Ever hear of Lafou? Neither has most of the world, or the Internet for that matter. A google search on 'Lafou, Guinea' will ask you if you meant to look for 'Lefou,' and the related images are just plain irrelevant. I might have to write the wikipedia article on it myself. In any case, Lafou will be my new home in under two months, as we found out yesterday during our site announcements.

Since arrival, we've been itching to know where in Guinea we'll be sent after training. Speculation about our site assignments has been the second most common topic of conversation among us Peace Corps Trainees, ranking just below common bowel movement issues. From all that our group has heard from our trainers and the few volunteers in country, one region seems to stand above them all. Stories from the Fouta, or Moyenne-Guinée, have been fed to us like tales of the promise land. The Fouta is apparently covered in mountains and waterfalls, is lush and full of great stuff to eat (aka not just rice and fish sauce!). The best part is that it's much much cooler than the Basse-Côte, where we currently are. The regional language is Pulaar, which is apparently the most difficult to learn. The rumor at the beginning of training was that those who were better in French would be sent to the Fouta, as they could start learning Pulaar much earlier than those who had not yet achieved the necessary level of French. Needless to say, I was crossing my fingers for the Fouta.

Last week, we had our site interviews, where our program director seemed very impressed with my French skills and teaching background. He asked if I would be interested in a site where I could teach chemistry at a high school (our program was designed to respond to needs in middle schools initially). I told him yes, not knowing where the site was, but very proud to have been offered the opportunity. The next day, I got the slip from the chemistry coordinator that the site was in the most coveted of regions...the Fouta. I could barely contain my excitement as they brought me a new stack of materials for high school level chemistry.

The official site announcements were made on Tuesday. Our trainers brought out a big map of Guinea, and site by site, went through and described the town and then named the volunteer. It was very reminiscent of the whole Harry Potter-sorting hat process, and later some of the volunteers equated each region of Guinea with each of the Hogwarts houses. (For those interested, here's the breakdown- Haute-Guinee: Griffyndor, Fouta: Ravenclaw, Forest: Slytherin, Basse-Côte: Hufflepuff.) I'm now officially one of the Fouta volunteers. My town, Lafou, is 45km north of our regional capital, Labé, and is on the road to Senegal (the country). It's located in the most mountainous region of the Fouta, and i'll be living in my own house, built by the Peace Corps. Still won't have running water or electricity, but I'm told my latrine is indoors. Oh, the little luxuries of life.

At our counterpart workshop next week, we'll get to meet and collaborate with one representative from our school. Then, we'll travel with our counterpart to go see our sites for the first time, and spend a few nights in our future homes.

In other news, Guineans here are well into their third day of Ramadan, which really doesn't effect us much except for when everyone around us gets very sleepy about two. Fasting will do that to you. There are a lot of other little daily adjustments that Muslim Guineans are making, such as getting up before dawn to eat and pray, going to the mosque more frequently, and girls ditching their pants for skirts and dresses. I've been wearing a bandana or head scarf out of respect, as most of the girls have chosen to do, but it's not mandatory. Bkbk

Back soon with real tales from the Fouta, -Sarah Photo of Byron Bay - one of Australia's best beaches!