Wednesday, July 30, 2008
the single post in july
this has been a busy, fun, and successful month but my blog has suffered as a consequence of it. sorry!
my sister came to visit me from july 7 to the 25th and we had a blast. after our happy reunion we hung out in dakar for a few days, where i took her around on a little food based tour of the city (she didn't understand my excitement over
being in a place of gastronomic abundance).
after that we went to an ecolodge in toubakouta in the sine saloum delta. it was totally gorgeous and fun and exciting because we got to go on these nature walks where we waded waist high in water through mangroves and felt like we were in an indiana jones movie or something. we joked about how we spent our childhoods pretending this stuff happened when the suburbs flooded and now we were actually living it out (no poisonous snakes though).
we then spent a week in the village, where she became "ouly ka" and had a great time with my villagers. she helped me begin outplanting my trees -- the trees have homes now! we began a live fence of various thorny species in my compound and then helped outplant a live fence in the valley with trees from the world vision pepineer. it is exciting to see my baby trees being move out into the big wild world and i am crossing my fingers and hoping that they will make it despite all the dangers of goats and cows and children and drought and heat and all the brutalities of the bush. i took advantage of her teacher skills and had her help me teach the english classes with the girls and she was amazing, my girls are now able to read silly sentences like "the fat cat on the mat eats meat." jamm rekk (my cat) was a great help...she would sit in the middle of the class (my hut) and nap and purr while we spelled out C A T and proclaimed "cat!"
we left the village with leanne crying on the charette and then went out to saly, a beach/resort area on the coast that i've heard makes one feel as though they've left africa. while i wasn't entirely looking for that experience, we tried it out for a spin and found a wonderful hotel in the village section of the town. by doing so we got to hang out with other senegalese but still have the sweet experience of a pool and nice beds and hot water and good plumbing and totally excellent food. chris and JC joined us for this leg of the trip which was great because it was all my favorite people and we all got along and i was a very happy girl. the town itself is wild and truly does make one feel like they are no longer in senegal, it is especially worlds away from rural senegal and while it was a little bit jarring, it was a welcome change in scenery. while i love the village, it is nice to get away and appreciate the other ways of life -- like happy hour and kir royals and pizza and the beach and good food and staying out late at night because there is electricity to light the bocce ball game we played with our new friends we made with the hotel staff.
leanne left senegal to trace the slave trade route in ghana which sounds totally awesome and i wish i could have gone with her but alas, i have work here in senegal. trees must be planted and girls must be taught and radio shows must be done. two days ago (monday) JC and i broadcast peace corps first radio show in the kaolack region. tayo set up a peace corps radio show with Radio Communitaire Sine-Salom FM (96.4) every monday afternoon. we have an hour of air time to discuss peace corps and whatever other topics we feel are relevant to the kaolack community. he asked JC and me to do the first show, to introduce peace corps and our intentions for the radio show. we were at first a little nervous to do so but agreed nonetheless and wound up having a great time. we got to feel super cool in a radio recording studio with fancy microphones (but no headphones) and we talked about peace corps (our work, the different sectors, cleared up myths about the peace corps organization) and ourselves (brought up issues about women, education, ethnicity) and differences between american culture and senegalese culture. i also got to play a bunch of music and rocked out kaolack with a playlist that included elvis presley, salt n' pepa, phil collins, michael jackson, the fugees, and creedence clearwater revival.
heading back to the village today and hoping to stay there for a good chunk of time, since i've been traveling in and out for the whole month of july. i'm a little reluctant to leave but i think it is just merely because i've been spoiled by the luxuries of electricity and running water and food. things at site have really been improving since the rains have come and my work in the pepineer hasn't been completely ruined. leanne also helped me realize that i've come a long way in terms of my language skills and integration into the culture and that my village and i are having a great time with each other and i am thinking more and more these days that i am actually making an impact. its exciting. i'm almost a year into my service and things are finally feeling like they are coming together.