I am finally back at Tubaniso training site after almost three weeks at homestay! This is apparently the longest period of time any stage has spent at homestay. We're breaking records!
My homestay family is great! My father is a tailor, teaches the original Malinke language and is on the radio twice a week. Luckily, he can speak French, so we are able to communicate and have very interesting converstations about life in America. I have explained everything from cancer to cuisine so far. My family also includes two wives who collectively have seven children whose ages range from 23 years to 10 months old. This is the first time this family has hosted a Peace Corps Trainee, but so far everything has been going great! I have adopted a Malian name and now go by Sira Camara. I was named after my host fathers paternal grandmother.
In my concession, in lieu of electricity and running water, we have a donkey and chickens roaming around, 4 huge mango trees, and a well from which I get my water to bathe with everyday. I have my own room which I call an oven because the tin roof heats it during the day and makes it a hot box. Speaking of weather, I think that I am acclimatizing pretty nicely. It is the hottest around 1-3 pm, but lately there have been some pretty wicked thunderstorms that roll through and cool everything down. The first storm I experienced happened during lunch time and was terrifying. First, the dust, sand and wind blew through, and I was sent to seek refuge in my room. Then came the buckets of rain and wind. The storm was so powerful that all the mangoes were falling off of the trees and pounding my tin roof. I thought it was the end of me! These storms are becoming more frequent and have even caused some of my language classes to be cancelled.
My day consists of waking up anywhere from 5:30-6:30 am due to either the crow of a rooster or the early morning pounding of millet. After I take a bucket bath and get ready, I greet my host father and the rest of my family and then eat breakfast with my 13 year old sister. I share all of my meals with her communal style (out of the same bowl eating with my right hand). After breakfast, I go to school from 8-12 to learn to speak Malinke. I return home to eat lunch and then am back at school from 2:30-5. After class, me and the other trainees who stay in B Camp usually either go for a bike ride, go rock climbing, or play BananaGrams until dark when we all return to our homes. I usually bucket bath again, because if I don't my family thinks I am dirty (which most of the time I am from sweating and trekking through the muddy streets of B-Camp) and will insist until I give in. After that, I hang out with my family, play with the kids a little, eat dinner and then usually go to bed around 9pm. Some days, instead of language classes, all three homestay sites congregate for technical trainings. Those days are such a treat, because after only a week and a half we all got really close and being separated is a bummer. However, I am loving my B-Camp group. We have all gotten exponentially closer and have become somewhat of an exclusive group haha!
Being in B Camp is not as bad as the Volunteer trainers warned us it would be. We at B-Camp actually prefer it to the other homestay villages we have seen. Yes, there are trash piles everywhere. Yes, there is negen water running in the streets. Yes, there are donkeys, chickens, and goats roaming the dirt roads. Yes, there are children yelling Toubabou (white person) and Y togo?(what's your name?) wherever you go. However, B Camp, in my opinion, has a certain charm to it, and I can't imagine being anywhere else! After being there for only 3 weeks, I know a lot of the community, and they know me. Wherever, we go I will almost always here someone call out "Sira Camara!" Just yesterday, before leaving to come to Tso, I went to the sugu (market) with my sister to set up our stall and sell tika dege (peanut butter) and macaroni (self-explanatory). I was such an awesome and fun experience. Everyone came up to us and greeted me and were really friendly!
I feel really lucky to feel this positive and happy about my experience so far. Others have not had it as good, and we even had someone from our group E.T (early terminate). We miss him dearly, and I hope that we don't lose anyone else.
Peace and Love to all!