Well, I've survived training. It has been two months of gruelling language and culture classes with a skosh of agriculture thrown in. I've been amazed at how fast one can learn a language when it's all you speak! It's been a lot of fun though. I've made a lot of friends, we started with 27 people and are down to 22 now. The only real problem I may have here is the hot dry climate. So far all but my feet have adjusted well, and they like to dry out and crack every summer anyway. I'll be swearing in tonight, then a big shindig.
On tuesday I'll move out to my new village, HollaBella. It's a Bella village (Bellas are black tuaregs that used to be slaves to the white tuaregs, but are now free). I really like it. I've got a nice big concession with a large tree, so there is shade :-). My house is a round mud hut with a grass roof, it's probably 14-16' in diameter. The bathroom is a hole in the ground surounded by grass mats. I bath from a bucket, which is actually quite nice. I have a gas stove to cook on, as well as an outdoor fire stove thing made of mud and a pot. I have a cat that the previous volunteer left me, it has a very small kitten. I also have a donkey she gave me (she's really awesome). I think I'm fixing to buy a camel as well, which will give me something to talk about with the guys in the village.
Food is actually very easy to get used to for the most part. Most dishes are very starch heavy, and light on the meat, if it's there at all. Rice and Millet are the staples, usually accompanied by some sort of sauce. Everything gets pounded into sauce here, I think they just like to pound things. The most interesting is Lafoy, or okra sauce. It has a nice flavor and the consistency of snot. After you get used to that it's all great.
The people here are extremely friendly and generous, but they do like to ask for things all the time... "I like that" and "I want that" are the same phrase, "Ay ga ba wone." They are also obsessed with marriage, they joke about it and constantly ask why you're not married and if you'd like to marry them. It will be at least a month before I get back in to post a blog entry, but I will be getting mail every week, so feel free to send me a letter. The address from before will always work, but this new one will be faster.
Jimmie Klein, PCV
Corps de la Paix
Niger, West Africa
I look forward to hearing from you all, and will try to be good about responding, but be patient, postage is expensive here.