Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mbakaou: First Thoughts - Part I

Well, what do I think of the place?  Been here slightly over two weeks and I can tell you it has flown by.  I'm ever so slightly feeling settled in.  A lot faster than in Bogo I might add.  Part of that has to do with my French level, part of it has to do with the fact that I have a decent idea what I'm looking for when it comes to work and people, and the major part is all luck.  I'm pretty comfortable with luck; it's gotten me this far in life.

Today we'll start with the home.  It's a good home.  I'd like to say solid, but it's sort of made out of mud.  Not like a mud hut with thatch roof you'd see on TV, but it ain't concrete.  More like some mud brick sort of situation.  It sort of crumbles when I put nails in it.  The nails stay though, so I can't complain too much and all the houses are made of it.  It's not the prettiest material to work with, but it seems strong enough.  Plus mine is painted blue and pink, so that's adorable.

It's big too.  I've a large living room, two bedrooms, kitchen, and latrine.  That's a solid size for a Peace Corps house.  Boss Tony was living in a tiny ass room with tons of other folks a wall away in Nicaragua.  Let's see.  Some of the ceilings are made of wrapping paper and above that is a tin roof that is deafening in the rain.  Course, my roof in Bogo was tin too; I just never heard the rain.  I've electricity and already a bit of furniture.  I'd take this house over Bogo's except for one thing: I live on a compound with a family.  That sort of cuts down on the privacy that I had grown accustom to.  In Bogo, I was sleeping in my yard under the stars (mostly because of the heat, but it was pretty fucking awesome).  Here if I open my door, I'm greeted by one of a ten person family.

That's right, ten other people live on my compound.  My landlord lives here with his two wives and seven children.  The two smallest are afraid of me, which I likely don't diminish as all I really know how to say in Fulfulde is "I am going to eat you".  Oh, you should see them run in fear.  Right, anyway.  Two of the boys like to come inside and stare at me or whatever I'm doing.  The older one is so quiet it hurts and is kinda creepy.  Course the youngest won't shut up babbling in whatever god-awful language he speaks.  Everyone finds it hilarious when I pick him up and put him down outside saying that I think he's broken.  All in all, I suppose they are about as nice family as anyone could ask for.  The dad person has worked with Americans before and had them stay with him in this very house.  He understand the linguistic and cultural barriers and seems super accommodating.  Any Peace Corps Volunteer can tell you how much of a lifesaver someone like that can be.

If I had one real complaint about the family, it would have to be that they feed me constantly.  You know how old English films and books always have young batchers living with some nice old lady who brings food on platters and serves them tea as they work?  It's exactly like that.  Which would be awesome… except I WILL die if I eat any more goddamn cous-cous and fish.  Fish for breakfast?  WTF?  For those of you not in the know, cous-cous is not the light whatever shit from the middle east.  No, here it is a blob of mashed grain product.  Corn, millet, or manioc ground and mashed into a big ball of meh.  It's not bad so to say--it really has little taste and is mostly about the sauce--it just sits in your gut like a rock.  And basically the fish is just cooked in oil.  I've had some success by buying random products and giving it to them.  Fruits and veggies; I bought rice to some success.  It's the fish I can't get rid of.  Fucking fish.

Sometimes just looking at it makes me want to vomit.