Merry Christmas

Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Flag of Guinea  ,
Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!! We all got to come to Cankry for the holiday. It's nice to get away and be with people who understand how important Christmas is and how hard it is to be away from home on Christmas. I spent the day in the pool at the country director's house and then on the beach. But we aren't allowe din the water because we might contract flesh-eating bacteria.
But I'm sure what you really want to know is how I've spent my last 2 weeks. I live with a very large Muslim family. Father, grandmother, uncle, 2 wives and at least 10 children. Thie family tree is figured differently so it is hard to keep everyone straight. I have my own room with a walled off portion that is my pit latrine/shower. My room is right off the salon where I eat and at night the father eats there as well. The rest of the family eats outside where the kitchen (a little hut with a fire pit) is.  My father speaks the best French whereas the kids and wives speak a mixture of French and Susu, making communication difficult and frustrating at times.  For example, for 10 consecutive nights I have had rice with spicy fish sauce. Every night it is too spicy. I can only eat about 2 bites before my mouth is on fire and I just can't stomach anymore. I've tried various tactics to say this is too spicy. I say "This is too spicy" in Frnech, "This has too many peppers.", "My mouth is on fire" to crinkling my nose with every bite, fanning my mouth and finally it was so hot one day my eyes watered and my nose ran. But everyday still the same. So its either lack of communication or they just like to see the fote (white person) squirm.
Branching out, training has kept me very busy. We have class from 8-5. We have sessions in language, technical training, cross-cultural training and medical training (for our own benefit). Monday, Wednesday and Friday we're on our own for lunch.  I've become pretty creative as there is not a huge selection of food and a restaurant means a bench on the side of the road and digging rice out of a communal bowl. I avoid that.  I think my favorite invention so far is my Egg McMuffin. Close to the Peace Corps Office is a vendor who will fry some eggs and onions in oil for a reasonable price.  Then I take a bagette, spread Laughing Cow cheese (which is the only cheese they have here) and put the egg and onion on that. Yum, yum.  I also made a cheese steak sandwhich in the market the other day.  The meat here is iffy and that certain day it wasn't the best.  Last Saurday I made pancakes which were amazing!!
In addition to eating I try to stay as active as possible.  Sometimes after school I play volleyball with a local girls team and on Saturday and Sunday we play soccer.  It's hot and disgusting but so much fun and a cold bucket bath feels amazing afterwards.
Another amazing thing is Coke, cold Coke. Cold anything is amazing here but Coke especially. It's made with real sugar and its a taste of home.  It's not foreign and just to stay sane I need something like that.
To sum it up, life here is hard.  It's hard for my skin (sun, sunscreen, bug spray, bug bites, sweat, dirt) it's hard on my taste buds, it's hard on my muscules (the 3 hours it took me to wash my clothes on a washboard left me very sore) and it's hard on my brain.  Trying to speak another language all the time really gives me a headache. But I wouldn't trade this for anything. This is exactly what I want. I love life here and I love Guinea!
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