September 1, 2009
Yay! It’s September which means I made it through month one even if month one was really only 2.5 weeks. I get to celebrate. This has been hard. To commemorate my 2.5 weeks of hardship, I was granted a good day. I’ve been thinking about what a good day for me is here. And today was good mainly because nothing really terrible happened. Hey, everything’s relative right?
Class was more interesting than usual and I feel like I learned a lot and wasn’t too bored. Awesome. We also were visited by the PCVs who run the Gender and Development (GAD) program here. They gave us their little presentation and they do really cool things. Each year about 65 girls receive a scholarship for school that the Peace Corps collects and runs and the volunteers get to interview all the girls and then nominate the ones they feel are the most deserving. The GAD volunteers were accompanied by Awa our home stay coordinator who conducted interviews with our family’s to see how we are doing. I have to say I was a little nervous since my first week here was so rocky and my mom and I didn’t really seem to get along, but I got a rave review and it really lifted my spirits. Everything is getting easier now that I’ve started adjusting to the heat and I’m picking up Wolof. But, again it’s all relative and while it’s getting a little easier it’s still incredibly difficult and exhausting. I collapse into bed every night. And speaking of bed, last night I had to use a sheet for warmth and it was 80 degrees. I can never move back to Michigan now, I will freeze 11 months out the year!
Tamar and I also made a little trip to the tailor. Tamar’s mother’s brother is a tailor and we are having some sweet African clothes made. We bought the fabric in Thies and he’s drawing us up some designs tonight so we can approve them tomorrow. I don’t want to give too much away without pictures, but I’m getting a traditional skirt called a pagne in Michigan blue and gold and a dress in an amazing print, which is sure to come out crazy in some African fashion. I will put up pictures ASAP. It’s impossible to leave my fashionista ways at home so hopefully some African garb will lift my spirits/ make me look even more ridiculous to the people in my town.
Speaking of looking ridiculous, the Peace Corps gave the trainees in my town bikes since we live a long way from each other and school and I rode my bike today because going to Tamar’s house, the tailor, and making it back before break the fast for Ramadan was a challenge. Image the site of me on a bike, in a dress, with my messenger bag, a helmet that doesn’t fit, speeding down the sand roads of my home stay village. Let me tell you, it was quite a site and everyone told me so. The cries of toubab and the laughter that ensued when people say me was pretty funny even though I was sweating and trying not to fall of the bike when I ran into huge sand pits. My family found it equally as hilarious when I got back to the compound. Me on a bike was just too funny for them. As nice as the bike is, it’s also a huge hassle because children and adults demand that I give them my bike. It’s really annoying. When I’m on the bike, not only am I asked for money, to take people’s children to the US, and asked for my hand in marriage, but I’m also constantly heckled for the bike. Ah!
I think that’s all that’s new from the village. Oh, other than the fact that my dad is giving me health advice. We have three dates each for part of our break the fast and today he told me they were good for constipation. Let me tell you, I have no problems with constipation. He’s also obsessed with honey and has a book all about how good it is for you. He got out a huge bottle of honey to put on his bread, didn’t offer any to anyone else and then gave me a smaller bottle to keep in my room. All of the good food is kept in my parents’ bedroom so no one else can eat it. I did feel guilty today because we usually have lentils, beans, or tuna on our bread for break the fast, but today my family didn’t have enough money and we just had bread and dates. It’s hard to hear that since my PC stipend, even as a trainee when it’s less, is probably more than my family makes in a month. Regardless, we eat well… except that I’m having ceebu jenn (fish and rice) again for dinner. It’s definitely part of the reason why I smell so bad and the redundancy of the food is killing me. I’m definitely going to cook dinner for myself when I get to post.
Haha, that is if I like my site announcement. It’s still a struggle here and although today was a good day, how many good days am I going to have and are they enough? I think I hope so.
Eat a salad for me.
Messy, but Warm
10 months ago