Blogs from Labé, Guinea, Africa

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Africa » Guinea » Labé May 6th 2011

We were in pursuit of the rarely seen Fouta Djalon ranges. Driving around in a motorbike my guide and I could see the lush green pine trees mixed with other varieties of trees. All were surrounding the road and the hills in the distances. Locals pop up every now and then and they look gobsmacked. Kids yell out all day “Porto!” (In the local language) which means, “White skin!” It’s something that happens throughout Africa and it’s classed as okay to say. Even adults have called me white man. In Australia if a child was to say “black man” than it’s like, ‘Oh great my child is racists.’ “Theodore don’t say that!” It’s refreshing to hear people saying it as they see it. And for a country pretty much unknown to most of the world it ... read more
2 - Ditinn Falls
3 - washing at Dounkimagna Dam
4 - Drafts a popular game

Africa » Guinea » Labé June 19th 2010

I was scrambling up the side of a Guinean mountain when…when I realized the faint game-like trail I was following had disappeared under a small avalanche of rocks. Looking back out across the valley I had just traversed, the few tiny huts and peanut fields of the last village before the mountain were barely visible amongst the vast green forest below. After unsuccessfully searching the area for the continuation of the trail, it seemed the options were either to return down the steep slope, defeated, back to the last village, or try to push forward and get a vantage point from the mountain’s top, which it seemed couldn’t be far off. I had hiked over 30 km that day and the only people I had encountered were in the villages, so the thought of two ... read more
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Africa » Guinea » Labé September 28th 2009

Disclaimer: The contents of this page, and all links appearing on this page, do not represent the positions, views or intents of the U.S. Government, United States Peace Corps or Peace Corps Guinea. Kindly do not republish anything found on these pages without explicit permission of the author. I wake up at 7:30. I rush out of bed. I have to meet someone at 8. I quickly get dressed and run up to the roof of the Peace Corps office. I begin praying the morning service of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The guard tells me later it's the first time he's ever seen a volunteer pray. I sneak glances into the courtyards of my neighbors. Women are getting water from wells. Men are in front of their houses brushing their teeth. Everything is ... read more

Africa » Guinea » Labé July 17th 2009

The rainy season is finally here! There's no more school, so all the college and high school students come back to the village for the vacation. No more ridiculously hot weather. And my favorite, no more relying on a well 15 minutes away for all my water. Now it's delivered to me, straight off my roof. :) Far from being a vacation time, everyone is working more than usual. Practically everyone is in the fields most if not all of the day planting corn, rice, peanuts, cassava, sweet potatoes, and okra. All of this is done by hand, the only assistance being that of a hoe. Even I'm working more than usual. Because everyone's out of school, when they're not planting they want to learn English. So I've been having about three private lessons a day ... read more
Aissata & Adama Keita
The Boys

Africa » Guinea » Labé July 3rd 2009

Ok kids, here's the deal. I'm still hanging out in Guinea (18 months down, 8 to go). A year ago I started fundraising through Peace Corps to renovate the elementary school in my village. This thing was built by the French, back in the day when colonization was still in style. In the 50+ years since then, no repairs have been made. So basically, it looks like a bomb hit it. If it were in the US, it would be demolished as a public health risk. But this is Guinea. So the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders have class there. Cool, right? So. My commnunity asked Peace corps for help. Around $8000 worth of help. Through a series of small miracles, a little less than $2000 actually came through. With that money, we took off what ... read more
"Petit a Petit"

Africa » Guinea » Labé February 21st 2009

I’m going to try to be as respectful as possible while writing this; however I’m sure that at some point I’ll fail. For this I apologize to whomever I offend. A year and half ago, if you asked me, I would have told you that hardline feminists annoy the hell out of me. They still do, most anyway. (That is to say women who said the only reason they wanted Clinton for president was because she had a vagina; women who only apply their “principles” to white upper or middle class women therefore excluding the majority of their supposed constituency.) However, much to my ire, I know find myself constantly talking, thinking, writing, crying, and screaming about gender. (Sorry college friends, there is no difference between “sex” and “gender” here.) It’s with me when I go ... read more
The 11th Grade
Bridal Gown

Africa » Guinea » Labé July 11th 2008

Sorry for the late entry everyone (and it won't be a great one at that ... I have to run and get to the taxi stand). I went down to Conakry for the 4th of July (and gorged on lots of American style food), but was asked to leave immediately afterwards to show the new Country Director my village. We've have a great staff here in Guinea, and the new director and his wife are only adding to it all. So I'm still alive, don't worry. I wanted to upload pictures, but it seems that their might be a virus on my card, so you'll all have to wait until I get it sorted out in August. Sorry! Things are going well. There was a stint there were I didn't leave my village for 5 weeks ... read more
Mushrooms

Africa » Guinea » Labé April 11th 2008

24 March 2008 I’ve been having some bad days and getting dis-spirited. I often feel like my French is getting worse and that I’m not learning any Pular. I always feel like I’m not doing enough and often that I’m doing nothing at all. I was horrified when I realized in one week I’d finished reading 3 books (compared to the 5 I read in the first two months.) But then there are little signs of success here and there. My elderly neighbor, Nenne Kanne, who only speaks Pular (to others, but mostly to herself) has started using some French with me including “merci” and “c’est bon.” This may seem insignificant, but if you knew this woman ... The little girl who lives with Nenne Kanne, also named Oumou (that’s my name here) use to run ... read more
Health Center
Cafe Where I Hang Out
Cell Phone Service Tree

Africa » Guinea » Labé March 16th 2008

24 February 2008 Abdelrahmane just told me that heaving breathing outside my window every night was sorcery and that when he hears he runs away. Scared out of my mind, I kept asking him questions After about 20 minutes and thanks to the English-Pular dictionary that some missionaries made, I learned that “bird of sorcery” means owl in Pular. This revelation made me feel better until I remembered that I was taught that owls go “hoo,” not breathe heavily. But then again, I’m not an owl expert. Maybe Guinean owls don’t go “hoo” and just breathe really loudy and creepily. 6 March 2008 Things I’m doing that don’t surprise anyone at home * Not using toilet paper * Reading lots, re-reading Mountains Beyond Mountains for the 18th time * Trying like hell to learn Pular * ... read more

Africa » Guinea » Labé February 14th 2008

11 February 2008 Yesterday for dinner we went to a restaurant and ordered hamburgers. We got hard boiled eggs covered with a thin layer of ground beef swimming in a pool of oil and cold french fries. We opted to make our own dinner tonight and made pancakes with chocolate sauce, mexican eggs, salsa, guacamole, and garlic bread. A little random but amazing. 12 February 2008 Yesterday we went shopping. Kim and I got lost a couple times in the market and got about 20 marriage proposals. It's a time intensive process, so even though we were out all day we only bought about 10 items, all really random: tye-dye sheets, a foot brush, flip flops, a radio, a bucketm ketchup, a thermus, cups, and 3 meters of fabric which I'm using for a tablecloth and ... read more




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