Monday, April 2, 2012

Trent sees hippos... and freaks out.

Wow! It has been a while since I have updated people, so allow me to share some of my stories. March was a busy month; but I am going to talk about my vacation and COS (Close of service) conference.

I met up with Diana Williams on Weds to take the long trek to Banfora. Our journey consisted of leaving Ouagadougou at 10:30. We arrived at the bus station at 9:30 and were shocked to find that Rehemo has ticket machines and wi-fi in the bus station. I had no clue what country I was in. So we get loaded on the bus and our journey started. We stopped in Boromo at about 1:30 and that bus station was ridiculous. I got attacked by women all trying to sell me sesame. I did buy my first packet of village bread though, and it was delicious. We get back on the road and end up at Bobo about 15:30 (I decided I am using military time in the states; get over it). We walk to the corner and some guys in a bush taxi pick us up and we are on the way to Banfora. On the way to Banfora, our tire blows out and we get stuck by the side of the road for an hour. We get the tire fixed and finally make it to Banfora by 18:00.

Now, I think I have a nice house in Kaya, but Jenn's house makes my house look like a shack. She has a toilet!!! I know, I am easily impressed. It was a wonderful place to stay; minus the humidity. It gets hot in Kaya, but it dries very quickly. You just sweat a lot in the south and stay sticky. Not my favorite thing in the world.

So on Thursday, we lay around Banfora and don't really do much. We visit a hotel that makes its own delicious rum (which we try) and prepare a car to take us to see the hippos, the domes, and the waterfalls.

The next day, we leave Banfora to go to Tangrala at 6:30. We get there before the park is even open and we get a guy to sneak us in and take us out to see the hippos. The boat we get in is an old rickety rowboat. We cannot move too much or we will capsize. I was fine with this, because the water was not deep. We start on our way to see the hippos and we pass tons of pretty water lilies. Then, we get near the hippos. I see the hippos from far off and think, "wow, those are bigger than I thought." We continue to get nearer to the hippos and I just keep thinking, I don't like this. Finally, he pulls the boat about 20-30 yards from the hippos and I start freaking out. I realize at this point, if the hippos go crazy, I am dead. We would have to run in water to shore. I am also in an old boat that will capsize if I stand up. The guy starts to move closer and I turn around and tell him to stop and he laughs. I tell him to take us away NOW, and he laughs at me and shows me the water is not deep. He doesn't understand that I am not afraid of the 4 feet of water, I am afraid of the 500lb circle of hippos 20 yards away. He starts to move us closer and I turn around and tell him I am going to hit him if he doesn't stop. At this point, I am in a near panic and have both hands grabbing onto the wooden board I am sitting on for dear life. Jenn and Diana are just looking at me like I am crazy; but trying to also be supportive. Finally, we leave and when we get back to shore, I am fine. This is one of those things that I am glad that I did, but will never do again.

After that, we got in a taxi and went to see the domes. The domes are these rock formations that you can climb and are really pretty because they used to be underwater. When it comes to natural wonders, I really don't care. I think they are wonderful; but:
1. I like nature; but I don't really like being in it.
2. I am more interested in people and culture

So, we climbed up the domes and I ripped a huge hole in the crotch of my pants, which made for a nice breeze. We looked around for about 15 minutes and decided we should take some more time to enjoy the view and waited around another 10 minutes; got bored and left.

Finally, on our last pit stop we went to the cascades. These are basically some natural waterfalls in Banfora area. They were nice and we were able to take some great pictures; but again, not my cup of tea. We were able to see another volunteer named James though and see a hotel/restaurant he was helping to build. That was nice.

We got back in Banfora and spent the rest of time relaxing in Jenn's house and preparing for our trip back to Ouaga. We left Banfora Sat at about 14:00 and got to the Bobo office at 16:00. It was funny, because there was a huge craft fair going on in Bobo and none of the volunteers had a place to stay, so we found a restaurant that had an extra room and we slept 5 volunteers in it. I slept wonderfully; but apparently the others did not. I think a mattress on the floor is great though.

We left Bobo at 730 in the morning and made our way back to Ouaga and to the Hotel Excellence and started our COS conference.

The COS conference was hosted by Eli and she supplied us with tons of information about getting a job when you come back to the United States. Not only that, but she helped us with our resumes and gave us her email and told us we could email her with any questions that we had. It was the best conference in all of my Peace Corps service. I wish that it could have gone on longer. There were tons of information and very little time. I am not going to go into the details of the conference; but it was informational.

After the conference, I had two days to fill until the COS party; so I went back to site and had Shannon W and Jenn come and visit me. It was fun and we really didn't do much besides shop or as people here have been saying, retail therapy. I didn't buy anything, but it was still fun.

We went back to Ouaga on Saturday and had ourselves a wonderful party filled with ridiculous outfits and good food (Mexican). I am now back at site and am starting to think about the future and the stuff that I need to get done here before I leave and the stuff I need to prepare for in the states. If you see any good job openings that need someone to start around Sept 1st. Keep me in mind. ;)

My official COS date is Aug 8th. I should be back in Indiana Aug 10th. See you guys sooner than you think.


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