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, novembre 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving (November 23, 2006)

I hope that this weekend of celebration finds everyone enjoying time with the special ones in your life. After teaching this morning, I left for the big city and now I’m in Conakry. Many volunteers throughout Guinée have gathered in Conakry or one of the three regional houses for the weekend. When living in a state of semi-isolation, volunteers quickly become family for each of us.

The past month has felt a little long and it seems as if quite a bit has happened. I continue to learn the “ins-and-outs” of my village while trying to develop some sort of rhythm at school. My classes are off to a bumpy start. The numbers of students continue to fluctuate. If a student of the 8th grade level shows up (and there have been quite a few late starters), they get crammed into one of my classes. My current counts of students for the three classes are 98, 85 and 101. Some days I think other kids just wander in and sit through the class. With that many kids packed into a small space I can’t tell if the students in class are the ones that are supposed to be there or students from other classes. I can associate some names with faces but it is a minority.

Names. There is not much variation. I remember last year having an Abby and an Abbie in my class. At times, there was confusion as to who was being called upon, but at least their last names were different. Now, in my three classes of almost three hundred students, I have a pool of less than 20 first names and 15 last names to choose from. In some situations, the first and last names are the same so Roman numerals are assigned. For example: Ousmane I Bangoura, Ousmane II Bangoura, and Ousmane III Bangoura are in one of my classes. In other situations, the village that the student comes from or the last name of their mother is inserted as a middle name. 30% of the last names in my class are “Bangoura” with another 25% being “Camara”.

Seasonally, my mind wants to be with everyone enjoying crisp, cool days and thoughts of snowboarding season fill my daydreams. Am I even missing the beginning of the Portland rainy season? In Guinée, the rains have almost all finished and the days are mostly full of sunshine. I remember commenting to a friend during training that there was not much color – everything was green. Now that the rains have stopped, I’m amazed each day by new displays of colors. Flowers are blooming everywhere. At a time that I usually associate with dormancy and contemplation, things are springing to life. At the same time, leaves are falling from trees since the days have become shorter. I guess it’s easier to explain that trees lose their leaves with less light when the overall climate does not change.

I guess this does it for the month. I have written up a few of the happenings over the month below. Again, please excuse the hastily written accounts as I don’t have much time to read over things due to the infrequency of electricity. Take care and my thoughts are with you all during this holiday season.