Sunday, November 30, 2008

soccer tourney

The drama club we work with sponsored a soccer tournament over the end of October/beginning of November. Their main theme and objective was to encourage people, especially youth, to register to vote. They focused on this in light of the parliamentary elections that are supposed to take place next month. They wanted people to understand the importance of voting and that if they want change, they need to start by registering. The finale of the tournament was great with a huge turn out. Guineans love their soccer.

This is us with a part of the drama club who were at the final game. The director of the club, Moussa Camara, is standing behind me. The girls are dressed pretty scandelously for Guinean standards, but it was fine since this was an 'event' and they were the 'hostesses.'

This is the pomp before the game of meeting the officials/persons of note in attendance and the ever important picture taking.

On a hike

After being here in our community for over half a year, we realized that we still knew little about it. We always stuck to the same roads and saw the same things. We decided that it would be good to do more exploring on a regular basis. On this particular day, we were trying to find if there was a closer access to the river from our house. We usually go down to the stream behind our house to swim or do laundry, but this day wanted to go to the big river.

We were going to ask a friend to guide us, but decided to make our own discovery. After about an hour and a half of wandering, we finally got to the river, but realize that it was most definitely not the closest access which was our quest that day. It was a great hike though and pretty fun to get away from the city like that. We were exhausted by the time we got home.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all of you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving. We were able to spend it in Conakry with a big group of other volunteers. It was a great day full of friends and far too much food - turkey, pumpkin pie, and just about every other dish one could want - just the way it was meant to be.
I hope you've liked all our new blog entries too. I wrote a bunch over this past month and scheduled them all to post over the last and next week. So be on the lookout for more to come. Hope they don't bore you too much.
The holiday season is a little different on this side of the ocean.... no rushing to the local market for after thanksgiving sales, no Christmas songs and decorations, no change in season or snow... It just feels a little different when you're dripping with sweat as opposed to bundling up in sweaters and scarves. But we're thinking of all of you, our friends and families back home, and wishing you the best for this holiday season. Don't let the stresses of the season get to you. Just remember to be thankful for what you have and those you love.
Happy thanksgiving! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

pumpkin carving guinean style

My favorite part about Halloween is carving pumpkins. I tried to grow some pumpkins for this very reason, but the vines never fruited. Fortunately squash is in abundance this time of year, so I bought one that resembled a pumpkin and went at it. I wanted to carve something more detailed, but the squash was going to be lunch and dinner, so I had to hurry. We turned it into squash soup and pumpkin peanut butter brownies the first day, put it into thai peanut curry and pumpkin pie the next day and still had two big pieces that we gave away to neighbors. It was pretty dang good. The thought of carving it and not eating it would have been a ridiculous waste in this country.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

troubled water

We gave up long ago carrying our own water from the pump. There's only one pump in our neighborhood, but we're lucky enough to live just one compound away. Even so, we pay a student to fetch it for us because we lose enough of our time as is just trying to survive and work here that we don't want to spend more of it waiting in line at the water pump. Besides that, you try pumping water from a foot pump, carrying 20 liters of it about a block and repeat that twice a day, every single day. It was a little easier to buy a 50 gallon barrel and pay someone to come fill it for us every week.

The student we had was gone for summer vacation though, so we had to find an alternate water boy. We ended up asking Fasine, the guard here, to help us until school started again. Unfortunately, some of the water jugs he used to get us water were not really clean. One particular time we ended up with hundreds of tiny little worms in our barrel. The water that comes out of the pump is actually very clean, but when you put clean water into dirty jugs, it kind of defeats the purpose. Anyway, we had the brilliant idea of trying to kill them all by boiling a bunch of kettles of water and pouring it into the barrel. After about 2 we realized how silly it was to try to heat the 50 gallons to any level that would make that kind of difference... So we dumped in a ton of bleach and they were all dead by the next day.

We told Fasine he should try to clean out his water jugs, not just for our sake, but for his family's health. They used the same dirty jugs for all their drinking, cooking, and bathing water. The next time he got our water, it was especially clean. I hope he understands that it's better for him too that way...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

finger lickin good

This was our first attempt at cooking chicken at home. (yeah... we put it off quite a while...) We had Fasine kill it for us while Dan watched and took note so he can do it himself next time. (It's not culturally acceptable for a woman to kill anything... darn.) Then we had one of his wives clean it for us. Here I am with the final product ready for cooking. Oh, how I miss frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts from grocery stores.

