i haven't written in a while because the past few weeks have been too depressing to write about.
ultimately, the pepineer i last spoke about is dead. i've been away from site for over a week now (for reasons that i will soon address), but the last time i was there, i had 10 trees left. it has been terribly traumatizing to see months of hard work and labor die/fail before my very eyes and my first attempt at agroforestry in senegal has gone to to the shitter. it sucks.
what happened? basically everything that could wrong in a pepineer did -- due to personal errors, errors of my counterpart, and acts of nature. first, in fear of the intense heat and sun my pepineer was barraged by (due to poor site choice location, not my choice), i overwatered. of the total sacks i seeded, i had about a 50% germination rate (pretty good). of that 50%, about half withered from overwatering and/or exposure to the blazing heat and constant hot west wind. the other 50% of the seeds rotted in the sacks. the half that didn't wither and still had the willpower to live were then victim to goats breaking in and ransacking on the fresh tender greens of my seedlings. i was heartbroken and had an emotional meltdown one day in which i could do nothing but hide in my hut and break into tears throughout the day. thankfully i had lots of emotional support from my fellow colleagues who also banded together and gave me all their leftover seeds to use for reseeding.
because of the breakdown and also because of my wisdom teeth coming in, i left site and went to kaolack where i met with JC and we made eggplant parmesan. chris came in that evening and surprised me with a mah-jong set that his dad had mailed him, so we spent the rest of the evening playing. the next few days were spent in kaolack moping around in depression about the dead trees and cooking lots of fish. we grilled a big fish in a red wine marinade (red wine, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, pepper, salt, red pepper, dash of vinegar) with some roasted vegetables. the next night, still on a fish kick, we grilled up more fish -- this time 7 smaller fish with three different marinades: honey (honey, soy sauce, garlic), red wine (same as the previous night's), and a lime-pepper butter marinade. we also had a big salad with kidney beans and sheep cheese and roasted potatoes and herbs.
chris and i then headed out to dakar. he had a few meetings to go to and i had an appointment with the medical office in hopes to alleviate the issue of my wisdom teeth coming in. i had heard a rumor that peace corps flies you to america in order to get your teeth removed so i was pretty excited about the possibility of that being true. turns out, all i got was a free trip to the dentist who told me that he would remove my teeth on monday morning (it was a wednesday), so i would have to hang out in expensive dakar until then. it wasn't THAT much of an issue considering that there was free access to a pool and constant access to the beach and good food and all of the luxuries that dakar provides.
because of greater accessibility to foods and groceries, we took advantage of the opportunity to cook loads of good food. the first night we made pesto (mostly from a jar though, as i had no basil) which we then used the leftovers for egg sandwiches for breakfast. then i made a chicken curry over rice another night. a third night we made green onion pancakes and i had found udon at an indian grocery store and spinach (!!!!!) at a vegetable stand so i made a chicken broth based soup with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, chinese turnip, and spinach in it. i then fried two eggs and threw those on top of the soup and it was delicious. two nights we went out for authentic chinese food and another night we went out to a place called point almadies which has the freshest and most delicious seafood for an insanely cheap price. oh and not to mention, i had ice cream twice. REAL, delicious, creamy, ice cream. it was amazing.
after dicking around dakar for a while, i then found out from med that i WASN'T getting my teeth pulled -- the head doctor of peace corps west africa would have to approve my surgery and then peace corps in DC would have to approve it. i was told that i would be called on monday to be told the results of all the conversation about my teeth, which are in the meantime throbbing at the back of my mouth, so we were stuck in dakar for a few more days. not entirely the worst thing -- aside from the cost -- but still, i felt apprehensive about being away from site for so long and was eager to get my teeth pulled.
monday came around. no phone call and i couldn't be in dakar any longer without going broke, so chris and i left and headed back to kaolack. now i'm here and will go back to site tomorrow to start all over and try not to be too entirely discouraged by everything. overall, it's been a frustrating past few weeks and as i sit here, i am trying to pep myself up about going back and picking things up again. while being in dakar was nice, it was clouded by the apprehension of redoing my pepineer and not fucking up the entire thing again.
we'll see what happens. wish me luck.