Trainings and Tuaregs
Let's see how much time I can spend away from post this month. I have so much going on lately it's crazy. That seems to be how it is in Peace Corps. Sit on my ass for a month and then OMG WTF I have no time to do anything! Kala Suuru.
So last week I left my village three days earlier than planned to go and do a site visit up in Gotheye. Some of their volunteers were out travelling so they didn't have enough to go and help transition all of their newbies. I had nothing better to do so I got tapped to go help. It was actually quite enjoyable to spend a couple days with other volunteers not in the hostel. The difference between volunteer interaction in the bush vs in the hostels is in a word, profound. In the bush we pontificate the many facets of the Peace Corps experience. We contemplate our own spiritual growth and the effect we have in the grand scheme of things. In the hostels we revert to bitter, slightly crazy, often drunken, monkeys. It's not really as severe as that, but it gives you an idea of the incredible span of the schism.
So anyway, I got to spend some time in the bush with Brittany, the new Gotheye volunteer I did live in with. It was refreshing to see the outlook of a new volunteer. And sharing some of my own experiences and wisdom kinda helped me adjust my perspective on the coming year. Though it was somewhat thrilling and unsettling when I would start a story and she would say "oh I remember reading that on your blog." I wonder if this is what celebrity feels like. Either way, she seemed in good spirits and I think we got along quite well. All in all it was the kind of weekend I needed.
After that, all the rest of my stage and I had our Mid-Service Training. We spent three days at Siloe (sp?) a Catholic convent. The food was amazing. I slept in a real bed. With a fan. It was easily the most comfortable 3 days I have spent in country. They fed us chicken legs! LEGS! Actual discrete recognizeable limbs with meat and skin on them! Not just a pounded up pile of meat and bone shards in an equally questionable sauce. Biting into that succulent flesh was like biting into a nugget of heaven. This is what a year in Peace Corps does to your concept of happiness. It turns it into chicken legs.
Oh yeah, we also had some training sessions. Some feel it was one of the most useless three days in their service but I disagree. While many of the sessions were only mildly clarifying at best, being with the other volunteers and sharing successes and failures was quite valuable. I also got some ideas for a project for my second year and hearing other volunteers talk about similar things really boosted my enthusiasm for work. That alone was helpful.
I was supposed to go on Vacation to Agadez this week. It's pretty much the only touristy place in Niger and has most of the significant cultural icons. We were going to take a five day tour that would include Agadez, and oasis, and dunes. But then during MST the Tuaregs decided it would be a good idea to start killing people. They attacked buses north toward Arlit and killed two people. Soldiers also killed five rebels. So while we are still allowed to go to Agadez, we would not be allowed to leave and take our tour. Bollucks!
The girls decided to go to Benin instead. Since we have so much hostel work coming up in preparation for swear in and the barbecue, Jimmie and I opted out. It's almost a relief not to go on vacation just because, due to the timing, I was going to be kind of stressed about all the work coming up and cramming it into just the one or two days before everything gets into full swing. Now I can take my time and get it done right.
Instead, I am going to head up to Gotheye today and check out Kurt's live fencing project. I saw a working garden with live fencing during MST and I am considering do that for the garden project I want to do this coming year. But while a functional live fence is encouraging, it doesn't really give you a good idea of what is involved in starting it. So I'll go check out Kurt's. It'll be kind of like a little mini vacation in a sense too. Should be a nice relaxing time. I'll try and post again when I get back.