Saturday, July 19, 2008

I don't want to go into details, but Friday sucked.

If it had been any suckier, it would have collapsed upon itself, forming a huge black hole right here in the middle of Ouagadougou.

And if God were merciful, I would have fallen in and been instantly destroyed upon contact with the anti-matter, effectively putting me out of my misery.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ever since we moved out of our old house in Zogona, there has been a plague upon us. Living in Dassasgho has made us all sick.
What's up with that?
Only Valentine seems to have escaped. I had thought I was immune, but I spent a very hard night last night and am not feeling any better this morning.

However, despite my sad state, I climbed into the car this morning, ready to face a day full of errands. It helps that I have a driver- I certainly couldn't have driven myself.
The minute he turned on the engine and started backing out, I said "WHAT is that NOISE?"
Mahama gave me a look that said "Obviously out of her mind with fever", but I could hear a strange noise, just above the usual engine racket.
He couldn't hear it. Nor had my husband heard anything when he was driven to his office just minutes before.
But it sounded not quite all right.
Mahama sighed and , humouring me, got out and opened the hood.

The car that I want to sell, like NOW, had an unattractive patch of fresh oil ornamenting the usually pristine engine.
We had a leak.
I knew it.
I don't know much about cars... but I love music. Maybe that's what tipped me off? Sensitivity to the "music" of the motor? Funny the driver didn't notice. At any rate, he was pretty impressed by my instant diagnosis.

If I'd had more energy, I might have cursed or wept a bit. But I just stoically sent the thing off to our mechanic, who will probably emigrate to America off the profits he's made fixing this stupid car that I've barely owned for 10 months.

How I'm going to get everthing done by Saturday, I do NOT know.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If you live in Ouaga, will be moving here or even just know someone here, this is a good place to know about: AGIR medical clinic.
I was just there yesterday morning, dropping off a bag full of old prescription glasses. One of the many great things AGIR does is provide eye care and affordable glasses for needy people in Burkina. If you have old glasses to donate, AGIR will find someone that needs them, which is great!
They also have a regulat medical clinic that features two Belgian doctors that speak English really well. They are both missionary doctors and most of the money they make from treating well-off patients goes towards subsidizing medical care for the poor. They hope to eventually set up a mobile clinic to reach out to the poorest areas.
AGIR is in the Zone du Bois neighborhood, to the northeast of the University of Ouagadougou, very near the Lycee Technique.

I guess doctors are also on my mind because there are so many sick people around here. JP was up all night and feels dreadful. Mallory is being treated for malaria and the friend that the twins invited to stay the night last night has also come down with malaria. I think the girls all caught it two weeks ago when they slept over at a house with no screens or mosquito nets. Not a good idea in the rainy season in Burkina.

Only three and a half days left here in Burkina. It's hard to believe...

Monday, July 14, 2008

This morning was spent at the electric company office in Dassasgho, again trying to close down our account. I had plenty of time to look around and count the fellow sufferers - I mean clients- waiting in line. Sixty two of us there were, crammed into a small waiting room served by six glacially slow Sonabel agents.
I had a book along to pass the time, but even counting people in line was more interesting. 'The Crimson Code' by Rachel Lee is touted on the cover as "a highly complex thriller". But it is actually a very simple soporific.
At one point during the wait, the power went off for quite a while.
That's right. The Sonabel can't even keep the power on in their offices.

But that's all over and done and now I'm busy getting the car (which I'd like to SELL now, please) repaired. Yesterday's exciting adventures in the bush knocked the muffler loose and it needs some work now. That trip was so great in so many ways.
Anyway, judging from the noise it makes now, you'd think my feeble little station wagon had a 747 engine under the hood.
The extreme racket, coupled with the green color of my car, did give me worries that people were going to mistake my car for a Taxi Vert. The cheap local taxis here are olive green and usually in very bad repair. I always fancied that my car was a nicer shade of green- more turquoise-ish, but I was probably kidding myself. Nobody has flagged me down yet, but it's just a matter of time. I hope I can get it properly fixed before tomorrow morning...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yesterday morning was spent running errands, checking up on the painters at the house and visiting friends. Our good pals of Goat Race video fame are back from California for a short visit and it's so great to see them. (Check YouTube for the video if you haven't seen it. the search 'Ouagadougou goat race' unearths it nicely.)
Then Saturday afternoon was the goodbye party for me over at the Papiers du Sahel project. I'm leaving them after eight years, so I definitely felt it was an affair to mark with a celebratory meal and speeches. I contributed the money for the food and requested rice with beans. But the ladies had different ideas of what constitutes 'festive' and bought dried fish to cook up with the rice.
The dried lake fish here is black, smelly and often has maggots.
I'm just saying.

