It’s been three weeks since I returned to site after March’s oil spill mishap.  The skin has all grown back and I feel 100%, but there is scarring and the leg modeling dream seems to get farther and farther away as the days go by.  Being back in Founzan is great–it’s amazing how much this place feels like home now, and how eager I was to get away from all of Ouagadougou’s luxuries (electricity, AC, wifi, fridges) and back to the 110 degree heat, 80-student classrooms, and 2 leg-climbing kittens that come with site.  Class is going really well.  It’s the third trimester which is the shortest and the last before summer break, so most of the kids are checked out.  I’ve tried to be more laid back at school lately.  I had a girl sleeping in the front row last week (I mean ok you can sleep in class but do it in the back row come on) and instead of taking it personally or calling her out, I set my phone alarm to two minutes from then and discreetly slipped it onto her desk.  Two minutes later I confiscated the disruptive phone from a confused and very awake student in the first row.


camping on porch

The English teacher at my lycee, Monsieur Zongo, had me come into his Terminale class to teach his students about America this trimester.  Terminale class can be compared to 12th grade in the USA I suppose, although it’s much harder to get there.  These are the smartest kids in town, most of whom will be headed to Ouaga or Koudougou next year for University.  To give you an idea, there are four 6e (sixth grade) classrooms at my school, each with around 85 kids, and one Terminale class with 50 kids.  You do the math.  Seriously do it, I’m sick of doing math.  Anyway, he asked me to come in and teach his class about American politics, society, geography, climate, etc. so I jotted down all I knew without the help of Wikipedia on one side of a small sheet of paper and showed up to class.  It went well overall, I drew a map of the US on the board and showed them New York, California, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.  I explained the President’s four year term (foreign concept for a class of 18- to 24-year-olds whose president has been in power since before they were born), and I showed them pictures of me with friends white water rafting and fishing, along with a fold out map of Half Dome from Yosemite.  It was fun to share that stuff with them but I felt like I had babied them once I held Q+A at the end:
« What does it mean when people say the diversity of the United States constitutes its wealth? »
« Why can the white man come to Africa but the black man cannot go to America? »
« Why is the black man still oppressed in the USA today and how has that changed over the years? »
Dammit doesn’t anyone want to just ask me what snow feels like?  It’s cold and wet and terrible.  These kids were smart, and I answered each question like a bad politician at a… Uh, at anywhere I guess:
« Well, I’m glad you asked that… Uh… Good question… Hmmmm… »
I did my best though, answering their questions as honestly as I could, wishing my country’s history wasn’t so embarrassing.

It’s hot in Africa.  The other day I tried to fry an egg on the concrete of my porch.  It slid slowly off towards my yard (apparently my porch isn’t level) and then Derek licked it up.  Myth busted, I suppose.  I was talking to the principal of my school about a week ago and I guess the way all my clothes were sticking with sweat to my body inspired him to mention to me that there’s a pool in Pa, a small truck-stop of a town 10km north of Founzan.  I cancelled my appointments and biked up mid-afternoon, a mess of sweat-stained clothes and helmet-matted hair, with dreams of pool-side beers and wifi.  Someone would probably tell me I had to take a shower before getting in the pool, and I’d laugh and agree, putting down my beverage as they showed me to the outdoor showers, etc, etc.
Well here it is:  the pool of Pa.  It’s located at an overgrown and abandoned hotel/conference center on the East side of town, and it doesn’t have a drop of water in it.  Pretty disappointing.  I walked around the grounds for a bit and ran into a guy who worked there.  He didn’t speak much French but I asked him where the water for the pool was and he said it was all gone.  I agreed, then asked when they’d put more water in.  He thought for a while.  Tomorrow, he said, Come back tomorrow.  I haven’t been back since.  Saying something will happen tomorrow in West Africa is like saying it’ll never happen, but who knows, maybe I’ll have a place to swim close to site in the near future.

I was in Bobo-Dioulasso this past weekend for a friend’s birthday.  Saturday morning we took a bike ride and then a hike down into a canyon to see the sacred catfish of Dafra.  Aside from throw up, this was the first touristy thing I’ve done in country, and it was so cool to see Burkina in a different light.  We fed chicken guts to the catfish and I wondered how bad of a curse Lord Dafra would lay down on me if I came back later with some fishing gear to catch all his fish.

Sorry the blogs are getting so scarce.  In all honesty not a whole lot happens on a day to day basis, so when I get to internet and sit down to write it’s often hard to think of anything to share.  Sometimes it feels like I have to pour hot oil on myself just to have anything to talk about at all.  Anyway, thanks for reading.



7 réflexions sur “

  1. Please do not feel that you need more hot oil spills to entertain your fans back in the States. We are relieved you survived the event and are back in your African home feeling well. Those were knowledgeable kids asking questions about our country that can be quite embarrassing. But the reason you are there is one of the great things about our country and citizens, like you, who volunteer to represent us. Love your blog Clay. Keep writing and do find a way to go fishing. Love, GPa

  2. Your blogs are so entertaining, Clay. I love them and can hear you talking as I read. Thank you for sharing. Love you and love that you are there doing your thang! xoxox

  3. Merci beaucoup, Burkina Clay! Great to hear about things further and see the pictures. Can’t wait to see what resort what the resort is like we’ll be staying with in June. I’ll probably not bring a swim suit in anticipation.

  4. We really enjoy your life stories … Well not Apollo, because he slept right through me reading it out loud. But I do at least. Especially your pictures …like those a lot … And the pool picture was …well … Reminiscent of an abandoned pool I saw once in Alabama … The community didn’t have the money to fix it and fill it again. The catfish pond looked more refreshing! Stay cool …if you can and soak it all up. You are missed !
    Deannine 😉

  5. really wonderful post Clay. I’m seriously paraphrasing a wise woman I know – but it seems apropos for you, an American who loves his country AND recognizes her warts: « I love my country just the way it is, and too much to let it stay that way ». Those students are asking questions that we all need to hear and consider. Thank you for the way you’ve shared. love you dearly.

  6. Yes, what your mom says. I love that quote in relation to the church, too! Good to hear your voice, Clay. We’re off to Heifer this weekend – 8 kiddos, including Alex. I always think of you when I’m there. Even if they don’t have Burkina Faso on the grounds, I’ll lift a prayer for you in Ghana and Kenya. Love you.

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