Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Jackie!

September 30, 2009

As my only friend who has made a trip to Africa, Happy Birthday and congratulations on surviving you trip. You rock my world and I hope #23 is good to you. I wish I was there to celebrate.

But, I am in fact in Senegal. And because I’m in Senegal I had a semi-ridiculous day. Last night I got to sleep in the center and while my roommates were up all night and one of my friends even took out their computer to discover there was 89% humidity, I slept like a baby due to absolute exhaustion and Tylenol PM. I actually woke up refreshed for the first time in a while only to be greeted on Skype by Matt eating chicken wings and a pizza. Yeah, that’s love. It really bothers some of my friends to hear about home; what people are doing, eating, and friends seeing each other makes people here more homesick, but it makes me feel more connected. I want to stay in the loop! Even if I ate mystery meat the night before and my stomach is growling for breakfast as my boyfriend gorges on pizza and wings. My only solace was that it was Domino’s and I don’t really like Domino’s.

This morning class was all about preparing for our counterpart workshop which starts tomorrow. Therefore, the center was pretty much chaos and there was lots of running around, directions being shouted in many languages, and general confusion. I worked on translating the goals of the SED program with another boy and we will be some of the first presenters tomorrow. The SED workshops will be in French since that is the common language and the language of business. As volunteers’ counterparts started arriving throughout the afternoon, I went into town to buy fabric for a sweet outfit that I will wear at swearing-in and surfed the internet since my counterparts aren’t staying at the center and I’ll meet them tomorrow. I really enjoyed the afternoon off, especially since I’ve been banished back to my home stay village for the nights. Grrr.

While I’m not happy about commuting back and forth, going back to the vil is getting less and less disagreeable. As my language really starts to progress, it’s easier to bond with my family and especially with my mom. She definitely felt left out at the beginning when everyone had to communicate in French with me and she doesn’t understand French. Now, although I can carry on simple conversations in Wolof, my dad will get frustrated and revert to French, but since my mom doesn’t have that option she will sit and work with me to figure out the correct word or context. I’m also starting to enjoy my siblings more, but we still aren’t a close family.

In town I forgot to get my family a small gift, which is traditional when you’ve been away, and my cousins came to rescue! I’ve been saving the delicious jelly beans they sent me for a special occasion and tonight they provided me with absolute hilarity. I brought the candy out after dinner as a present and my family was very confused. The different colors mixed together was just too much and they demanded that we take one of each color out so I could explain each flavor. Now, everyone in the US understands what “Cool Blue” would taste like… it would taste like blue candy. Well, that’s impossible to explain here as is black licorice. I told everyone that I really like the pink and the red flavors and that black licorice is just plain bad. My mom, taking another food related dig at me, said that I don’t like a lot of things (not true, I eat whatever is put in front of me) and proceeded to put several black ones in her mouth. She chewed for a second and then proceeded to spit them out. I couldn’t help myself from laughing it was hilarious. She agreed that they were disgusting as I had described them. Victory Alyssa! They really liked the candy aka it’s sugar and Senegalese people love sugar and it was a fun night time activity. Thanks again!

That’s pretty much it from the vil. It’s ridiculously hot still so I might have to sleep in my favorite new pajamas… aka a wet towel wrapped around my body which I then fan to cool myself down while I watch Gossip Girls. Doesn’t that sound like how you want to fall asleep?

All kidding aside, I am starting to actually be able to tell that I’m adapting to life here in Senegal. Yes, the heat is terrible, but I can deal with it now. We had pasta with fish balls and 9876753467 gallons of oil tonight for dinner, a meal I usual can’t stomach, and I ate so much my mom didn’t even yell at me when I got up from the bowl. I also didn’t flinch when a cock roach crawled out of the squat toilet to greet me. Maybe I can do this after all.

Hope all is well at home. I hear a lot of mail is on it’s way! I can’t wait. Letter writing is a great way to past time here so send me your address and I’ll send you a sweet Senegalese post card!



  1. Your African mother at least has some good taste, black licorice is terrible. What did she think of the other colors, or was she unwilling to try any of the others.


  2. Dominos..... Ugh. This is very very disappointing to hear, especially for a kid who was brought up on Aiellos and Mineos. Maybe there isn't any good zah on the left coast, but that's still no excuse for Dominos.

  3. Whoops, forgot this link for the "story"...

  4. Thanks for the birthday wishes Alyssa! I had a really fun time on my birthday and of course have lots of ridiculous stories for you, but I will save them for the letter I'm writing you. So get ready!

    Glad you are settling in to African life. It's a good thing you eat everything, that would be hard for me to cope. I love reading your blog and looking at all your pictures when I'm bored at work. You are the bestest!

    And you're right, Dominos sucks. I could do for some Cottage Inn right about now :-)

  5. Yes, I know Dominos is terrible. It was late and the local place was closed (long day at work)! Not as good as reeses pieces cereal I guess...

  6. Of course not! Reeses Pieces cereal is only the greatest modern invention of man