Friday, October 23, 2009


October 20, 2009

I woke up this morning in a great mood because my fan was still whirling and blaring away and I could lay in bed for a while because, the encien volunteer who lives in Thies wasn’t coming to get me until 11. I literally just stared up at my ceiling fan, which I imagine will be a fairly regular activity for the next three months as I adjust, learn, and adapt to life “on my own” here in Senegal.

The morning was an adventure since the encien didn’t really know the way from my house to our office so we took an extremely long route in the heat that lead us pretty much back to where we started before we got our bearings and found the right path. At our work partners’ office my supervisor wanted me to dive right in next week and start some accounting workshops in nearby villages. I was game to start right away since I’m worried that all this free time that I’m supposed to be spending integrated into my family, Thies, and Senegal at large will actually make me exceedingly depressed and homesick. Although I was intimidated by the proposal, I said that I would look at the books I have an attempt to prepare something. This afternoon I went to the center and saw my APCD Nicole, who correctly told me this was a bad idea. Not only is it not too smart to test myself right now, but my work partner really wants me to teach the sessions because he can’t distribute some millet grinding machines without some elementary business training. When I go see him tomorrow, I’m going to try and create a compromise where Bamba, our business teacher, will come and teach the representatives from all 15 villages an accounting class. That way I can have a part in the training, while still observing and not having the major role. Nonetheless, this kind of just brought home and I’m going to be doing a lot of nothing these next few months. I’m definitely going to try and do several feasibility studies for future projects and hopefully start getting to know teachers at some local high schools that may need some help.

As we were leaving our work partners’ office, they offered me a ride back to my house. The encien volunteer had other errands and was going to walk, which I wanted to do because I do not know my way around yet, but I was pressured into taking the ride. The dropped me off on the side of the main road with some vague directions about how to get back to my house. This was a catastrophe. I accidentally got turned around by 90 degrees at a round a about and spent the next 45 minutes wandering around my quartier, trying to look like I was walking with purpose, as I put my sunglasses on to hide my sheer terror and desperation. By sheer luck I figured out my way and found the way back to my house. Thies is a big city without any street signs and my house is away from the center of town so there are very few landmarks. It’s really easy to get turned around as well since everything is dilapidated and beige. Instead of going all the way home, I called Tamar to see if she wanted to come see my place. In an effort not to get lost again I hailed a cab and went to pick Tamar up at the center.

This plan seemed to be genius since I could see the fastest route to the center, but as most adventures here things went downhill after we picked Tamar up and the cab got a flat tire. Unlike in the States, cabs don’t have meters here and you have to negotiate a fare before you get in the cab. Therefore, I had already told the cabbie what I would pay him for a roundtrip from my house to the center and back. Because we had nothing better to do and because I was already out money, Tamar and I decided to sit back and relax in the taxi while the driver fixed the tire. We were laughing that it was going to take an eternity, but miraculously it took less than 10 minutes and we were back at my house in no time!
We walked in just in time for some ceebu jenn and then spent the next couple of hours getting a Wolof lesion while we sat with my brothers drinking tea. It was really fun and felt good and fairly natural even though I knew that I had to take Tamar back to the center and say goodbye. Tamar has been akin to my right arm for the past 2 months. There is no way I could have made it through the home stays without her. Our daily questioning of our motives and ourselves on our walks to and from class were necessary and priceless. I definitely would have gone insane without her and now she’s going far away to live on an island! It sucks. We are already planning a Biskrem filled Thanksgiving, but I’m sure like the next 5 weeks are going to feel like an eternity since I have to spend every night at my site. It’s definitely going to be hard.

I’m finally on my own. A Peace Corps driver helped me buy and transport a mattress after I left the center and when he left my house, I definitely felt a slight sense of abandonment. No one is here to hold my hand anymore and that’s really scary. My current situation isn’t as overwhelming as the home stay, but it’s for 2 years. Wow. And I have to navigate for myself the next three months with no real direction. It will definitely be interesting… or maybe not interesting at all and just boring. I don’t know.

For the record: I still haven’t seen this baby. I think it was a lost in translation moment. I still at with the men and a knife and fork tonight and tomorrow I’m going to start it all over again.

I’m currently craving chicken tacos from a greasy fast food place in LA so everyone should go get some Mexican for me!

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