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

jeudi, octobre 19, 2006

Almost a month at Site (October 20, 2006)

Almost four weeks ago, I was dropped off at my house in Wonkifong by the Peace Corps truck. Fortunately for everyone in my stage, the PC administration decided that it makes a good appearance for volunteers to “officially” arrive in their villages with PC transportation. In the past, volunteers have had to move to site using taxis as transportation. In addition to losing the feeling of an official arrival, it was hard for them to pack all of their belongings into a taxi. As I arrived, a delegation of important people in the village came to welcome me and say hello to the four other volunteers in the truck. My belongings and bike were quickly unpacked from the truck and my friends all climbed back in to take off for their sites.

This was the point that I had been thinking of since accepting my position to join Peace Corps Guinea. My link to people that I know was just about to drive off and leave me in a village where I knew no one. Would people be able to speak French to me or would I flounder with my minimal local language (Susu) abilities?

Just as the truck is getting ready to pull out, Geoffrey (another volunteer) sticks his head out of the window and with his amazing laugh and grin says, “It’s OK. You can freak out now.”

For whatever reason, I managed to avoid freaking out and got myself installed in my house. Since then, things have been going well. School started only one week behind schedule and I have been teaching for two weeks. I am slowly getting to know people in the community. Unfortunately, all of the other teachers at my school live in Coyah which is a small city about 7 km from my village. As a result, I don’t have colleagues to help me integrate into my community but the people of Wonkifong have been extremely nice.

Today, I am at the Peace Corps house in Conakry. Once a month, volunteers are allowed to travel to their regional capitol and mine happens to be here. Thanks to everyone who has trusted in world mail delivery systems. I arrived to find a large pile of letters that I immediately began reading. Thanks again! I have posted some new entries. Please let me know if you have any questions about life over here. It is interesting how quickly things become “normal”. I sit almost daily with a neighbor and it is fun to have her ask “do you have this in America” for things ranging from types of food to articles of clothing. I hope everyone is doing well!