9 August 2014
Rain shuts down Burkina.
The first weekend in August I went on a bike ride out of town in Leo to find a rumored lake/dam (barrage). There’s one barrage right at the edge of town, but there might be a crocodile that lives in it and there’s not really anywhere to hang out beside it. About 10k out my travel partners and I turned back when it started to rain. The fields that had held farmers were empty. When we got back to the city and passed through the marche, we saw almost no one. The marche probably usually holds about a thousand people. No one was on the road.
There’s a possible referendum coming up (in January?) to see if the current president can run for additional terms than the constitution currently allows. Burkinabe get riled about this for several reasons. For the Peace Corps, it might result in Volunteers taking more security precautions during a period of possible unrest or Volunteers being temporarily removed from the country. Someone made a point that it probably won’t come to that. Any unrest would probably only occur in larger cities – the general population of subsistence farmers are going to keep farming no matter who’s in power and don’t have time to go to riots.
There’s supposed to be an opposition protest this Saturday in Ouaga. We’ll see how it goes.
On the 15th I went to a Mass at the top of a hill for the Assumption of Mary – whose after party was on the same magnitude as that of Ramadan. (At the end of the Ramadan fast there’s a party at everyone’s house. You wander around to your Muslim friends’ houses and eat their party food. Kids bring whatever their parents have prepared that day to all their neighbors. It’s a good day for food.) The Mass was only about three hours which was pretty impressive given that it was in four languages.
Sunday we packed up and left Leo. Right now I’m in Ouaga.
On the 19th we were sworn in as Volunteers at the American embassy which was really nice. The building is air conditioned, there are clean toilets and hot water. They had American cake at the swear-in ceremony. For lunch we had hamburgers, grilled chicken fillets, and pasta salad.
Today is shopping day. For those Volunteers whose sites are new, they receive additional money as a settling in allowance to buy basic furnishings for their house. As two Volunteers have preceded me, my house is very well furnished. I have bookshelves, a bench, tables, gas stove burner, buckets, “teapots”, food prep and eating tools, and a cot. My shopping today was mostly food that I won’t be able to buy in-village.
Thursday morning a Peace Corps driver will take me from Ouaga to village. I’ll have limited access to email through my phone for the next three months during which we’re generally restricted in where we can travel, and it’s generally limited to two days a month. After the first three months at-site we’re given four days each month to stay out of site, not including vacation or “work work” and can travel freely. (Almost freely: The sahel region in the north of Burkina is a no travel zone for Americans due to terrorist group presence north of Burkina.)