mercredi 28 mai 2008

Either Kill Me or Come Get Me

Here is a health update for all of you who are concerned about me and my horrid kidney stone.

The Sunday evening before last I passed a kidney stone . . . that is to say I gave birth to a rock. I have been told that the pain is worse than child birth and I can see how that would be. It hurt. A lot. About 5pm after chugging halk a liter of water i got huge cramping in my abdomen and left side and, being the science nerd that I am, knew exactly what it was. "Oh GOD! Not a kidney stone!! Please GID don't make me pass a kidney stone alone in my hut! Please Please Please!!!" Well, GOD did not answer that particular prayer and that's okay - no hard feelings. By 5:30pm the pain was bad enough that i was onlyhalf conscious. Also, my phone wasn't working - i couldn't call people and they couldn't call me. Just text messages. So i sent this message to our PC doctor: "kidney stone. please help." A few hours went by and the doctor hadn't contacted me (i didnt know my phone wasnt working) and so I sent this message: "come get me or kill me. i cant get up" and about 15 minuted later my homologue (a colleague who helps me out integrating in my village etc...) came over and i talked to the PC doctor on his phone. Then Nikiema (my homologue) went in search of drugs. Glorious glorious drugs. About an hour later he came back with the doctor in charge of the clinic in my village and they gave me the most refreshing IV injection i have ever had! Twenty minutes after the injection and 4 hours after the pain began I was doing okay - no longer screaming, thrashing, or pulling out my hair etc - there was pain but it wasn't nearly as bad. Eventually I passed out and woke up stone free!

My whole village thought I was dying and everyone has an opinion as to why I got sick:

"You shouldn't live with your cat like that! You can't touch it!"

"You eat out too much!"

"It's your water! There is too much calcium in the water!"

The PC doctors agree with the latter (my homologues opinion) and I will probably have to take some meds to help my kidneys out. But I should be fine! No worries everybody. The thing about kidney stones is that once you pass them - it's done. The pain is gone. Anything is better than Malaria!

Hope you are all doing well and I CANNOT wait to see all of you when I come home in July!

dimanche 11 mai 2008

Je suis plein!

This is a blog post for any of you out there who have been through the ridiculous and confusing task of learning a new language. French is especially interesting, i feel, because english vocab is 60% french. So there are a lot of words that are the same but pronounced differently. Take the word "different," in french it is "different" or "sensation" which is "sensation" in french. Actually, pretty much any word that ends in -tion in english is probably the same in french. Same with words that end in -ive in englsih are probably the same in french only with a -if at the end. However, sometimes I find myself trying to talk with somebody and I will need a word . . . "Oh what's the word?? what's the word?? comment on dit???" My mind searches and searches and comes up with nothing. SO, I just take the word in english and pronounce it in french. This often works. Like . . . "distruction." But sometimes it doesn't. Like the english word "partition" you would think that you could just pronounce the same letters but in a french accent . . . think again! "Partition" is a musical score in french . . . the word I needed was "cloisin." Argh! It's so frustrating to always sound like an idiot.

Pronunciation is always fun but even more tricky is trying to figure out if something in english translates into french. For example . . . if you want to tell the restaurant guy that you want to take your grilled chicken "to go" you have to think . . . "hmm . . . i wonder if that translates . . . i'll try it." and you say in french "pour sortir" and voila! he understood you. However, sometimes you want to tell people that you are excited about the upcoming marriage of your neighbor and so you think "surely 'excited' translates!" so you say "Je suis tres excite pour vous!" Well, what you think is "I am very excited for you" actually translates into "I am very horny for you!" and now you have offended some people. The same goes for the french word for "full" or "plein" but when you have eaten a lot of food and you want to tell your hosts that you can't eat anymore goat testicle - that you are full - you cannot say "Je suis plein" because that means that you are pregnant and then they will probably just want to feed you more.

My other favorite activity is circumlocuting a word you don't know. I can never remember the word for speakers so I am always saying "You know . . . the thing that you attach an mp3 player to and sound comes out . . . what do you call that?" Like the other day I wanted to use the expression "Wolf in sheeps clothing" but couldn't remember the word for wolf or coat (not that they would understand it because there aren't wolfs here) so I ended up saying this "You know the savage dog who wears the hair of the sheep and he is not nice like the sheep and he eats of the sheep but it is hidden because he wears of the sheep hair like the other sheep" Good GOD these people must think I am an idiot.

