Replacement? Replace me?! Ha! Well, meet Troy: a tall, dark haired, male Caucasian who wears jean shorts (not pictured) and tolerates long games of jenga with small children. I guess I can be replaced.
Two years ago I was a bright eyed Peace Corps Trainee seeing Founzan for the first time during what’s called Site Visit, and now all of a sudden I’m the expert, showing Founzan’s second Volunteer—Troy the English teacher—down the winding dirt paths and directly to the best cold beer and dolo joints this town has to offer. Funny how that goes. I gave him the tour of his house (our house, he insisted), pointing out the hole in the ground he’d soon poop over and the spot on the courtyard wall that kids have learned to climb. I took him around the neighborhood. “This is the deaf guy who only ever wants to drink dolo,” I’d say, “there’s the child who will make you insane.” It was self affirming and very exhausting.
Of course, it was also super weird. When you leave a normal job, you don’t have to show the new person who will be taking your position around the office, to your old bosses and coworkers. And then you certainly don’t walk them around your neighborhood and give them tips on living in your cement block house with no electricity or running water. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s very strange to look at the people you’ve formed these relationships with over the past years and say, « welp gotta go here’s the new guy from now on call him Toubabou. » It’s like when a sit-com adds a new character to combat low ratings and he busts in with some catchphrase and a big smile and everyone is scratching their heads.
But that’s not exactly what it’s like. This is how Peace Corps functions; Troy isn’t a zany, forced sit-com character. In fact, he’s a super nice dude. My neighbors and colleagues were excited to meet him and he was already thinking of possible community projects and ways to landscape my (our) courtyard lawn (a pressing issue).
As for the old, dried up first Volunteer of Founzan, ça va un peu. It just occurred to me this past week that I have only one remaining month left in village. People back home have asked what it feels like to almost be done in Burkina, and I don’t want to bum anyone out but it doesn’t feel that great. My life is in West Africa now, and my mind won’t stop working on « this could be the last time I do [fill in the blank] » thoughts. But that doesn’t get me anywhere so for the moment I’m just trying to enjoy the time that remains and not overthink things. I’m excited to come home but I’m not rushing it. There’s no rush.