We breaded and fried the legs and wings and cut all the meat off the rest of him and made popcorn chicken bites. We had a bottle of KC Masterpiece that we got on sale in Kamsar (such a treat!) and feasted. The process took up a huge part of the day, but it was delicious. Still, I won't mind waiting a while before we attempt it again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

rain rain go away

Rainy season is pretty much over now. We were surprised with the sudden change from wet to dry, having expected a gradual slacking off rather than a sudden break.

Rainy season was nice because it brought much cooler weather. Unfortunately, it also brought a lot of humidity. All the humidity helped bring these mushrooms into our living room. Along with mold. Lots and lots of mold. We were gone for about three weeks in a row during the month of August (peak rainy season) and came back to find everything in our house was covered in mold -- pillows, sheets, clothes, furniture, shoes... everything. It was quite disgusting.

Now we have the dust of dry season to look forward to. At least our laundry dries in a single day in the sun again rather than hanging on a line on our porch for days. Even then, nothing really ever felt dry.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the accidental garden

So, the garden I planted has not been very fruitful. We've gotten a couple handfuls of green beans, cherry tomatoes, basil, dill, and a few pathetic green peppers. The zucchini, squash and pumpkins grew like crazy, but never fruited. There are still some squash vines going strong, but no squash. It's a little disheartening. I intentionally only planted a few plants of each kind of veggie since I didn't know what would be able to survive here, but I was most looking forward to the zucchini and pumpkins. So I was a little sad that none of them bore fruit.

Ironically enough though, I have an amazing accidental garden. Dan and I throw all our kitchen scraps into a compost pile in the corner of the yard. It started as just a shallow hole where we throw all our food trash. It really isn't a good compost pile though, since we don't care for it, turn it, or anything. Things just get thrown in the corner and chickens, dogs, kids, sheep, etc. pick through it and the rest decomposes. Well, it has been my most successful garden spot. All of our mango pits sprouted (there were at least 40 of them... probably more) along with a couple avocado pits, ginger root, tons of tomato seedlings, and a hot pepper plant. I didn't realize that things were growing until I stopped one day to look at it. I transplanted all the tomato seedlings into another bed and thinned the mango and avocado trees to two each. I left the ginger and it's doing awesome. It was after our last trip to Conakry that I noticed the hot pepper plant. I was going to pull it up because I didn't realize what it was, but then noticed the 10 or so peppers hanging from it. I am so impressed, but at the same time a little discouraged that my accidental garden did so much better than my intentional garden.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

50 years of independence

I thought I already posted this, but I guess I never did. Guinea just celebrated 50 years of independence. Here's a couple interesting articles about the history and some of the sentiment around the country today.

BBCs article:

(much shorter version with audio)

a different perspective:

and one about the new corruption ranking: (we're down 5 spots. thats not a good thing, in case you were wondering...)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Needless to say, a white person sticks out like a sore thumb in Guinea, so you can kiss your privacy goodbye. It took a little while, but it's finally gotten to me. Lately, we've had the pleasure of being watched by three neighbor kids. They literally stand at our front door and stare at us.

I guess what is even more strange is that we actually allowed them to do this for a couple of weeks. We thought that they would get sick of watching us do our daily routine, but alas. Finally, we chased them away.

Unfortunately, in allowing these kids to take over our front porch we got all of our basil and cilantro ripped out of our planting box. We got our porch light knocked dead by jump ropes. We got our wall paint scratched off and our wall drawn on by charcoal. The neighbor toddler also relieved himself on the porch several times since they don't have diapers here. Sometimes you wouldn't know if you were walking in water puddle or something else. The screen door also suffered by them hanging on it and "accidentally" pushing it open from time to time. Looking back, it's amazing that we were so tolerant through the whole ordeal.

Adults like to look into our house as well while they pass by. This wouldn't be so bad if we lived in a "quiet neighborhood," but it so happens that we live on public property. We live in front of a public health building, so crowds of people pass our house--especially when there are conferences. Occasionally, strangers come up to our door and ask us health-related questions.
Our life is visible to all those who care to look. So, coming from shut-in America, it's hard living in a fishbowl with very little opportunity to escape. I'm hoping that putting up a bamboo privacy fence will help relieve the stress--we'll see.