August 26, 2009
First Happy 23rd Birthday Lindsay. I zish I zas there to celebrate with you even though last year you tried to take advantage of me. I bet you are happy I’m not there to buy you a delicious Camo Ice. Have a gret one.
The Peace Corps finally gave us our phones. Yay! I really shouldn’t be too upset about just getting a phone because they Peace Corps bought it and got us a sweet deal that we can call all other PC numbers for free, but it was still miserable being in the village the first time without a phone and it’s amazing, coming from the States, how naked you feel without a phone. Anyway, everyone should call me now for a little chat. It’s not that expensive to call me on Skype and all of my incoming calls are free! 221-77-330-48-40. Hit me up.
Today, I feel like I might have made a mental breakthrough with being in Senegal, but who knows. Nothing really happened to create that shift, except getting the phones, so it could just be a phone high, but the past couple of days we have been seeing presentations from PC volunteers about their projects and some are pretty cool. Here are some examples of projects that I could be doing in the future:
1. EcoTourism: A guy is putting together a huge tourism brochure on his region. It’s awesome, full of pictures, hotel descriptions, things to do, places to eat etc. He got the project funded by an NGO and he even has French travel firms involved to show the brochure to potential European tourists.
2. IT Development/ Computer Training: One very lucky volunteer worked with the One Laptop Per Child campaign and got computers for an entire elementary school where he has wired internet and is teaching children and teachers to use computers. He also partnered with an American company to create a program so the teachers can control all the computers and the kids wont be able to surf the internet/ have to pay attention to the lessons. He also helped a man start a computer repair business.
3. Artisan Exports: Many volunteers work with Senegalese artisans to either export beautiful baskets, clothing, and wood work to Europe, the US, or other parts of Senegal. The volunteers help the artisans with basic accounting, long term planning, smoothing demand, and have even created a bi-annual artisan market in Dakar which generates huge profits for these entrepreneurs.
There are many other projects going on. These are just a few. I also got some questions sent in (by my mom and Matt, so everyone else better step it up) that I will start answering tonight since I don’t have anything really interesting to report. Wait, except that my legs are completely covered in bug bites and it’s disgusting. Until you come to Africa you haven’t seen bugs. They are huge, incredibly resilient, and give huge bites. My smallest ones are about the size of quarters and they burn and itch. Awesome. Anyway, back to the questions.
Mom Question #1: What are the gender roles in your family?
Short Answer: Girls do everything
Answer: My sisters clean the house, do the laundry, cook all the meals, do all the shopping, and are constantly moving all day. My dad is 71 years old and is a retired police man so I think he has a pension that my family lives off of because he does not work and lays on a mat most of the day fanning himself listening to French radio, which is interesting since my mom really doesn’t understand French (I’m pretty sure she’s the only illiterate person in the family) and fans herself all day. While my dad may be bringing home the bacon, my mom keeps all the money and constantly counts it. At least 4-5 times a day and she gives my sisters just enough to buy the one item they are going to the market for. They don’t go to the market and buy the rice, bread, fish, and onions we need all at once. They will make many trips throughout the day and buy one item. I wonder if it’s to combat their boredom? My brothers spend their days watching television and walking around town talking to their friends. Currently school is out so they have a lot of time, but boys don’t help out more around the house during school. They pretty much get a free pass while the girls work their asses off. I really admire my sisters. They work hard and are still really friendly and have dreams.
Matt Question #1: What are the cars like in Senegal?
Well Matt, there are Audis here! Yay! Most cars are what many Americans would call luxury cars except that they are totally decrepit and barely functioning. The brand with the greatest market share is definitely Mercedes. Most taxis, a lot of cars, and Alhamdallilahs (which in Arabic means “praised be to god”) are all Mercedes. Alhamdallilahs are huge Mercedes raper vans that are filled with people and then their luggage is precariously stacked on top. PCs say they are appropriately named since if you use one, actually get to your destination, and are alive you should praise god. There are also a lot of VWs, Audis and Peugeots, but they are all super old, really banged up, and barely functioning. I had my first taxi ride a few days ago and it was terrifying both because I thought the car was going to fall apart and Senegalese drivers are insane. Especially since they are sharing the road with horse drawn carriages called charretts, kids, animals, and mountains of trash.
I hope those were good answers to your questions and I will continue tomorrow. Send more questions in so I have something to write about!
And I just realized something horrible. It’s Ramadan so my family is having some special foods like bissap juice which is delicious but expensive. I just told my sister I loved it and asked if she made it, which she did. DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHH!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, that means she made juice from water out of the tap. Water, which if I want to drink it I need to purify and then bleach. So, I could be screwed aka up all night voming into a shit hole in the ground. Literally. I’m very, very afraid right now. If I am alive tomorrow and have not puked up all of my bodily organs I will write again. Wish me luck!
Messy, but Warm
8 months ago