congratulations to me, i have been healthy for longer than a week!
i have also been at my homestay for a bit more than a week now and i am now totally fluent in wolof and have had completely intergrated myself into my new community and will be getting married to my new senegalese neighbor next week.
clearly that is wishful thinking and i am not even close to being fluent in wolof or getting married. regardless, my homestay has been quite a pleasant experience -- although literally 5 minutes ago the only (impeccable) english speaking member of the family has just left to return to the cassamance region. i know that his departure is good for me because now i am officially 100% wolof (eek!) all the time (although hearing coumba cry for her papi is a little heartbreaking) and this will force me to really speak/understand the language. it has been exhausting trying to get a grasp of this language that i have never in my life heard before but i think/hope i am making progress. sometimes i forget that i haven't been here as long as i feel like i've been here, which results in my feeling frustrated because i feel as if i ought to know more of the language when in reality, i have only been learning wolof for a week. anyway, inshallah, "it will come" as many of the trainers and my family members have been assuring me. i can only hope that it will come -- as hope is all i've really got here.
to explain my life in a bit more detail, these days i live in a neighborhood which is supposedly about a half hour walk from the PC training center. i'm still in thies (pronounced "chess"), which means that as of now, i am still in an urban setting. i haven't had much time to explore thies but from what i have seen, it is a rough and tumble city that expands and stretches with no street names and paved roads are a bit rare.
i live off a huge dirt road which makes biking super fun for me. as a PCT/PCV we are issued bikes that have become our prized possessions as they are not only the key to our independence and freedom, but they are also sweet ass mountain bikes that are a lot nicer than some of the bikes any of us have ever owned. my bike even has a basket! it is very cool. i have a bike bell as well, but i always forget to use it when i am swerving in and out of traffic and trying my best to abide by the (lack thereof) traffic patterns. when i was living in nyc, i never biked in the streets but these days the notion is that if i can bike in thies, i can bike anywhere. don't worry, i am required by PC policy to wear a helmet.
i get up at about 6 every day (sometimes earlier because the mosques start loudspeaking prayer at around 5:30) to a still-dark morning. i spend five minutes wandering around the compound with the moon and stars still hanging out while i fill up my bucket. it is nice in the morning because i am the first one up and it is one of the rare moments of the day that i have completely to myself. then i take a bucket bath. we have a shower with low water pressure but i much prefer bucket bathing as it 1) conserves more water and 2) is a lot more fun/refreshing/enjoyable.
at about 6:30-6:45 i am done bathing and have changed into one of my 5 t-shirts and this is when (and i still am trying to understand this strange phenomenon), a big swarm of flies wakes up and buzzes around my room. the flies are not that important of a detail to mention but it is very strange and it still fascinates me every morning. it used to bug me (no pun intended, really) but i just deal with it now and shut them into my room and by the time i come home, i have a collection of dead flies on my floor.
i leave the house at around 6:50 and it takes me about 10 minutes to race from my neighborhood to the training center. i absolutely love biking to and from work and this might be one of my favorite parts of the day. i get to the center at 7 and get my breakfast of mburu ak tigadeye walla mburu ak chocolat (bread with peanut butter or bread with chocolate spread) and (instant) coffee and practice my greetings with the kitchen staff. training starts at 8 and goes on until lunch at 12:30 (with a 30 minute break thrown in). lunch break happens from 12:30 to 2:30 and class/training picks up again until 6.
i get home before 7:30 (when it gets dark) but sometimes it can be really hard to drag myself home because going home isn't like going home in the states where i can just chill, relax, and decompress...it is going straight into another high stress situation where i have to be thinking and communicating in wolof. moreover, integration is a really important aspect of this all so i make myself sit with my family and hang out and talk to them even though sometimes all i want to do is hide in my (very hot) room and speak in english to myself. despite this thinking, i usually wind up having a wonderful evening with my family because they really are the most wonderful people who have nothing but my best interests in mind and are totally willing to walk me through my very very very rudimentary wolof.
today is sunday, my one day off (we have half days of work on saturdays), and i got to sleep in until 8:45 which was soooo nice. i think i am going to the market (if i understood correctly) with my sister anne-marie to look for fabric because i desperately need pants made. it gets HOT here and i did not pack suitably in terms of bottoms and it is impossible to ride a bike in a skirt without getting it torn up or flashing the world your knees (not acceptable).
my brother helped me get a cell phone this past week so i am totally connected with the rest of the world and it is great. email me or check my facebook for the phone number and send me witty messages or if you feel like spending the dough, give me a call (just remember the 4 hour difference)! also, i know that sending packages is expensive but these are the things i really, really, really need:
- granola bars/instant oatmeal
- soy milk (powdered/small packages of liquid)
- books (good ones!)
- relatively thin t-shirts (size small) with funny/witty/nostalgic sayings/pictures (my clothes are - already - getting torn up here)
- pictures/letters/news clippings/notes/love
i know it is kind of a pain in the ass but you have no idea how wonderful it feels to get a letter (thank you loris!!!) and how much it can change the day. or...send me an email. i've been here for over three weeks and the only emails i've received are from my family! don't forget me now!
again, my address until november is:
PCT Angelica Kang
Corps de la Paix
i hope that all is well back at home! i don't miss it too much but am super curious about how your lives are going and what has been happening. senegal is treating me well and i really love being here. my new friends and colleagues are wonderful people and i really can't complain too much that every morning i get to wake up to this wonderful privilege of being able to live and learn in senegal. thank you again for all your love and support and for believing that i can do all the things that i want to do within my lifetime. i love you all and look forward to hearing from you. (and i better!!)
love, peace, and respect