I've gotten both my legal and medical clearance. Barring major incident, I'll be in Ouagadougou on or about June 15!
Got my Clearances!
Unless there's some kind of catastrophic event, or a Trumpacolyptic cut to the Peace Corps budget between now and mid-June, this means I'll definitely be going to Burkina Faso, most likley arriving June 15. I say “most likely” because it's not unheard of for the date to get moved forward or back by a couple of days. I should be getting a notification of a definitive date along with travel booking instructions before too long – maybe in about a month?
It turns out that my legal clearance was granted on March 30th, and the notification was sitting in my spam folder. I dug a little deeper, and based on the e-mail headers in my notification e-mail, it looks like the system on the Peace Corps side hadn't correctly configured their SPF record with their DNS host. They just now upgraded their internal IT system, and this isn't a shocking omission. I did of course let them know. Anyway, these things happen.
Also in the “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” department, my plans had called for me to travel on Monday, April 17 from the UK to Strasbourg for my French class that starts the next day. It turns out that that's the Monday after Easter, and just about all travel options are fully booked on that Monday. And the Sunday before. And the Saturday before that. Also, I didn't notice that the Eurostar website had changed the date to Tuesday after I asked for Monday – they did have a text note on the web site, but it wasn't exactly in a huge font, or otherwise made prominent. So, I booked the $300 non-refudable train ticket before I noticed the date change. Given how full everything is, I probably couldn't have done any better than Tuesday anyway, short of going to France now and skipping my planned visit to my friend Jeremy in Bath.
So, long story short, it looks like I'll miss my first day of French language class! But hey, rolling with this kind of thing is part of traveling; I'm sure Burkina Faso will be full of all kinds of disruptive changes to plans like this. So this is good practice.
I took a placement test for the school yeserday, and it was a bit humbling. I think I did OK, but it's been a couple of decades since I've thought about some of the finer points of grammar. Anyhoo, getting better at that, as well as conversational French, is kind of the point of me taking this class in the first place, so all is good. Here's where I'm going: http://www.ciel-strasbourg.org/, or on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/CielStrasbourg/. I believe it's sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. I'll be staying with a family, and they sound delightful. It looks like a good place, and I'm looking forward to living in Strasbourg for a month!
Can't wait, and it's a bit surreal
I'm very much looking forward to getting to Burkia Faso, but it also seems a little surreal. I've been thinking about this and planning it for so long that it's almost become an abstraction; in a way it's harder than before to imagine that I'll actually, physically be there in a couple of months. One thing I'll say for “retirement” so far – it ain't boring! My two week swing through Ireland and the UK to visit frends has been fantastic, the language classes look great, and before I know it I'll be having a totally new experience starting in Ouagadougou. This is fun!