Friday, September 11, 2009

Adam, Ben, and Sarah THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Today was a terrible day until it turned into the best and most invigorating day I've had in Senegal.

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I am not staying in Thies for my village visit this would make too much sense and since this is PC it can't be done. To my absolute horror I discovered that I have to go back to my home stay village. Luckily, I get to live with the volunteer who I will be shadowing and not my family because I need a break from them right now. It was really hard to stomach though, going back to my home stay village, because everyone else is really excited about exploring a new city in Senegal and I'm going back to the one city I know only too well. And I really needed the pick me up and the excitement of a new adventure. Since it's basically impossible for me to control my emotions here I allowed myself to sink into a mini depression until I saw the one thing that will make every volunteer clap their hands in glee... a little pink slip in the mailbox! That's right! I got packages! Two of them... I was so excited.

At this point, I don't know who they are from but I do know I have a problem. The pink slip is from the post office and I have to give the slip with 1000 CFA ($2 USD) to get the package out of customs. The PC guy who gets the mail only goes once a day and I'm leaving tomorrow to go to my village visit. I immediately round up other people to go ask Amadou, the mail guy, if he will go back to the post office for us since we are leaving. I give him my best pouty face and ask really sweetly if he will go get them. He wont. DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was about to break down into tears. He told me I only had to wait another four days until I came back from the village visit to get them... unacceptable.

The session for this afternoon was just prep for our visits so I was assuming it would get over early. Obviously the meeting started over 1.5 hours late and then the head of the center only read off a piece of paper information that had already given to us before. I was irate, but I had time!

I go back to Amadou and ask him for my slip back... I'm going to the damn post office. He tells me to just wait, the post office closes in 45 min (I'll never make it), I don't know where it is, and they will charge me more to get it out of customs because I'm a toubab. I didn't care. I snatched the paper out of his hand and took off.

While it's been cool the last couple of days, today was not one of those days and the sun was out and it's hot. I'm walking down the road and I know that it's near the Place de France. I vaguely know where that is. I get to the Place de France and no post office. I ask some people and they point me in a direction. I ask another group of people and they tell me I'm right and that the post office is just across the street. Victory! I see two men in uniform and I think I've found the holy grail of mail only to talk to them and discover I'm at a bank. NO! It's now 4:20 and the bank closes at 4:30. I ask them where the bank is after greeting them (as is required) for what seems like 3948587 hours and then they tell me it's further down the road next to a gas station. They then ask me if I know what time it is since the post office is closing soon. Yeah, thanks.

I'm jogging down this street and people are looking at the beat red, sweaty toubab, but I keep going. I cannot find this gas station so I stop to ask a group of guys where it is. They look at me like I'm even dumber than people usually look at me and they tell me that I'm at the gas station. Interesting... there are no gas pumps or a sign, just some holes in the group. Obviously, this is a gas station. Anyways, the post office is right next door and it's OPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I enter the post office and ask two men about my packages. They lure me into a small room where I was sure I would meet certain death only to tell me that they don't handle the packages, it's down the hall. Great. I walk down the hall and the package window is still open... and will be for another half hour. The post office is open until 5, go figure. I give them my slip, my Peace Corps ID, and speak to them completely in Wolof, which they understand and they tell me I'm awesome and that I have a Puular name, which is weird since I'm learning Wolof. Whatever. They don't over charge me and I leave with TWO PACKAGES!!!!!!!!!!! VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was an amazing feeling taking my life into my own hands and getting what I wanted. I was not leaving those packages in Thies. I needed them. Go me!

The packages were from my mom who sent me an amazing amount of food (I'm currently inhaling the dried apples, they are divine) and my Kogelschatz cousins! Yay! I was so happy to get the candy, the magazines, and the glorious US quality toilet paper. That will definitely be put to good use! The letters inside were also amazing. Letters are like gold here and I have a little folder I carry them in all the time so when I break down 5 times a day I can take them out and read them. I'm so happy that I got your packages and that you took the time to pick out all the stuff. I love jelly beans and sweedish fish! Good choices!

Now that I have my packages I feel like I can go back to my home stay village even though I'm not happy about it. I will be staying with the volunteer which is good and he does really interesting work exporting baskets to the US. It will be really cool to see a volunteer in action and hopefully give me a sense of purpose since I've just been sitting in class the past month. OMG I've been in Africa a month. Ridiculous.

Well, this is a super long post and I need to go eat dinner and then go partake in some alcoholic beverages. To answer Lindsay's question: No, unfortunately, I have yet to find a sharkbowl in Africa although to Kaitlyn's delight one of my roommates has already had the hangover of her life off some cheap African whiskey. I'm keeping to the pints of Gazelle beer myself.

I'm off to the village for a few days so look back on Wednesday for new posts!

Have fun until then.


Ps. Thanks again Kogelshcatz's for the package. It was amazing!


  1. Alyssa,

    Did you carry the packages on your head based on the African style or the boring American style?


  2. Alyssa,
    I was in one of the guys rooms down the hall from me and he had a bunch of quotes up and one was in a language I had never seen before. I asked him about it and he said it was in Wolof and that he wants to go study in Senegal. I was so excited that I knew 1. what language Wolof was and 2. where Senegal was. I told him that he may wanna read your blog before he decides to move there for few months :)
    Hope everything is going well,

  3. Hi Cristina
    I love you and miss you! My son is an idiot!!!!I hope Hope is awesome and you are meeting wonderful people!
    All my love

  4. Alyssa,

    I'm glad that your post will allow you to do what you went to Senigal to do. I can't imagine the highs and lows of your emotional roller-coaster.

    Karen & Mark's wedding was amazing. We had a great time and danced the night away. Even Uncle Wayne danced (I think)!

    Now we are chilling and recollecting ourselves. I really need that now! Keep the information coming... I hope the news is great.


    PPS That post isn't really from Roy Orbison, it's from Lynn Hoenke.

  6. Alyssa, on behalf of your cousins you are welcome. I am glad your assignment is turning out well(er).

    A few years ago I read a book about Muhammad Yunis. He started a microfinance company in India and went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize. It is a great book. It is amazing the effect that micro lenders can have on a community.

    We remain proud of you in Rockford. Have fun.

    - - Uncle Rich

  7. Hey lyssa,
    yes I realize that this post is like a month old and that you have since moved on from the awesomeness of your postal victory but I'm bound and determined to read every single post i have missed over the last few weeks and catch the midnight showing of Where the Wild Thing are tonight and not touch a single book. In defence of my not writing and to assauge my guilt I feel an explaination of the last four weeks of my life is in order.
    First I was Sick as a Dog and high on cough syrup. It wasn't swine flu though (I got tested... my roomies threatened to lysol me into my room if I didn't). Then I had four midterms and SIX separate lab reports. And finally there was mandatory camping with my kayaking class that lead to me going down an entire class 3 water fall, from the top, upsidedown.
    So yeah sorry for the radio silence.