Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

mercredi, août 09, 2006

Daily Life of a Peace Corps Stagiere

Well, here I am in Forecariah, Guinea. It is a small city located in south of the Basse Cote region of Guinea. The first in-country hurdle of a Peace Corps wanna-be is "stage". Stage refers to the 11-week period of training, host family-living and adjustment that the 29 of us must go through before being sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. I am in the G-12 group, meaning the twelfth group to have training in Guinea. Around six or seven years ago, the training for Guinea volunteers took place in Senegal but now it is in-country. I am in only the second stage at Forecariah. I live with a host-family and go to training sessions. It feels a bit like high school at times and the volunteers helping with training continually assure us that life gets much better once I get to site. Here is a general schedule of my life:

5:45 Wake-up and get dressed for running. I am trying to do this 3-5 times a week.

6:00 Meet Will for a run. It is still dark at this point so the extra challenge is to avoid twisting an ankle on the uneven roads. As the rainy season sets in more and more, the dirt roads quickly turn to lakes that empty into raging rivers. As you can imagine, water cuts through the road’s surface to create a wide array of hazards. We run for 40-60 minutes.

7:00 Return home for my bucket bath. Running water? Yes but it involves a large bucket of water, a small cup and my pouring water over my head/body. This method is quite effective and it’s amazing how much less water is used to bathe. After my shower, I dress, eat breakfast and head to school.

8 – 10. Class. This may include language (French or local languages. I am currently studying Susu, which is the national language in the region where I will be living.), technical language (teaching math in French), a medical information session, cross-culture classes or a safety/security session.

10 – 10:30 Break!

10:30 – 12:30 More class

12:30 – 2:00. Lunch. On MWF, I go to the market to find lunch and haggle with sellers. On Tuesday and Thursday, we all go to the Peace Corps office for an amazing lunch made by local people. I really look forward to lunch on these days.

2:00 – 5:00 More class

After class on Tuesday and Thursday, I am learning how to drum African style (Aaron I hope to play with you when I get back!) About five of us are taking lessons and at the same time five others are learning traditional dancing. It’s an hour I look forward to and I hope to buy a drum to take to site with me in the hope of continuing lessons.

On other days, I often go for a bike ride, swim in a river or just hang out and chat with my host family. I then eat dinner, do homework (I haven’t had this much in ages!) or head down the street to Chez Vikki’s, which is a type of bar.

9:30/10:00 Get some sleep!

Saturdays may involve some class or an outing into the local region. Sunday is family day where I hang out with my family and also do laundry.