as much as talla makes my work life miserable (primarily because he treats me like i'm an idiot and won't ever respect me unless i magically obtain a penis and a herd of cows -- and even if given the opportunity, i wouldn't take it), the women of my village make up for it.
this morning started out with talla making me want to rip out my hair because of the condescending way he was talking to me and i was sure that my work day was doomed to be a day of talla pointing out the obvious, not letting me shovel or push wheelbarrows or sift manure or mix soil or even breathe while trying to explain to me the basics of multiplication as if i never got beyond elementary school. i was doing everything i could to maintain my calm and not lose it and the morning wasn't looking very pretty.
i had mentioned to the women that i would need more water than usual today, because in the past few days i've been using my bath and drinking water to mix soil for the sacks and really scraping the bottom of the barrel for water. i felt pretty bad about it though because i personally think that carrying water is one of the hardest chores women have to perform -- hence my not asking for more water until today. i got the extra water -- more than i needed, actually -- so i was feeling a bit better and happier because of that luxury and then all these women started showing up to the compound with water for the pepineer! i thought that was pretty awesome of them and once again my confidence in the women's motivation for agricultural and trees was confirmed.
as the work day commenced, i tried my best to bite the bullet and work on being humble with talla -- my latest attempt at getting along with him is acquiescing. after all, he is the one who lives here and i am only here for 2 years and won't have to live with the consequences of my work (good consequences, hopefully). part of this acquiescence is changing over to his soil mixture for the sacks -- i've never really been outright against it (as he seems to think), i'm just not familiar with it and since i didn't come all the way here to fuck up, was reluctant to try it when i was certain that 2 parts sand to 1 part manure would work.
anyway, we were switching over to "suuf siin" and as talla was out with ousmane (a nice young man with gangly limbs who comes over often to tease the little boys and never once has asked me about my husband or boyfriend or children or has tried to take away a machete or shovel or wheelbarrow from me) gathering this stuff and i was sifting sand (after being carefully instructed what constitutes a "full wheelbarrow" and to not try to empty it myself because it would be heavy -- despite the fact that i just did this by myself the day before when he was out all morning) all these women started to stop by and ask me if i was starting work. strange, by my business is everybody's business, so whatever.
nday ndao, yaayfatou wilane, and mameroke wilane, along with fatou and aram (who have become my closest friends and accomplices when it comes to dealing with their difficult husband), have been consistently coming over to help fill sacks and have really helped the process and will get first dibs on trees and my labor (they don't know this yet) and they came over again and we started to fill sacks. then maam ndao came over and then mamecoumba wilane and then awa mbengue and then aram sow and then salla niang! 3 more women came over but we had to tell them to come back another time because there was simply not enough room. i'm pretty sure the women spread the word at the robinet this morning and all these awesome women decided to come over and help me -- like they always said they would and it realy made me appreciate the power of women and community.
fatou was cooking lunch today and called me to the kitchen hut and suggested i buy extra fish and rice so that everybody could have lunch here after the sacks were filled. awesome idea and i readily did so. we also had a secret conversation in which she helped me remember 2 of the women;s names and as we whispered in the kitchen, i felt way closer to her than i did when ij ust got here and felt like she didn't like me.
it was a lively sack filling session. i didn't say much but enjoyed the environment and listening to the conversations and was incredibly grateful that i wasn't stuck with filling 4,000 sacks by myself. together we filled like, 500+ sacks and i wanted to gather everybody in a big group hug and show them how much i loved them but of course i wasn't going to do that so instead we hung out and i made silly jokes about my cat and her late night cavorting and they laughed and laughed themselves sick. i told another PCV about today and apparently this kind of community organization and motivation is rare and my friend quipped, "wow, they must really like you!" that makes me feel really great and even if it has nothing to do with them liking me, i'll attribute it to that and feel a lot better about myself and my role here at site.