In the morning when I wake up, Rassi-Ratou gets me a large bucket of water and places it in my “shower. This process was surprisingly not difficult to get used to and is really refreshing everyday. Sitting in class in the sweltering heat, I am already looking forward to my nightly bucket bath. In any event, the bucket is a large plastic one that we in the states use for mopping floors. Rassi-Ratou fills it with water from the well ( I am not allowed to get the water for myself…yet because it takes some finesse and strength that I don’t possess, not to mention I could fall in) There is a cinderblock in the shower that I can sit on and then I take cup-fulls of water and dump it over myself. After I get all soapy, then I dunk my head into the bucket to wet my hair, then wash my hair and finally dump the remaining bucket contents over myself to rinse off. Between squatting when I bathe, use the latrine and riding my bike all over creation, I am certain that my legs are getting stronger quickly.
By the time I wake up at 6:15 everyday, my family has already been up for 2-3 hours. My family is Muslim, and there is a call to prayer each morning at 4:15 am so for the first few days I would wake up then for a few mins and then go back to sleep, but last night I didn’t hear it at all. After I am all clean from my very cold but refreshing bucket bath, I sit down and eat breakfast by myself. Since I got here my breakfast has consisted of 1 baguette with butter and jam, a cup of tea or instant coffee, and an anti-malarial pill.
On Wed morning last week, my first morning eating breakfast at my new home, I made the mistake of taking my anti-malarial pill before I ate. Even though I was able to eat the rather odd dinner of spaghetti with fish/goat and some to (essentially cream of wheat) with a sauce made of vegetables and peanuts without incident, when I sat down the next morning to eat my very plain breakfast I took like 3 bites and had to run to the latrine and throw up, then back again a few minutes later. Because it was my first day there, and my language skills are not quite there yet, it was quite difficult to explain to my sister-in-law that it wasn’t the very delicious breakfast that she had made me that made me sick, but rather the medicine. Even though that was quite embarrassing, I think we have finally moved beyond it.
After breakfast, I get on my bike and ride to school. The trip takes about 10-15 minutes, it’s not very far at all. It would be like riding from my house in GP to Grosse Pointe South. Here in Burkina, there are a quite a number of spoken languages. My family speaks French, Djula, Moore and some Arabic (for religious reasons) my sister Rassi-Ratou, Rashida-tou and Maumauni also speak some English. In Koudougou where I live now, Moore is the dominant language other than French. Whenever any of us leave our homes or training center, we are greeted by the people on the streets yelling “nasara nasara!!” or “le blanc le blanc!” Nasara is the Moore word for foreigner and le blanc is French for white. Even in casual conversation at home, my family refers to me as nasara.
The other night at dinner (when I finally got them to eat with me, not by myself) I used all the French I could muster to tell them as directly as possible that my name is NOT "nasara" and that they can call me Kate or Kaytah (my new Moore name) only. Since we had this discussion and after they all spent a good amount of time laughing at me, (which is a favorite pastime at my home) they no longer refer to me as nasara in my presence. I have taken this as a sign that my language skills are improving.
Right around the same time as Thanksgiving, (which we are planning as a stage group) is the Muslim holiday of Tabaski. I am really excited because the staff will give us the afternoon off the celebrate with our families and I could not be more excited to finally spend some time with my family and learn about their religion and cultural traditions. Ill keep you posted on how that goes.