Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Welcomed to Ouaga
On 1 April this little fool pitched up in Ouagadougou, in melting heat – at 3 in the morning, having travelled from London Heathrow via Casablanca. Luckier than my Canadian colleagues who were meant to join me for In Country Training but got stuck for 2 days in Algiers because of a faulty plane and a missed connection.
The first overwhelming thing is the heat. It’s hot, but mostly bearable – there is air con, and a pool to cool down in at the hotel VSO uses for new arrivals, when it’s not full of children having swimming lessons! But a bit of a challenge when the power goes off in the middle of the night. There is a shower with water of a single tepid temperature, heated by the sun I guess, anyway the temperature is quite nice. There are lizards, much bigger than in France - this one is my room mate!
After some sleep, to the VSO office, where everyone seems very welcoming, and I get issued with my first banknote, so I can go out and about and spend, and a local SIM card for phone.
Everyone – including the Canadians over here - is talking French, in very unfamiliar accents. The Africans talk quite fast and with a very strong accent, the Canadians also have strong but different accents. Head spinning, still at the stage where I am having to translate, so permanently half a sentence behind - ok but tiring.
Next day, registered at Consulate – honorary Consul is a Frenchman! – then hard morning's training, learning all about Health in African French and then about Organisational Development in Canadian French. Then to market to look at household supplies, and then supper with the other Ouaga based volunteers, who gathered to meet the newcomers (of whom only I have arrived by this point) and to say farewell to some departees. Got my first cheque today, an advance on my 'pay'... but don't yet have an account to pay it in to!