We’re four to room. Keriah, Katie, Helen, and I. I’m in a bed, all hard foam and springs under my spine, shrouded in a gentle cloud of mosquito netting.
And the rain, the pouring, torrential rain outside that started so suddenly. Cool air circling through our room, lifting up our pagne curtains.
We all ran outside when it started and stuck our arms out past the porch to catch the cold rain on our arms, welcoming the cool respite after warm day. Feet slipping on the wet concrete and slick silt between my toes. Throwing our heads back, laughing in pure joy as rainwater soaked into our skin. I’ve been told it’s good luck when it rains on your arrival.
I’m very happy to be here right now. That’s all I can ask for.
When we exited the airport in Ouaga, a wave of heat enveloped me like an old friend. Not the oppressive wet heat of Taipei, but something gentler, more welcoming.
There are mango trees everywhere on our compound, heavy branches laden with fragrant yellow, orange, green jewels. Lizards that are shades of orange and sand and steel skitter around everywhere. There have been plastic bags with water, mosquito bites swelling up to big pale pink welts on my arms, a ladder of scars framing Laurentine’s face, curls of silver piling up beneath the sound of hair scissors.
And then there are the rains. It always starts with deep rumbling warnings in the distance and the skies darkening. Then, whipping dust-filled winds that make the trees sing, right before thick cords of rain fall from the bruise colored skies and the air cools. The world illuminated for milliseconds at a time with blinding bluewhite light.
I’m finally returning to French after five weeks away. I’ve missed this side of me so much. The French speakers have lessons in Mooré, a local language. I love feeling my lips curl uncomfortably around this new language that sounds nothing like any that I’ve studied before.
The other trainees are revealing themselves as the days unfold, unexpected blossoms gently unfurling forth from our chests. Two years in China, a three week walking trip through Iceland, a former career as an opera singer, a radio enthusiast, ten years in Italy and Greece, currently still in classes in Germany, a videographer, a childhood spent on a chicken farmette. Endless stories that are starting to slowly emerge.
What we do all share is that everyone is just as lost, if not more, than I am and I feel so much like how the NSLI-Y group was in Tajikistan. There are so many aspects of this experience that are identical.
Rachel and Danielle were talking about how they felt uneasy. Just the language and new culture rendering them foreigners. Perhaps it’s my constant displacement, but I feel so unbelievably comfortable in being uncomfortable, in this constant state of lostness.
We’re moving onto Léo in the next few days and meeting our host families. That’s where Pre-Service Training (PST) will really start and we truly dive into Burkinabé culture. But until then, another day in Ouaga, hidden away in this compound. Another cold shower, another night spent with my beloved roommates, another summer storm.