That is just a sample. You people who have learned another language know what I'm talking about. It is a bumpy bumpy road. Hmm . . . I wonder if that translates . . . le chemin est . . .

samedi 10 mai 2008

Long Time No See

Hello friends. I have not blogged in a really long time and i beg your forgiveness. i am not dead or sick or sad. I just haven't had anything interesting to say! I am approaching a year in Burkina and miraculously, this is becoming "old hat." Having said that, I hope that I have used that expression correctly. Recently the fine lines between French and English have become blurred and the first thing to go was my ability to navigate idioms and english is FULL of idioms. The Americans I interact with regularly speak the same language i do - franglais - and so any language fumbles are rarely noticed. I was speaking with my lovely sister M0lly the other day and we were talking about her rehearsal dinner and, in wishing to express my excitement, i said, "Oh! I will be at the top of the page!" There was a confused silence on the other end of the phone and it occured to me that what I just said may not be an english "ism" afterall. "Wait . . . what does that mean?" Molly politely asked and . . . i had no idea what it meant or where I came up with it. Top of the page? It's not even a translated french idiom. So excuse me when I say weird things. I know not what I do.

How have I been keeping myself occupied lately you ask?? Well, I have been teaching Sex Ed. That's right. Sex Ed. In Africa. In french. Actually the french makes it easier because I don't react when i say things like "muqueuse uterine." Pleasant. I had to draw lots of diagrams of the reproductive organs on the board for the students . . . in colored chalk. Corpus cavernosum in purple. Oviduct in green. It was a good time. They had many many mis-understandings about the origins of pregnancy which I was very sad about because they tend to become sexually active at young ages here. "Madame, is it true that if you only have sex during the day you won't get pregnant?" "Um . . . no. That is NOT true. The time of day has nothing to do with it." We talked about STD's and condom use. Family Planning and the menstrual cyle. There are several illigitamately pregnant girls at my high school and I really feel strongly about teaching sex ed. I must admit though, and its difficult to admit this to myself, but I fear that it all went in one ear and out the other and then when it comes down to it they will side with their traditional beliefs. Argh! This is development. You battle mind-sets and points of view and its a lot of work for not a lot of gain. You can give a day-long sensibilisation about the evils of female circumcision (which is illegal and yet still rampant in Burkina) and then have someone approach you and say "Sorry I can't meet your for tea tomorrow. My daughter is getting circumsized." Wait . . . what?

On a lighter note. There has been an addition to the fam in Tougs. Eloise had a baby! Just one. Clay calls Eloise "Louis" and started calling the kitten "Clark" which he is allowed to do because it will be his cat. So Clark currently lives under my bed and makes a lot of cute noise. My camera is broken so I don't have a picture but she is all white except for her tail which is black and gray stripes like Eloise.

It is very hot. Never below 90. Not even at night. I sleep outside and it's annoying because the mosquito net blocks the breeze and the animals make lots of noise and wake me up at 4:30 am.

I am approaching a year! And about to have a birthday! The novelty of living in Africa is wearing off. It's becoming "My life" and not "My life in Africa." Things that were crazy to me a year ago have become normal and uninteresting. Holding someone's chicken while they get on the bus . . . ladies on bikes with a baby strapped to their back and a huge bowl on their head . . . the food . . . warm beer . . . these things are just kinda normal. Wh0 new you could get used to a life in Africa?? Of course there are still some surprises. Here's a good story for y'all: This didn't happen to me but it could have because it happened on the bus I take for transport to the capitol. An old Fulani woman (the Fulani are a really marginalized ethnic group here - they are truly villagois) stood up out of her seat on the bus and placed a kalbash (a bowl made of a gourd) on the floor of the bus and squated over it and actually peed right there on the bus and tossed it out the window!!!!! Hahaha!!!

What's next you say?? June is taken up by my lovely friend Mary Elizabeth who is coming to BF for the whole month!! yay! I hope she has fun. Then in July I have Molly's and Jackie's weddings and AMERICA!! Also, in July and into August I am helping to train the new group of teachers who will be arriving in June. Nana and I are taking a trip in September! And then the school year starts again in October. I am spoiled. But I dont mind.