back at site and surprised as to how easy it is for me to readjust into being here. i left kaolack and went to kaffrine on tuesday for a meeting with ethan from trees for the future. i felt very official when i called home and told them that i would not be back for another few days because i had a meeting with an NGO.
walking around kaffrine, i heard my name called, which was cool because i don't often get recognized in kaffrine. turns out it was hattie ba and another woman from my village. we were happy to see each other and i was told that fatou had her baby! a boy! i was very happy and excited to find that out. turns out talla was in town too and i ran into him and excitedly congratulated him. being that this is his 10th child, he was pretty chill about the whole thing, but i was pumped and ran off into the market to buy presents.
the meeting with ethan was very cool and it really looks like trees for the future wants to work with us PCVs. he gave us a bunch of seeds and a good idea of what direction TFTF is going. he also gave good advice about our stints as PCVs (being a returned volunteer himself) and what to do after all of this. this is a working relationship that i definitely want to pursue.
the next day i headed back to site and caught an al-hum from kaffrine to birkelane. a crazy drunk guy helped me out but then got frighteningly aggressive and demanded money from me. i handled it fairly well and everybody on the car came to my defense and collectively got the man kicked off.
after having ben in kedougou and kaolack for quite some time, i hadn't been alone and on my own in senegal for a qhile and was rather relieved to finally be back in "PCV mode." what was also really awesome was that i am finally comfortable enough with the language to be chatty. i talked with a guy on the al-hum, moussa & thiam at the butig, aliou & his seerer friend, and even talla on the charette ride home. i was very talkative and things felt so natural and comfortable, from hanging out at my friend's butig to greeting aliou and drinking tea with him. talla had brought along baye to pick me up and that little boy now feels very much like family and he treats me like it too. i have a lot of affection for him now (so long as i don't have to clean up his poop) and i love having little senegalese siblings to love and care for and yell at.
i got home and was excitedly greeted by the family. i was happy to see them and also happy to see that jamm rekk was still alive and well taken care of. in fact, mamasou came running up to me with jamm rekk in the basket -- i have a feeling that she took good care of my cat. bless that girl, she had swept and arranged my hut for me and i actually found out later that she had also done this on sunday when i was expected to come home. i gave her 200CFA for everything and made sure aram (her mom) knew how much i appreciated her daughter's help. mamasou was really pleased with the money and she immediately put it away "to save."
i went to go see fatou and the new baby. he's quite adorable and has lots of hair. fatou looks beautiful and quite relieved and gave me her "neene" ("little baby" in wolof and is quite possibly the best word for a baby and also my favorite wolof word) to hold. i held him while i chatted with fatou and then the neene peed on me. the relationship has been established. fatou and i laughed about it and regardless of the pee, i was struck with a feeling of complete happiness and content in being back at site.
jamm rekk has gotten much bigger within the time i was away and also far more independent. it was actually good that i left her for so long because i came back to her roaming around the compound freely and well adjusted. she's figured out how to climb up my screen door and out of the hut, so there's not much of a point in keeping her in there. the dog doesn't care about her anymore and she is totally fearless and imperturbable. she loves to hang out with the kids and they pet her and bug her and she deals with it quite well. fatou told me that she woke up one morning to find jamm rekk nestled in between the kids and when she was having her baby, jamm rekk was in the corner of her hut watching the whole thing. the kids have gained a friend and i know that when i leave here, she will be well taken care of.
one of the best parts about being back is that it seems like my wolof has improved greatly -- thus giving me the ability to be so chatty and loquacious. i'm slowly getting a grasp of the grammar points and my shyness is decreasing. several people have told me that my wolof is improving and i've been a) able to yell at the children and have them listen to me, b) chat with mamasou, and c) be witty on the spot. this is definitely very exciting for me and i am way more talkative than i used to be which makes me feel a lot more part of the community. i just hope that this is a continual improvement and not just a short growth spurt. it feels great to finally be able to somewhat express myself in this language!