My first Christmas away from home was spent like any other–dripping with sweat and surrounded by Muslims. Some other volunteers from my training group and I went back to Leo where we stayed this past summer to be with our host families for the holidays and things have changed a lot there. My baby host brother has reached the stage of African baby development in which he’s noticed that white people look different from everyone else he’s ever seen, so he cried a whole lot, and my host sister Barkissa was 9 months pregnant. The day after Christmas I got to talk with her over the phone as her newborn was crying in her arms. It’s a boy, and I don’t want to seem unreasonable or dramatic but if they name it anything other than Clayton Blunk Jr I will be deeply hurt. As I said, my host faimily is Muslim, so a friend and I got to introduce them to the whole Christmas tree/stockings/gift exchange deal. I gave my host parents a chicken and a new tea set and I gave the kids a whole lot of candy and Fanta. I was excited about giving the chicken as my host father had talked about wanting one but not having enough money, so I figured they’d keep it as an egg laying hen, but they just killed it for me that day and made me eat most of it so that kind of backfired (although I suppose it backfired in my favor so I can’t complain).
That night all the volunteers met at a bar in town for drinks and a white elephant gift exchange. I’m pretty bad at gracefully receiving gifts, so when you throw gift stealing and so many other people into the mix, the part of my brain that controls social normalcy gets a little cramped and I end up forcing smiles till my face hurts, but it was fun to be with everyone again and no one stole my gift.
This morning Derek and I took a bike ride SW of Founzan towards a small village called Lollio. We ate galettes and I read birthday letters and texts under a tree. It’s been a good day so far. I’m in Boromo now (a town 52k east of me with internet) because I really wanted to get a blog post up, but I’ll head back soon and spend this evening at site. This keyboard is really clunky though and my friend Amber is passed out next to me waiting for me to finish typing this so I should probably go. In a week I’ll have faster internet and will be able to post more, so sit tight mom.