The real big event was the soft drink each of us got. That made the party. My kids were happy to have the cool Cokes on a hot afternoon, that's sure. But for the Burkinabe children it was really a huge event. A soda is something that you get a few times a year, if you're lucky. I knew one little boy that got an Orange Fanta as his Christmas gift one year. That's it - a bottle of orange soda. These kids were thrilled, but very well mannered. All the adults got served first as they waited patiently, as is the norm here in Burkina. 'Women and children last' is kind of the general theme in family and social life.
Anyway, everyone got their soda and rice and a (pretty) good time was had by all. It was about two hours of sitting outside with hoardes of flies buzzing around. And while I did my best, perhaps my speech was not All That. But there you go.

That night, JP and I went out to dinner with friends and then out to shoot a few games of pool. Maybe I seem to write that easily, but it's not a phrase that falls trippingly from my keyboard. I'm not much of a pool person. The last time I played was probably at the Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole Wyoming in 1987. And I haven't missed it. Really.
That said, it turned ot to be kind of fun, especially watching JP suffer through it all. If I may be said to be 'not much of a pool person', we could say that JP is 'the complete and utter antithesis of a pool person'. He actually played pretty well, but found it profoundly boring.
So, I guess we won't be buying a pool table for our house in France.

Despite the late night last night, we were all up early this morning. We had to be out at the Koubri monastery for the morning mass there. Brother Adrian himself had invited JP to bring the family out and JP found the offer irresistible. The downside was that the mass was two hours long and completely in Moore, which neither JP nor our children speak at all. And even I was at a bit of a loss, as I hardly speak it at all. I recognised about 25% of what was said. But at least with that, I could amuse myself by trying to guess which bible verses were being read. And during the homily, I listened very carefully, imagining that the priest was speaking a mixture of English , French and Moore. I just filled in all the blanks with what the word sounded like in one of the other languages. It worked great! In fact, I'd SWEAR that he said at one point;
'God spoke and there were mice. But they knew tai chi and there were problems. When the kangaroo is at the tomb all day - that's all. It gets better as God blesses them. Amen."
That's just a rough translation, of course.

Brother Adrian? Hard to describe. Our codename for him is 'HS' (Holy Smurf) Not that he is blue and featured in an animated cartoon series. But he is very, very short and has a very, very long white beard.
After the service, he took us on a tour of some of his favorite reservoirs.
That was sure exciting.
The kids sure thought so. Boy howdy, after a person sits through a two hour service in another language while being stared at by 300 or so curious people, he/she likes nothing better than to drive around the bush squeezed into a tiny car, touring small manmade bodies of water. Yessir. Nothing beats it.

I'm going to go lay down a bit.
More from me soon- maybe tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

So, here's the story; We're in a small Burkinabe village and all of a sudden, I change into a chicken. Sometimes I'm a turkey, but usually a chicken.

Anyway, there I am, all poutry-fied and Valentine is trying to catch me, but I run away. In my panic I run near the village reservoir which is filled with crocodiles. And there I meet the inevitable sad end of village chickens that venture near crocodile-infested waters.

This is a dream that Valentine (eldest daughter) has had repeatedly over the last few years. Her mom turns into a bird and runs around until torn apart by savage reptiles.
How strange is that? What does it mean?

Guess it's time to leave.

