Note: if you speak French, you'll recognize that the title of this blog post is terribly witty and funny... If you don't, find a Francophone and have them explain it to you. It'll make for good conversation.

Ten days, three towns, four bush taxis, and nineteen military roadblocks later, I've made it back alive to Dubreka. The adventure started as the trainees and trainers piled into the Peace Corps bus, Guinean style, to head to Mamou. Guinean style meaning- if there aren't enough seats, make room, and don't even bother with a head count: more people will certainly show up. During the five hour trip to Mamou (where we were to have our counterpart workshop), we were witness to our first round of annoying military checkpoints, food purchases from out the bus windows, and necessary breaks for prayer. Most of the drive was beautiful though, and at one point all of the Americans on the bus found it necessary to sing 'The Circle of Life' out of reverence for the Guinean landscape. Another highlight of the trip was stopping at a gas station in Kindia that carried luxury items such as yogurt and real chocolate. Needless to say, we whipped out our Guinean Francs and splurged.

The conference in Mamou was held at a forestry school/hotel, and the food was some of the best we'd tasted thus far in Guinea. Fresh tomato salads NOT covered mayonnaise, pasta, potatoes, bananas, and oranges were all on the daily menu. The conference started well, but my supervisor or 'counterpart', who had arrived late at night the same day as us, had to quickly leave for Labé because one of his daughters was gravely ill and in the hospital. We made plans to meet up in Labé at the end of the conference and for me to take good notes and explain everything to him that he missed.

With the help of another supervisor, I made my way from Mamou to Labé via bush taxi, and caught up with my counterpart at the taxi station. His daughter was doing better by then, so we found another taxi going to Lafou, our final destination. The town is technically only 45km out of Labé, but it took a good three hours to get there, mostly because of the lack of road and roadblocks. At one point, we were stopped at a military checkpoint for an hour and a half because our taxi was apparently carrying palm oil that was not supposed to leave the prefecture. The situation was finally sorted out, and we were sent on our way to Lafou again.

Upon arrival at my site, I was sat down in my supervisor's home with his wife who speaks less French than I speak Pular. My supervisor proceed to round up all of the male big wigs of the village, which took a good forty five minutes. Finally, when everyone had arrived, I was ushered to my house, right next door to my supervisor's and my presence was officially announced to all of the important men. I felt a little silly at this point, as they were standing around me in a circle while they had made me sit down in a chair, but I tried my best to stay serious and respectful.

My house is a two bedroom building with a 'salon' area and an indoor latrine. All my doors and windows close and lock, but that doesn't keep out certain friends like spiders, cockroaches, and mice. The first night, I was wary about the foam mattress, which look like it had been visited by some other animal friends, so I hung my hammock from the rafter and slept well. My tin roof makes for nice background noise when it rains at night and a not so nice alarm clock when the giant vultures land on my roof in morning. Also, there are lots of crazy cows that sound a little too much like the monster from Lost. The second day in Lafou, I scrubbed down the mattress and everything else I could manage to clean with just soap and water, and decided to sleep in the bed for the rest of my stay.

The next few days were slow paced and simple, but my supervisor had to head back to Labé for business and his daughter for the rest of my stay. The village is very small, and the school is a combined middle-high school. Most of the people in my village only speak Pular, and I was frequently criticized for not being Pular fluent yet. The village is in the mountains of the Fouta, and a walk in any direction makes me feel like I'm in the opening scenes of the Sound of Music. There is a weekly market every Thursday, but there's no power and no running water anywhere in the village.

At the end of my stay, I got in another taxi by myself to Labé, where I met the rest of the Fouta volunteers at the Peace Corps house. We stayed in Labé for a few days, exploring the down, organizing the PC house, and exchanging site visit stories. We even found a hotel that served overpriced pizza and beer!

On Saturday, we piled in two taxis for the nine hour trip back to Dubreka, which was another adventure in itself....