In Z-Ville

Hello from Zinder! After a 14-hour bus ride, we arrived last night with swollen ankles and aching butts but big smiles as we were very excited to be at our new home. Our teammates picked us up and brought us back to the hostel, which they cleaned and already had all of our beds set up.

Team Zinder is also know as Team Fat because they cook the most delicious meals and it is very, very true. Last night, there was vegetarian chili and homemade corn bread waiting for us. This morning, when we saw Zinder for the first time in daylight, there was eggs with onions and peppers, potatoes with tomatoes and French toast. We then enjoyed a very yummy and traditional Nigerien feast with the Community and Development APCD at his childhood home and tonight we are promised lasagna and garlic toast, all of which are made from scratch. Seriously, I love Team Z.

This morning we went shopping for essentials for my new home. Other times that I have moved, I usually make a trip to Walmart or a similar store for cleaning supplies, food and whatever other thing I knew my new place needed. Here, though, shopping is different. We walked 20 minutes to the market and wondered through stores until we found one where we could buy buckets. The vendor was so kind as to let us sit in his shop as he ran around to get the other items we needed. After 20 minutes, Ashley and I had buckets, soap dishes, buddahs, silverware, knives and pots pans. We are also scored stools for our showers, sitting mats and a radio. It was a productive day, one I couldn’t have endured if it wasn’t for the two seasoned volunteers who helped us bargain.

Yesterday, it was tough to say goodbye to all of the other volunteers. The Zinder and Mardi teams left the training site at 4:30 a.m. I made the rounds saying goodbye to the Tilliberi and Doso kids the night before, but some woke up early to form a hug tunnel as we walked to our bus. We said our goodbyes and were off. And then we saw the Mardi volunteers off as we continued down the road.

It was sad to say goodbye, but we are happy to start living the life we came here to experience. It’s still very surreal to me that I am now a volunteer and will soon be on my own. The next month will be hard, with limited French and barely any Hausa, but I am ready for it. I will giggle and smile way through every awkward situation and I to make those that love me proud. I will try to make friends and live like the Nigeriens. I will be the best first-month volunteer that I can.

During our first month, our only responsibilities are to integrate and learn the language – no projects yet. I will spend it acquainting myself with my village and adopting the culture.

In that first month, I am not allowed to leave my village, which means I will not have Internet for at least a month. I’ll be writing letters during this time, so feel free to send me one (hint, hint). There is also my nifty cell phone that any of you could call for a quick interaction (again, hint, hint.) And if you need something super special, contact that wonderful woman I call mom.

Till then, I have schedule posts for the month of October. The date there were written appears at the beginning, so most of them are a month old but time doesn’t impact their meaning. I hope to have a whole new set of posts when I return to Zinder at then end of the month. I hope that you all can continue to read this blog as this new posts appear. Thank you to those that follow it religiously; it mean’s everything to me.

Oh, and some day, photos. My mom posted a bunch of Facebook and I will someday do that as well. But not today.

So, now I leave you my blog readers and prepare for the more pivotal month of my experience. See you in October.

Love and peace,
Heather

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