We promise these posts will come more frequently – we’re just days away from purchasing a car battery so we can charge our computer at home. However, you’re in luck - we’re sure by now the unfaithful followers have given up on us. This leaves a more intimate audience to share all the great stories and details of our lives. So be prepared for things to get a bit more interesting in the next post!!
The past few weeks since our last update have been busy. We’ve been spending as much time as possible in our village getting to know people, learning their needs and desires, and determining potential projects. We’re especially excited to work with the women in Karfiguela as they’ve shown a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and initiative.
Since our arrival in village we’ve wanted a cat both for the furry friendship they provide and to help catch the insects that inevitably find their way into our house. We asked Siaka (James’s counterpart) to help us find a kitten and one night while having tea, he sent his younger brother to fetch it. A few minutes later, his brother rolled up on a bike holding a rice bag, and needless to say, we were a little weary. We returned home and opened the bag to find a rather homely kitten inside. It had a face only a mother could love and looked rather sickly, but we were the proud new parents nonetheless. We named him Bandji (bahn-jee) after the palm wine that many people enjoy in this region. Bandji was scared, but after some powdered milk and cat food (yes, we bought cat food from one of the few places in all of Burkina that sells it) he hid comfortably in a nest we made from a basket and some fabric in our “garage.” The next day during playtime, Julie set Bandji down on our porch and he immediately ran like an escaped convict into the tall weeds. Hours of searching turned up nothing and other than several brief sightings later that day and some “meows” coming from the darkness, we couldn’t find him. While away, Issouf, one of the neighbor kids, found Bandji and placed him back into the holding cell. When we returned, we found a worm-like parasite in Bandji’s paw, so Siaka took him to a vet in Banfora for vaccinations and medication. Upon Bandji’s return, we learned that “he” was actually a “she.” The next several days we played both doctor and prison guard to she-Bandji, going out to the garage either to feed or to medicate. We were used to the game of hide-and-seek that Bandji liked to play during our visits, but this day, she wasn’t in the garage at all. We haven’t seen her since, but can only venture to guess that Bandji found the strength and courage to climb up a pile of wood, squeeze through the partially open window, and leap into the weeds to freedom. We now have another kitten on order, so we’ll let you know how Bandji 2.0 goes.
We’re happy to report that we’ve survived our first scorpion attack! It was a typical evening chez James and Julie, and we had just finished dinner. Julie left the kitchen/sitting room, headlamp in hand, and as she turned down the hall, she saw something scurry away from our bedroom door. On a normal night, catching something scurrying is nothing new. Ants, lizards, spiders, and crickets (and mosquitoes!) are all frequent guests at our house. There was something different about this scurry. Julie noticed the arched tail and announced there was a scorpion in the house. James, being the man he is, yelped and immediately jumped up onto the cot while Julie tracked its path down the hall. The scorpion found itself cornered near the bathroom where Julie covered it with a large salad bowl. Our first goal was to get it out of the house; the second goal was to kill it. Julie slid a thin but sturdy cutting board under the bowl, flipped it over and brought it outside on the patio. James’ brilliant contribution to the effort was the use of Rambo (it’s like Raid in the U.S. but with an awesome name!). James, machete in hand, Rambo’d the scorpion to death. Then in a mix of revenge and celebration, James chopped the scorpion’s tail off with a machete. J&J: 1, Scorpions: 0.
In other wildlife news, as we were biking home the other day, we spotted a snake under the mango tree. This sighting prompted James and Siaka to clear away the 6 to 8 foot tall weeds around the house during which Siaka killed another snake. We saw two more in the several hours following the weed removal, but we’re hopeful that we don’t come across too many more. Most snakes in Burkina aren’t dangerous, but snakebites still hurt!
As you may have viewed in our online photo albums, Julie and I recently visited two volunteers in nearby villages. In Diarabakoko, we helped Leslie with a girls’ camp and got the recipe for an all-natural shea butter mosquito repellent (boil neem leaves, add soap then shea butter; stir often), which we may start making with our women’s groups in Karfiguela.
In Takaledougou, we visited Amanda and the nearby marche for some delicious and hard-to-find cashew butter. Our women’s groups are also interested in drying mangos, and conveniently enough, we able to tour Takaledougou’s small yet impressive mango-drying factory, which exports dried mangos to Europe (and maybe soon to the U.S.!). Even more amazing, the entire facility is run without electricity.
James & Julie