Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yesterday's fine company

Water harvesting near Illela, Niger; photo courtesy of FAO
March 19, 2008
It is just after sunset on the evening of my first full day in my village as a legitimate PCV. I will try to tell you everything, so that if you have a dream about this place, it will be accurate! Yesterday morning we loaded up the Land Rover with my stuff: a big backpack full of clothes, a duffel bag full of books, one bucket with miscellaneous doodads like string and nails, one bucket with vegetables I bought at the market, one box full of foodstuffs from a "fancy" store, and one small backpack with my more precious and sentimental items--letters and photos from home, my mermaid doll, and my sock monkey, Geronimo. This is everything I have!
Then we drove north to the town of Illela; it's just a larger village and it has electricity but no pavement, just sand. There we fulfilled protocol by visiting half a dozen officials, both municipal and traditional ones. By "we" I mean:
1. Me
2. John, a fellow new PCV who is my second-closest neighbor, about 15K away.
3. Haoua Grande, a dynamic, expressive, hilarious, completely delightful woman who is an agriculture trainer for PC. She is Nigerien and jokes that she'll never marry because she is too rude to men; but really she's not rude at all, just awesome.
4. Moussa, who is also a godsend; he is the PC driver for the Konni region. He knows all of our villages, coordinates with them, and takes care of everything we could possibly need. He speaks Hausa and French, and I think he understands a lot of English, but he rarely breaks it out except for an occasional, wildly popular "talk to the hand!"
5. Suzannah, the PCV whose current job is to keep everything running administratively and logistically. She is so on top of it, way more patient and organized than I think I have ever aspired to be. She is, also, terrific.
I should add that John, my neighbor, is ALSO lovely, stable, and a great dancer. So, happy me, I am in fine company.

1 comment:

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