Site Announcement!

I just found out where I will be placed in-country for the next two years on Wednesday!

Basically the whole week leading up to site announcements I was a nervous wreck. As I freaked out on my family, my host mama told me she was praying for me (do those prayers count for more during Ramadan? Asking for a friend…) and my mantra for the week has been “J’ai Allah avec moi”. Which doesn’t really do anything because I’m all sorts of non-spiritual but hey, you take the dieties you can get, right?

My site is a city called Dedougou and it’s the regional capital in the Central-West part of the country. This is absolutely amazing because it’s an urban environment so the usual amenities will be easier to find (ie electricity/ internet/ a variety of food to cook with etc) and rumor has it I have a pretty bitchin’ house so holla at me MTV Cribz PCBF edition. I’m a little bummed because it means I don’t get a true “Peace Corps Unplugged” experience. However I distinctly remember reading a blog and being shocked at someone’s dismay at getting a site with electricity because he thought PC didn’t think he could tough it out. So I’m considering myself extremely lucky! I also share my site with another Volunteer which is great because now I have another American in my site which is rare in PC and most Volunteers are the only one stationed at their site, with the exceptions of marriages, etc…

OH OH OH there’s apparently a Catholic Center near my house that makes cheese. HELLS. YES. Hope they sell to Catholics of the fallen variety.

I’m a little far away from other peeps in my stage but ‘tis Gucci, as I will use all of my capital goodies (ie le fromage) to get them to come to me!

Whoo hooo! Amped for site visits next week!

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Updates whoooop!

We are technically still in the honeymoon period of Pre-Service Training so I’m pretty content. Even bad days in Africa aren’t that bad because despite what’s happening, I still get to be in Africa and pretty much anything crazy or weird that happens to me is a funny, albeit probably disgusting, story I can tell later (except for latrine roaches…those are no laughing matter and pretty much all gross).

This will likely when I get seriously ill and I don’t have my roommates to French braid my hair while I’m tossing my cookies BUT HEY SO FAR SO GOOD!

We also get out sites this week which is exciting and nerve wracking and I can’t wait to take another unsuspecting Burkinabe village by storm!

I’m here! And alive!

HAYYYYYYY FROM AFRICA. So here’s what I’ve been up to since I left the loving embrace of my parents in Boston:

 

A quick break down on our journey here: My whole staging class (all education volunteers, teaching either pre-school, math, science, or english) all met in Philly for an orientation. After a day of ice breakers and talking about spiders and parasites, we went out for a “last meal” (craft beer and flat bread pizza, y’all).

The next day (Thursday), we head up to JFK (and I got WAY too nostalgic about NYC because #Barnard) and sat in the airport for half the day until we caught our flight to Brussels, hung out in THAT airport for more hours until we boarded our flight to Ouagadougou!

Once arrived, PC staff met us and guided us through customs and transported us all back to our hotel which is really a convent and I walk around terrified that the natives will figure out I’m a fallen catholic. Also it’s hot. Like really hot. Like subway platform in July hot. AND IT WILL GET HOTTER.

After a dinner of rice in a chicken/ okra sauce and malaria pills, it was bed time THANK GAHD because at this time we had gone on two different 6+ hour flights and sleeping didn’t happen.

This all took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina, we then were transferred to Leo where we met out host families!

We spent a few days in Ouaga getting ourselves oriented and bonding as a stage (read: stahhhhhhhge) then bussed our way to Leo for training where we got our host families!

My host family consists of my host dad, two host moms (but the first wife picked me up, so I’m assuming shes my “real” host mom), and God knows how many host siblings. It’s actually seven BUT THEY’RE EVERYWHERE so it seems like they multiply. They are a practicing Muslim family which I requested because I feel like I’m lacking major knowledge in Islam. Also, they speak Arabic, Allah Akbar!!!!!!!, so now I can sprinkle in Arabic words for the French words I don’t know. Most of the time is just my family laughing at me because I know so few languages and they all speak like five.

Most days I wake up, take a bucket bath, head to PCT training, head home, take another bucket bath, hang out with Habiba and Hussein (le host sibbys) who like playing catch with me, eat dinner, and then my host mama tries to teach me a little French/ Arabic/ Moore/ Nuni whatever she feels like, then I pass out. The rooster outside my window crows at all hours of the night so my next goal is to learn “If you slaughter this bird, may I do the honors?” in French.

My host family is shocked at how little I eat (but I’m super healthy- no worries to those concerned about my well being!) and ask me all sorts of fun stuff about America. My host mom is a hair dresser and so I get to meet her clients when I come back from school. They try to practice their English on me and I try to practice my French on them so it’s just a hot mess.

Speaking of hot messes, it is mads sweaty up in here. And riding a bike in a maxi skirt is incredibly difficult. I hate JCrew ads for telling me biking in a skirt is fun and whimsicle it is NO SUCH THING.

 

Miss Me Already?

On June 4th I will be transporting my sorry self to Burkina Faso to teach math as a Peace Corps Volunteer! You can follow my undoubtedly awkward interactions with literally everyone here.

Knowledge is Power

Burkina Faso is a small, land locked country in West Africa (bordering Ghana, Togo, Mali and other such nations). Like most of West Africa, there’s quite a bit of French speaking going on so I’ll be able to expand my vocabulary beyond “croissant” and “Louboutin”.

On June 6th, I will land in the capital, Ouagadougou (wah-gah-doo-goo) for a couple days before heading to the training site (and my host family!!) in Leo (Map Attached) for 10 weeks of training before travelling to my village, the location of which is still undisclosed.

Leo is just north of Ghana
Leo is just north of Ghana

Things you, as my friends and family, can do for me while I’m gone:

1. TALK TO ME! I will likely miss everything about this country the second I step on African soil so please write me letters, e-mail me, and send me the occasional carrier pigeon. Tell me about your life, your job, your friends and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IF BEYONCE DROPS A NEW ALBUM WHILE I’M AWAY YOU ALERT ME IMMEDIATELY.

My address while I’m in training is as follows:

Hadden Martinez, Peace Corps Trainee
01 BP 6031
Ouagadougou 01
Burkina Faso

2. Bear with me. Running water, electricity, and internet access are extremely difficult to come by, though I’m pretty sure Wi-Fi is the easiest to obtain out of all of those. Communication will be intermittent but I’m likely still in Africa and still alive, if ever you get worried.

I’m so stoked to share more information about Burkina when I’m there because at this point, I’m pretty much regurgitating what PC/ Wikipedia told me.