Thursday, June 24, 2010

Où sont les mangues?! (Where are the mangoes?!)

Ouagadougou (Wa-ga-du-gu) is absolutely gorgeous! Today, some fellow Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs) and I ventured out of our hotel courtyard to experience Ouagadougou for the first time. Our main motivation for our adventure was to learn how to barter by purchasing mangoes. You see, a group ahead of us came back with some of the largest, sweetest mangoes we'd ever seen; the catch was that they paid FAR too much for them.

We decided to use some of our "walk-around money" to see if we could do better. Burkina uses the Central-African Franc (cfa-pronounced "say-fah" ) which exchanges at a rate 500 to each US dollar.  The biggest, sweetest, out of season mango should cost no more than 100cfa--the girls paid about 500cfa each. It's all good though, this is why we have "walk-around money", so we can learn how to bargain,and get the best rate for our dollar--pardon a moi, notre franc. (20USD=10,000 CFA)

 WELL, we ended up going out the hotel, and going the wrong direction, and stumbled upon this really cool garden of sorts. It went on for what seemed like forever, and was full of little growing areas. We never found our mangoes, and decided that the other group must have got them from a street vendor who moved his cart.

Even though we found no mangoes, we are EXTREMELY excited to move to the training location, and meet our host families. I am more motivated than ever to learn Moore (the main language of the Burkinabe) because the girls I am most likely working with generally don't know French. I came into this experience with the idea that I was going to help my girls learn English--turns out, I'll be helping them learn French first. You know what though, this just gives me more motivation to learn/master Moore, and get my French back to where it once was.  

OH! I have found out more about my assignment though. Ok, actually, I haven't; BUT at least I have met my direct supervisor of sorts. She is extremely personable and embodies everything I envisioned of an African woman. She carries herself with such pride, confidence, and humbleness that the word "elegance" cannot even hold a candle to her. She's actually the person who first started the Girls Education and Empowerment (GEE) program here in Burkina. Our interview went well, and I am extremely excited to work with her. (I purposely say with, because she has made it clear that we can only accomplish our goal by working together.) 

Well, I actually need to start getting ready to go to the Country Director's (CD) house for dinner and a reception. 

Tomorrow, we head to the training location, so I don't think I'll be able to get on the internet for a while. I will make sure to take more pictures though and post them as soon as I get a connection fast and strong enough to handle it. 

Till next post, 

Ebben Wiley Bell


  1. Bonne chance mon ami. Je suis sure et certaine que ton experience sera merveilleuse!

  2. omg so exciting!!! i'm so happy you like your supervisor, and i can't wait to hear more about training :) good luck!

  3. wow this is so exciting...makes me want to at least learn french! lol thanks for the pic and i can't wait to hear more about this journey

  4. Hi Ebben! I'm glad to be able to read your blog and I was very glad to have met you in Philadelphia! Hope all is going well with you and the rest of the volunteers in Burkina. Tell Rachel her family said "Hi!" and tell her she should blog too! Take care! Mrs. Carroll