Monday, December 7, 2009

Some bits from my first weeks in Niger

Ignore the date that it says above---I'm updating this from the hotel in Paris and just putting in little bits from my journal over the past 6 weeks. I'll put the date above the entry when I wrote it, and try to figure out a better system later!

October 24th, Saturday

There are so many noises, new ones. It's like passing through an unknown village in Mexico on my bike trip. All this activity happening that you can only imagine. Soon enough I will be part of it all. Starting from zero with the language (Hausa) is difficult; it's like when I was in Guatemala and my family would be speaking Kakci'kil and I'd just be sitting there smiling, playing with a kitten or a child. There is a comfort to the voice of an old woman.

October 25th, Sunday

Our first day spent with our host family. I am roommates with Nikki, aka Hadiza. The grandmother in our family gave us Nigerien names, mine is Aisha, or Aishatu, though there was quite some confusion on that matter for a while, during which time we thought that Aishatu meant "Hey you!" or "Look here!"

We walked to the seasonal lake on the edge of the village. There were green and blue birds with long tails, and white birds in a flock. It was a moment at which I suddenly had this wave of feeling that I am in Africa. It is a place different from anywhere else that I have been.

Our house is a round mud hut with a thatch roof right in the middle of the family's house, a concession made of a mud brick wall and several small houses for each part of the family. The family is big, lots of kids, adults, I don't know who belongs to who yet, and it doesn't seem to matter. We have our own latrine and bathing area, a bucket for our bath water, a stool to sit on while bathing, cups to pour water over ourselves. Mostly I feel very comfortable and easy here. We are so much taken care of, no thinking about our food, our schedule, even our laundry...I feel too priveledged. I keep thinking that so much will hit me when I finally get to my post. Training is a good, but strange, lifestyle.

Our little host brother told me today about learning Hausa "if you can catch it in your head, it's not difficult!" I'm trying to keep my mind open like a net, ready to catch it all, but it seems to take me a bit more work than that!!

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