so Susan, myself and 4 other 2iE members came to support her. This club is run the same way as ours, but they have it at a very nice hotel and have a nice breakfast and stuff. The club dues are way higher and the people in the club are of a different social class, if you will, than most of our members, but other than that aspect and the language difference I think our club is very similar. Our level of seriousness and sincerity in what we do is very similar; we just don’t have as much money. Our club can aspire to be like the other one, but we just can’t afford it and it shouldn’t be about having it in a fancy hotel its about learning to be a good speaker. You can do that anywhere! Anyway, after the meeting they had a huge luncheon at Club Belko, all paid for by the club, and of course we were invited. The food was great and it was fun to see people stand up and give toasts, indeed living up to the toastmaster name! Tonight I am headed to Mary Ellen’s house for dinner with Susan. I originally had a tennis lesson scheduled, but since I still can’t even walk very easily courtesy of my in room, no stretching, bad workout choice on Thursday, I decided to postpone the lesson to a day when I would actually get something out of it! Bianca is coming to Ouaga today and I am missing an Edge service which I am kind of sad about, but I forgot about it when I made plans with Mary Ellen… The super bowl on Sunday should be fun. It will be a late night for me, the game will start about 11pm our time, so you do the math of when it will be over. BUT I think I can suffer through work the next day okay… and come on it’s the super bowl.