We'll have the fried chicken with sides of both coleslaw and psychoanalysis, please.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In a country where the vast majority of the population gets around by bike, scooter or on foot, the rainy season is a general invitation to chaos. No one is ever where they are suppoosed to be when they are suppposed to be there. So, you can sit at the phone company offices (for example) for over an hour, waiting for the employees to show up. Multiply this by the electric company and the water company and it adds up to lots of hours hanging out at public utilities. What fun. Remind me next time to move during the hot season. Oh wait- I forgot: I'm never moving again. EVER. It's way too much work. When I get to our house in France I am settling in and do not intend to be pried loose under any circumstances.
Unless JP gets a really cool job in, say, New Caledonia. That would be COOL!

Mostly I am making progress on our move. The house is being painted and small repairs made. The utilities will soon (I hope) be shut off.
The cats are all ready to travel. Their blood test results came back from France pretty quickly and the microchips are in, so Mr. Darcy and Cleo are good to go.

I have no access to TV and little to internet though, so I have no idea what's going on in the world beyond Ouagadougou. It's actually kind of soothing. I don't have to process any information not directly related to my immediate survival. Which is nice, because my brain is kind of tired. Maybe exhausted. I went to sleep at 7:30pm last night, fully clothed. I had laid down across the bed for "just a little rest". Right.

Monday, July 07, 2008

So, we're in this borrowed house, sharing space with a hoard of giant mutant cockroaches and several crazed kamikaze gekkos. Each morning before the kids get up, I patrol for buggy bodies- some dead and some still wriggling. This AM brought only two - one in the kitchen sink and a pony-sized brute in the bathroom off the room here the kids are sleeping.
In view of all the roaches-whom I loath- I take a pretty friendly attitude towards the gekkos. But try explaining that to them. I ran into a little one in the bathroom at about 6am today and despite my reassurances of good intentions towards him/her and all his/her kind it completely panicked and ran straight up the wall. Sadly, he had apparently not been informed by older and wiser lizards that his super -sticky feet would NOT be enough to hold him to the ceiling.
Luckily I saw what was happening and dodged out of the way as gravity had its way with him.
It's a happy ending: gekkos are amazingly bouncy. He scrambled off with no apparent harm done.
And I hold no grudges, despite the fact that he nearly landed on my head.
May he live long and munch many more roaches!

Yesterday was Tya's 15th birthday. But Severin remarked that it must have been her 5th, as the cake looked like it was made by Dr. Seuss. In my defense, it's VERY hard working in an unfamiliar kitchen. So, if her cake was somewhat lopsided and sported a pretty alarming shade of pink, it was not entirely my fault.
Plus, didn't mom always say that it's the thought that counts?

Friday, July 04, 2008

This has been one of the most insane weeks of my life. That said, it's probably not been anywhere near as bad as the final week before leaving France nine years ago. Back in late August 1999, I distinctly remember sitting on the floor amid the piles of suitcases and crates, weeping piteously. Of course at the time I had a just-turned-six year old, a three year old and year old twins who seemed to think that sleeping through the night was a nice concept for some folks, but not for them or me....
This time around the kids have been a tremendous help. Tya has been working right along side me and the twins packed many, many boxes of books. Which is a good thing, as we have over 2500 of them. Yes, we counted.
Severin? Well, at least he packed up his Legos and various treasures.
We did most of the packing ourselves, as the watchword was "triage". With 'only' a 20 foot container within the realm of financial possibility, we could not possibly have taken along nine-years' worth of household furnishings and knick knacks. So, sort we did. And it paid off yesterday. The container truck pulled up and the AGS fellows started loading boxes, boxes and more boxes. Everything fit that was supposed to and even a few extra items, like my crazy giant cement garden rabbit.
You don't want to know.

Now the house is empty and I'm onto the tasks of small repairs, painting and all that.
We've moved into a pal's house in Dassasgho.
No word from Inspector Sammy Dolly on the stolen goods.
I gave in and bought a cheap cell phone today. Folks that know me can once again call me at the old number.
Tomorrow is Tya's 15th birthday. She was just turning six when we moved here. Hard to believe.
Two weeks until we leave!

BTW : Happy Fourth of July!