The highly anticipated second half of the April Audiofest has arrived. I tried to write a little more for each recording to make things less boring, so if the first one put you to sleep maybe still give this one a shot. Enjoy.
Edit: A couple recordings were mixed up or non-existent. My internet isn’t fast enough right now to upload the missing clips so I encourage readers/listeners to use their imagination when it comes to my Dioula proficiency level or exactly how annoying guinea fowl are. Thanks.
Thursday, April 16th
Some of these clips are sounds I feel like I hear all day long, but then when I pull out a recording device to document, Founzan immediately turns tranquil and silent and I can’t hear a thing. This is a case of that. Goats bleating everywhere 24/7 and then when I want a twenty second recording I have to chase one around on my bike to get it to yell.
Friday, April 17th and Saturday, April 18th
If I had recorded one clip of Volunteers just talking and hanging out in a regional capital it would have been so terribly far from interesting or worthwhile that I’d probably throw up. Somehow I managed to do this twice, back to back. Here we are: obnoxious, loud, self-important U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers in Bobo-Dioulassou for a birthday party. Don’t listen to these.
Sunday, April 19th
Burkinabé are a passive folk. A noteworthy aspect of this is how no one is annoyed or perturbed in the slightest at the presence of very loud, headache-inducing noises. So if, for example, the driver of your Rakieta bus (think dusty Greyhound) wants to listen to his ridiculous rap music from Côte d’Ivoire at 100 decibels over the bus’s sound system, nobody will speak up. Here’s that.
Monday, April 20th
When I grade tests, I’m careful to clearly mark with oddly colored pens (as in, not blue or black) correct and incorrect responses. If I don’t, kids will go back after they receive their graded tests, changing 3’s to 8’s, moving decimals around, and sometimes just writing solutions into blanks spaces, claiming I missed them when grading. This last one is the hardest to look out for, so if there’s ever an open spot where an answer probably should be, I mark it off and write zero and laugh and laugh. Here’s a kid named Tiono Alassane trying to argue his way into a couple extra points for his blue pen answer that was clearly written over my green pen marks after the day of the test. I’d translate this but I think what’s being said is clear in Alassane’s tone. I’m right; he ain’t.
Tuesday, April 21st
Some kids came over this particular evening to greet me (“bonsoir monsieur”), then all started greeting Derek too (“bonsoir Derek”). It’s almost cute how hilarious they thought it was. Almost.
Wednesday, April 22nd
Time to show off my Dioula on the internet! This is a conversation I had while buying tomatoes from a woman on the side of the road. I don’t know her name, but « Tomatitigi » is Dioula for « person who sells tomatoes » so let’s call her that.
Me: I’m going to make some spaghetti.
Tomatitigi: (Oh wait crap, I’m not sure exactly what she’s saying here.)
Me: Are you going to come? You’re going to come eat (the spaghetti, with me)?
Tomatitigi: [Dioula laugh] I’m going to come. We will eat. Your dog there, he doesn’t bite?
Me: The dog? He can’t do anything.
[Derek starts to walk away]
Tomatitigi: He’s leaving.
Me: He’s going to Pa (the next town over).
Tomatitigi: He’s going to Pa? [second great Dioula laugh]
Thursday, April 23rd
If you’re not of West African descent and you walk around in West Africa, it’s pretty likely that kids are going to chant things like “foreigner” and “whitey” in your direction. One of my greatest accomplishments in Founzan is that, after months of responding to calls of “Toubabou” (Dioula for “white”) with “Farafeen” (Dioula for “black”), kids around town now call me both. Here’s a recording of them getting into a good “Toubabou Farafeen” chant. This breaking down of racial barriers is probably a large reason for my nickname MLClay, given to me by the Mayor of Founzan*.
Friday, April 24th
I wanted to get a recording of the call to prayer at the Mosque in town for a long time because it’s just so pretty. I went in this Friday and participated in the whole service, and I really like the clip I snagged because you can hear a guy’s cell phone going off in the row next to me.
Saturday, April 25th
Sam Dol’s on the balaphone and is taking care of vocals; I’m banging away on the table with assorted pieces of scrap metal that is arguably too close to my recording device to sound good.
Sunday, April 26th
My courtyard door has a pretty basic latch on the inside to keep burglars and annoying people out. My 4-year-old neighbor Fatao knows he’s not among either of these demographics, so he’s figured out a way to slide the inside lock over with a stick through a small crack in the wall to let himself in. You know, for those days when his neighbor Clay has the door shut but still wants to hang out with him. On other days when I definitely don’t want Fatao around, I tie a chain through a loop in the door for extra security. Here’s Fatao trying to get past the chained door with the same « stick through crack in wall » method.
Monday, April 27th
This one is like the 16th; I couldn’t get a pintard (guinea fowl) to make its horrendous squawk so I had to chase one around while recording to get the terrible noise. Normally these birds offer this sound up unsolicited at all hours of the day. I haven’t been eating meat for about a year now and this stupid animal is the strongest argument against vegetarianism I’ve encountered yet.
Tuesday, April 28th
This is the inspiration for the April One-A-Day Recording Project, so I’m excited to finally get to it. There’s a video club (like a movie theater) down the street from me that turns their giant speakers out into the neighborhood when they play movies and TV shows, I guess as a way to share the wealth even with those who can’t afford the $0.20 entry fee. Anyway, Tuesday nights from 11pm to 12:30am they play an episode of WWE Raw, often so loudly that it sounds like the oiled homoerotic men are wrestling in their underwear and talking trash right in my very courtyard. Really an experience. This particular recording is even louder because I went out to the video club myself to watch. Here’s some muscly guy talking about how good he is at fake fighting some other muscly guy.
Wednesday, April 29th
Ok I can’t get enough of these balaphones. They just sound so awesome. Here’s a recording of a dude playing it in my marché at a dolo cabaret. He let me play it too, and my deaf friend ran over from another dolo cabaret and started dancing to the tunes so I must be pretty good.
Monday, May 18th
I totally forgot to make a recording April 30th. So I guess I blew it. No recording for every day in April, sorry everyone. Here’s one that I took just a couple days ago of a serious rainstorm in Founzan. This was on my list of sounds I wanted to share but unfortunately it didn’t rain at all in April in my site. It’s a legitimately scary experience to be in complete darkness (new moon was that same night) and to also be deafened by the sound of rain pouring down on the tin roof. That leaves smell, taste, and touch as senses that will help me identify intruders in my house in the middle of the night. Creepy.
To my brother Andy in Peace Corps Ethiopia: I’m very sorry to hear about the severity of your soccer injuries and that you’ll be away from village for so long. I’m certain though that you’ve already made amazing connections and friendships in your short time in site so far, and that everyone in Lima Bean will be so happy to see you when you get back. Bon guerison.
*No one has ever called me that, especially not the Mayor of Founzan