Alas, my dear friends, the time has come for me to bid you Adieu!
(god bless you!) No, that wasn't a sneeze, that was French. (oh.
sorry.) Anyway, it's true. The siren song of post-holiday
clearances at JC Penny proved too hard to resist. The seat on Air
France was beckoning, and who was I to refuse its call? I booked it,
and now I'm bookin it. My last order of business in Ouaga before
getting on the plane will be to treat my abused calloused feet to a
pedicure. Tonight at midnight I'll be sipping champagne and watching
Brokeback Mountain 35000 feet above Mali on my way back to
I made it quite a ways, wouldn't you say? A whole year and a half.
Not bad, Philippe, not bad.
Thank you so much to all of you who were generous enough to me send
care packages! (And for those of you who weren't, well, I guess I
forgive you. This time.) You spiced up my life, literally. I wasn't
even able to get through all of the wonderful spices, so I've left
them in my PCV neighbor Imane's equally grateful and loving care.
To all the volunteers, thanks for making it worth it. I love you
Thank you too for those of you who wrote to me to tell me how much
you enjoyed my stories. You're the only reason I kept writing this
shit down! Without your encouragement, I would have never had the
satisfaction of sharing all my most gruesome and painful experiences
with all of you. The promise that you would later live them
vicariously was what got me through some of them in the first place.
Yes, I've been a bit quiet these past few months. Well, I had to
save something for the book, didn't I? Does that make me a greedy
capitalist pig? Well, I gotta feed myself somehow. There will be a
book! If your 3rd cousin twice removed's boyfriend's stepdad is in
publishing, let me know.
But really, my hiatus had less to do with moolah and more to do with
laziness and not having enough hours on the computer to keep typing
it all up.
Frankly, I was also a bit burnt out. I mean, how many times can one
bitch about horrific transport experiences from hell? What's that?
You want more? All right then. Here's one for the road:
I've seen cows loaded on the roof. I've been crammed and smooshed,
sat upon with an old guy's knee in my crotch. As many people on top
as inside. I've seen the van loaded down with so many motos that the
roof buckled and threatened to cave in. Man, I've been through some
shitty ass transport in my day. Whenever you think you've seen it
all, just when you consider yourself seasoned, whenever you think
transport couldn't possibly get any worse... That's when Burkina
The bush taxi heading to Ouaga showed up already packed, with 30-some
goats tied to the roof. So far so good! I was waiting to get on
along with the French and Peruvian ladies who live in Meguet, each of
us with a bike and a pack. I wasn't worried that there wouldn't be
room. There's always room.
The ladies got placed up front (the seat of honor, though I don't
know if you can call it such when you're sharing half the middle seat
jammed between the driver and a large Burkinabé man). I got into the
back, and was mildly surprised that instead of a floor, the van's
bottom was covered in--yes, more goats. So I kicked off my birks and
buried my cracked feet into the warm live goat-fur rug. The problem
with live goat-fur rugs is that they like to nip. Hell, I would too
if I were bound up on the floor while people prodded me with feet as
nasty as mine.
The granny sitting beside me just got a goat-piss shower from the
roof and I caught some of the spray. And, so we go, bouncing merrily
along the dirt road, inhaling dust, listening to the goats' eerie
child-like screams, enjoying occasional golden showers from the goats
up top, resting my feet on the squirming bodies on the bottom, all
while squished between 3 women and a baby. And chickens! I forgot
the chickens! Welcome to the next 4 hours of your life.
The goat on the roof pissed on granny again. And this time it kept
pissing and pissing. There was no room to scoot over, and no way to
close the window since the pane was missing (of course). But not even
the people sitting next to closed windows were spared. Granny saw me
laughing and so she started flinging piss at me, and that's when I
just lost it. The situation was so far beyond annoying, leaping past
pain, bounding past torture, and was just so ridiculous that I
couldn't help but laugh. And laugh hard. I had tears streaming down
my face, and granny and the rest of the 25 passengers were laughing
at me for laughing.
Granny looked to the transport guy and held up her shirt and said,
I'm not paying! Look at me, I'm covered in piss! I'm not paying! I
buried my face and sat there laughing uncontrolably. Granny turned to
me and said, You're going to sit here and I'm going to sit there!
NO! NOOOO way, granny! I don't want to! I don't want to get pissed
on by goats! The transporter turned and asked me, Is there health?
Oh, there's health all right! Nothing but health! Granny over here
might not agree, though!
I talked to my mom on the phone just before I got into this clown
car. She told me, you know, you should be grateful to Peace Corps for
giving you all these experiences. Yeah, yeah, ok mom. No, really!
Even though it may not be working out, Peace Corps has let you have
experiences that you would have otherwise never had. Be grateful.
And now, surrounded by goats and covered in their excrements, I
suppose, in a weird masochistic sort of way, I am grateful for all of
You know, as much as people whine about it, these sorts of things
just don't happen on the Greyhound. Or on Air France, for that
matter. But I'm gonna ask for aisle seats just to be safe.