Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Day at the Beach

September 28/29

Only two things worth mentioning happened before I left my home stay village:
1. My devoutly Muslim cousin from Dakar who is still staying with us was wearing a HUGE belt buckle with a hologram of Jesus on it.
2. We were actually picked up ON TIME to go back to Thies. Yay!

Once we got back to Thies I had about 30 minutes to look for my swimsuit, check my email, and update my blog. It was surprising how efficient leaving for the beach was... the even was planned by two trainees though. We rented two Alhams (buses that have bench seating without seat belts and which can barely make it up hills) to take us directly to the beach.

We made an epic booze and food run before making it to the beach, but when we finally got there I almost forgot I was still in Africa. It was absolutely beautiful (pictures are up as proof). The beach house we rented was amazing and had western toilets and a full kitchen and a huge porch and the beach was beautiful and pristine.

After eating spaghetti Senegalese style from huge platters, we all jumped in the ocean and it was spectacular. It was literally the first time in several days that I have not been sweating. The last couple of nights I have had to wrap myself in a wet towel and fan myself to sleep. The heat has been really horrible so the ocean felt awesome even though it was luke warm. The sand on the beach is like powder and there are barely any shells and the bottom of the ocean is perfectly sandy as well so we pretty much stayed out in the ocean all night. I got out of the water around 2am and some people were even later than that.

Being in the ocean, under the stars, with my new friends, having fun was one of the moments when I could step back and look around and be happy that I am in Africa. It was amazing to be in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa. Who gets to do that? The African night sky is awe inspiring. I have spent many hours of my home stay staring up at the infinite sky here and it was even more spectacular as I was hanging out in the ocean. While I can see how some PCs are able to just take off and enjoy being in Africa and go with the flow, I'm still concerned about getting serious work done... although I will definitely be visiting Tamar and the other eco-tourism SED volunteers at their beautiful sites!

I had hoped that being near the ocean would mean a great night's sleep with a lovely breeze blowing over me, but that was naive. This is Africa. And it's always hot in Africa. I also had to sleep on a 2 inch phone mat with my friend Katherine. While that was slightly uncomfortable, it was worse not sleeping with a mosquito net because my lower legs are a complete disaster. Oh well. Being in the water made it totally worth it.

We woke up in the morning and made pancakes and played some more in the water and walked around on the beach. It was really relaxing being away from the home stay villages and Thies. Just getting out and seeing another part of Senegal and not having any PC staff around was great. I also reveled in the fact that I just really didn't care what happened. Other people stepped up to play mom for the sick people, clean up the house, and take care of the minutia that I would usually take care of at home. Instead, I took an extended lunch in town and had an amazing omelet with fries. Sweet.

I'm happy that I had a relaxing 24 hours because the rest of the week is going to be hell. This is week is the counterpart workshop where our work partners from all over the country will be staying at the center so we can do team building things together (my favorite activities) and this means that there isn't enough room to house all of us trainees at the center. The super far away home stay people get to stay at the center. I'm 45 minutes away and we were the next people that were going to get to stay at the center, but, obviously for me, I have to make the commute every day and eat dinner with my family. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so angry. It's so unfair and the last thing that I wanted. I plan on complaining bitterly about it to make myself feel better. I just have to push through these last 2.5 weeks and then I'll be done with the home stay village and this training hell and I can move on and make some decisions about my life here in Senegal for myself.


  1. Alyssa,

    The beach time looks like it was a wonderful diversion. The beach houses look very nice. How much did it cost to rent the car and the house for the night? I am guessing that it is a very cheap outing for the Americans. The pictures a great. Keep up the good work.


  2. Hi Alyssa,

    I have to ask... Isn't it kinda nice not to have to shave every day? Are you getting use to being hairy? I wouldn't want to shave even before the beach. Isn't there a saying once you go hairy you never go back (maybe not!) Letter on the way to you. Keep up the great work.