Wednesday, March 4, 2009

my first village meeting!

the hot days of the dry season have definitely started. the mornings are still cool but the heat starts to creep in around noon and by this late part of the day, i'm sweating by just sitting down.

on monday, ethan, gabe, omar, jc, ben (a volunteer who lives outside of kaffrine), and el-hadji (a charette driver) showed up in my village around 2pm. they showed up for my first village-wide meeting in which i was planning on explaining how this year everybody could have their own pepiniere (if they wanted it) and then have omar talk a bit about agroforestry and the technologies we could implement.

i was very nervous about not only the meeting but also felt like this would be a test of my wolof and knowledge of senegalese hospitality. turns out i've imbibed more information that i thought and knew to get my guests soow (curdled cow's milk with sugar -- the best stuff ever), a great lunch with of rice with fish, carrots, eggplant, cabbage, pataase (a kind of sweet potato), jaaxatu (bitter tomato), and tamarind sauce (a very expensive lunch), tea and sugar for them and all the meeting attendees. i even remembered to have lunches brought to the neighbors on both sides of our compound. the women were rather pleased with my ability to entertain.

the meeting itself was short and quick. it was a bit of a big deal for me because it was my first village meeting. everybody showed up dressed nicely and ready to hear what i had to say. i spoke for a while in wolof, first making mention that i was nervous about speaking wolof in front of all of them and that i hoped it would be clear. after i spoke there was a murmer of approval, claps, and several exclamation of how i now understand wolof. omar spoke for a bit and then there was a few short speeches from the village...and then it was over. there had been a lot of anticipation and build up on my behalf and just like that it was over and after a tour of the valley, my guests were whisked away on the charette.

ben stayed behind to hang out. i like him and we had fun chatting and talking about familiar places as he is from nyc and went to school at princeton. he also provided a nice break and excuse to fill my day with not doing muhc after a few days of what felt like the longest days ever of my service.

up until now (today) nobody has showed up to talk about pepinieres, which is a little discouraging and makes me feel that i will soon have to travel door to door selling the idea of a personal pepinere, which is something i'm not really thrilled about doing as i don't want people to have pepinieres of of obligation to me but because they actually want it. but maybe i am just being american impatient.

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