Created October 30th, posted November 9th, 2010.
"Why can't we have animal stomaches?"
This is the question Ash posed after lunch today while watching our donkey drink dirty water and daydreaming of the ice cold bags of water we aren't supposed to buy because even though they say "pure water" they have a reputation for being bagged tap water. So, her thinking went, if we had donkey stomaches, we'd be able to buy ice cold water in the more than 100 degree heat.
By 'our donkey' we mean the donkey that belongs to our host family. We're in PST (pre-service training) and are staying with a Hausa speaking Nigerian family (not to be confused with a family from Nigeria...). Most days we wake up at or close to 6:12 to the sound of a rooster crowing just outside our hut. Then we lay around for a few minutes and wait for the cries of the baby goats (hilarious!).
We sleep on thick foam mattresses which lay on frames built with twigs link-n-log style. We're in a tiny "yard" - just big enough for our bed - which is enclosed on one side by a thatched hut where we keep our things, and on the other three sides by a 5 foot tall fence of dry reeds. Our door in and out is a reed mat hanging over an opening in the fence and our mosquito net hangs from wire running between the tall branches that are the fence posts.
So we sleep under the net under the stars and listen to all of the crazy noises happening all around us. We already mentioned the rooster (which does NOT just crow at 6:12 and whom we may or may not be plotting to subtly poison) and the goats (okay, just kidding about poisoning the rooster). But there are also radios, donkeys, birds, and bats. Needless to say, sleeping straight through the night is quite the challenge.
But we're in Niger!! It's still not quite setting in that we're in our new home. It is very hot (someone said it was 113 the other day - and this is 'cold' season), and the landscape is harsh; reddish sand all over with sparse trees and wild grasses. We've never seen sunsets like these though... A huge orange ball floating as if propped up on its own heat waves. Slowly lowering itself towards the horizon through the haze. The people are absolutely wonderful, with contagious smiles and laughter.
The poverty and filth are hard to adjust to bit we both enjoyed our first (and second and third...) bucket baths and we agree that we'll get the hang of using the hole-in-the-ground sooner or later.
We have Hausa language classes every day and are actually picking it up pretty quickly considering we've only been here 8 days. We are already capable of greeting people and getting/ giving basic info. We are excited to be learning Hausa as it is spoken in other parts of West Africa as well.
Oh! And our host family has a pregnant cat which we named Mussa (mooooosa), which might or might not be the Hausa word for cat.
Peace Corps gives us 250 cefa (about $.50) each per day for breakfast monies. So we walk onto the main road and choose from mostly fried foods to buy from street vendors. We usually get about 100 cefa worth of masa (basically small millet pancakes), although this morning we finally found a woman selling bananas too. Yay bananas!! We usually eat lunch and dinner (typically rice with veggie sauce) with our host family period.
Well, that's it for now! We love you all and thank you so much! To those who have sent letters (yay mail!!!), they only took 2-3 weeks to get here!