Burkina Faso Peace Corps Volunteer Aaron Kase writes: Moon over Africa
Night falls around 6 p.m. throughout the year but the noise continues for several hours. Radios come on, animals grow restless, conversation, maybe over a beer or two, grows more animated. It isn't until later, 10 or 11 p.m., when the people and animals start falling asleep, when things start getting almost eerily quiet, broken only by the odd lovestruck cricket or dog whose sleep has been disturbed.
Nightfall, as well, brings a whole new visual perspective, or rather a lack thereof. The red of the day is replaced by pure black. When the moon is up one can still see surprisingly well even without a flashlight, but during the new moon even the best lights fail to penetrate more than a few feet into the night. The stars are visible, with an incredible clarity and depth rarely found in more developed countries, but terrestrially speaking almost nothing can be seen at all. Once familiar and distinct paths take on a sameness and for one not used to the dark and the terrain it becomes quite easy to lose the trail.
That is how this new Peace Corps Volunteer got lost at eight o'clock trying to find my way home my first week in village. Following paths I thought I knew well but at a loss without the familiar landmarks of visible trees and houses, I became entirely disoriented until I was forced to ask a pair of girls walking by if they could help me find the way. I didn't understand why they were laughing at me until they pointed out that we were standing mere yards from my own house.
I've got to learn to use my other senses. I should have recognized the agonized braying of the neighbor's donkey.