laundry

10 11 2008

I just finished my first load of laundry in country and am feeling quite optimistic about life. Laundry here requires one sache of OMO (think African Tide), 2 buckets, and half of the country’s water supply. The entire process seems very inefficient and I’m convinced one of those old steel, accordion wash boards still housed in the Smithsonian would create quite the eureka moment here.  Everything is hand washed and hand-wrung. You have to use close to 15 buckets of fresh water transferring soiled, semi-soiled, and supposedly clean rinsed clothing back and forth between the buckets. Subtract the fact that I only use one bucket of water for my morning AND evening shower and I guess Burkina is still kicking the USs ass in water conservation. Speaking of the US, how absolutely refreshing and inspiring was it be to see those record breaking voting stats? Please let me know, because I’m scared to death I missed that moment of American youth led activism…the one after the yuppies, after the generation-y beavis and buttheads, the one right before the wii kids. Yea, the one most people reading this are probably a part of: the i-poders, the credit-mongers, the whatever else my communication professors wanted to dubbed our consumer based base. How invigorating to have a new, positive American identity. Sorry, I obviously can’t hide my partisanship, but I am so happy to be in Africa at this historic moment where the guy who sells me baguettes actually knows America’s president is black and no longer sees America as this white, expensive, machine. A lot of people in Burkina still don’t get that America is diverse. They still think of countries as racially defined. All of the Asian-Americans volunteering in W. Africa get called “chinois;” you can imagine how hard identity issues could get for African-Americans who volunteer. One of my favorite stagiers so far gets called “ la blanche n’est pas la blanche,”- white girl who isn’t white. It’s hilarious, so long, yet everyone says it. Although, at times, its somewhat nice to be in a culture that has no clue about what is “pc.” For instance, there is a class system in place towards the north. As a form of humor, they actually tell each other, “Hey slave, how’s the family,” Blunt, and limiting, yet in this country discourse still exists unlike the genocides some other African countries are still enabling. Throw some real assets in this country and I’m sure that “how’s the family” morphs into “pump my gas” oftly fast. I’m not advocating non-pc cultures (though I’ve probably spent more time on this one than most 23yr olds). I’m simply commenting that not having to question, “is it…Latin American, Latino, Hispanic American and the numerous connotations each phrase has developed through their progress towards equality…er…identity…ur…whatever is pretty great. I know a lot of the volunteers get sick of hearing ‘Nassara,” “Nasarra,” “Nasarra,” but as someone who has always held cultural sensitivity and cultural pride as totems, equally important but forever conflicting, whewwww is it nice to call a spade a spade. Interestingly enough, the book I’m reading kinda goes along with this whole racial identity limiting/enabling dichotomy that will forever be perplexing and riveting to me: Man in Full. I’m having a hard time putting it down (despite my rapidly approaching French test and gi movements). Yes, yes. I am finally sick. The lab says its an amoeba. My head says its that thing on the 6th grade biology projector…crawling around in serpant like stealth. The good news is its on the way out courtesy of a one-way Pfizer endorsed ticket. Anyone reading should know two things: one) everyone gets sick in Burkina during training two) the medical staff here is fantastic….so informative and attentive. In fact, one of the fellow stagiaries keeps referring to the “WWSD” life mantra. As in What Would Sylvie- our PCMedicalOfficer- Do.  It really is the path to a full, happy stomach. Ok, miss you guys off to dinner…

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2 responses

11 11 2008
Catie

delaide:
I’m dying to hear what the reaction over there was to the election results!? Any heartwarming stories that will make us (finally) proud to be american?

12 11 2008
dana

adelaideeeee i sent you an email regarding the amazing-ness of November 4th here in New York, but i wanted to solidify this moment on your super cool BLOG. haha. The entire city was on the streets, screaming, crying, hugging, singing, laughing, climbing on statues/lamposts, and jumping on cars. It was the single most inspirational event I have ever experienced in the United States EVER and maybe even abroad (although the anti-FARC protest I saw in Columbia was pretty amazing). There is a sense of hope, inspiration, and definitely change in this city. As cliche as that may sound, it really does represent the aura of New York right now. It’s our generations time to kick butt for sure! To be exact its called me and you takin ova the globe baby. So glad to hear that you are having crazy experiences (sorry to hear that youre sick, but it sounds like thats the name of the game in BF). In reference to the racial identity thing you mentioned, very interesting…don’t know how i feel about that. good post- PC convo. you are so cool and smart. love you
dana

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