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Monday, May 28, 2012

A Peace Corps Story

One day, Abe decided to buy himself a fancy bazan complet for a party.
You see, there was a ptretty girl in his stage and he really wanted to
impress her. She has a wonderful way of making him blush, even more
than the alcohol. Every time he saw her, she made him feel so warm and
fuzzy that he no longer needed to wear socks with sandals.
So, when market day came, he went to find the best tissue he could
buy. But he didn't want just any old bazan, he needed a magic bazan of
special-fancy quality! When he asked around the market, everyone told
him to go to Mamou and "Find Bud." They told him he could find Bud by
looking for the only man in Guinee with a beer belly.
Bud's magic powers derived from his mechanic's coveralls, which were
given to him comme cadeaux for his 18th birthday from a dead fote
marchand. Among other things, these coveralls gave him the ability to
eat things made without mayonnaise and raise his hand without snapping
- the other Guineans around him worshipped him and his God-like
coverall-granted abilities
After traveling via taxi for 4 days, holding two burpy and smelly
kids, Abe finally arrived in Mamou to find Bud surrounded by Guinea's
finest beer. "Approach," said Bud, in a manner not quite unlike Olmec
in Legends of the Hidden Temple. He said, "Please sit, my bud of Bud -
but wait, not there! That table is only for vegeterians!"
Abe took a seat and took a gander - bazan was nowhere to be found in
Bud's "shop", let alone anything at all - it was completely empty, and
Abe bowed his head, pensaring of the object of his affection that he
wanted so badly to impress. Then anger began to broil in his stomach
(or was it that meal at that last stop in Dalaba?)
"Bud," Abe said in a firm voice, "I came for bazan and I'm not leaving
without bazan!" He even slammed his hand on the table for emphasis.
Bud, accustomed to receiving angry looks from Portos, cast an evil Pul
spell over the boy. The spell made it so the love struck Abe could
only speak in exclamations and rhetorical questions, like "eeh!" "oh!"
and "ou bien c'est pas ca?"
But what luck! Having paid attention in the cross-cultural trainings
during PST, Abe knew the only way to break the spell and purchase his
bazan waws to challenge the spellcaster to a breakdance fight!
What he wasn't expecting was that when he made the challenge and
turned on 99 Problems, a little smile appeared on Bud's mouth, and Bud
whipped off his coveralls displaying workout clothes with "Break Dance
Commander of the Universe" displayed on his suit. Abe knew it was all
over when Bud belly-flopped on the floor and started spinning on his
Little did Bud know what that disgusting meat dish leftovers were
scattered on the floor. Like a bowling ball on its way to getting a
strike, Bud slid across the room on his beer belly, knocking over a
pile of empty beer, Coke, and Fanta bottles. STRIKE!
Since he didn't actually finish his break-dancing routine, the spell
was weakened (though not completely gone.) As Bud rose to his knees,
Abe saw his chance, grabbing the nearby bottle of mayonnaise salad
dressing. With a might roar he threw the magical (and delicious!)
concoction onto Bud, sending sparks and kittens into the air, while
Bud began to scream "I'm melting! What a world, what a world!"
Abe watched as Bud slowly evaporated away, leaving behind a rapidly
disappearing cloud of smoke. The magic coveralls fell to the ground,
empty and sad without their hefty master. When the air finally
cleared, Abe was astounded to see that Bud's magic coveralls were
actually made of bazan! Letting out a joyous whoop, Abe donned his
fancy new clothes and set out on the road to woo his lady fair.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Don't follow your head - follow your heart

... and so life continues, much as it ever was. Milky tea over a book
in the mornings, concerns about hair and clothes, and joking with
coworkers while wishing there was something more interesting to do.
But for all that it's the same, everything comes with a twist - the
milk for the tea is powdered, the hair concerns are about whether my
porcupine braids came out while I slept, and my coworkers and I are
calling each other slaves and dog-eaters in French.

There's a much-needed break coming my way these next two weeks.
Reunion in Mamou! All the other volunteers that swore in with me will
be crowding together to spend every waking moment doing trainings,
having debates, going on field trips to chicken farms, and socializing
and catching up in every moment of downtime. I overpacked, but hey,
that's what being American is all about!

At site, there are work opportunities around every corner, but I've
frustratingly been unable to put anything into action. For a while it
looked like I'd be starting an after-school business club at the local
agricultural college, to counterbalance the fact that their business
professor died in December. The idea's not dead, but I'm going to have
to push a little harder when I get back at the end of May. Another NGO
is forming a women's cooperative to sell red palm oil, and I may be
leading a training on marketing - again, we'll see come June. A
neighbor wants to show me how to make soap, but wants me to promise
not to teach her method to anyone else. We're at a standstill on the
issue - I won't make the promise, since the whole point would be for
me to help someone else make money with the technique.

Mamou is probably just as much about seeing volunteers and expanding
my knowledge as it is about getting away and having time to think over
site issues with some sort of objectivity.

Hey, all you people back home! Have you SEEN the Sasquatch lineup this
year?! I wanted to stab myself in the leg with a fork when I saw it.
(Luckily they only use spoons in Guinea!) Childish Gambino! Cloud
Cult! Bon Iver! The Head and the Heart! It's like they took all the
artists that have been getting me through this transition to have one
big HEY CHELSEA, HAPPY BIRTHDAY shindig. I'm torn - such a great
lineup! Such a great festival! But I'm sure if I were to be at home
and be able to go, I'd just feel old and grumpy surrounded by too many
19 year old drunk Canadians. Happy 'Squatch Fest. Have fun everyone!
I'm there in spirit!