Saturday, October 17, 2009


My first full day as a volunteer was exhausting. The main reason why I was exhausted is because we were all up until 4am last night. The first group left this morning at 7 and tomorrow most of the group will be leaving for Kadagou and Kaolack and then there will only be a handful of us left at the center.

It's starting to get really emotional. While I'm craving personal space and some freedom there is safety in numbers and not having my friends around to back me up when I'm getting harassed in the market, when I want to go home, or when I'm really bored and want to talk about home will be really hard. I just lived through my freshman year of college all over again except on a ridiculously condensed scale. Everyone has gotten really close. I know everything about my roommates right down to bodily functions. Hey, we get bored and need things to talk about and we are experiencing such drastic changes that they really do need to be discussed!

I’m scared to be out on my own. I’m going to have to negotiate my rent, utilities, buy my own food, and live my daily life. I’m an adult now. But, I’m an adult in African not the US. Interesting. The vast majority of people here are a few years out of school and have lived on their own. I’m a little intimidated about really being self-reliant for the first time… in Africa. Dad, don’t worry I still plan on not making any money for the next 5 years. I don’t want to be THAT independent.

Now for a rundown of today: Although I stayed up really late I was awake my 9am staring down the heinous challenge that is laundry. My fingers are now raw from scrubbing my clothes for 2 hours. I will commend myself on the best laundry job I’ve done so far in Senegal. I think things are almost clean, which is a vast improvement over dumping clothing into soapy water swooshing them around and calling it a day. Unfortunately, this evening I checked my clothes and they were mostly dry, but not dry enough. I don’t want Mango Flies burrowing into my body. I decided to leave them out and then it started to rain! And the rainy season is over. Everyone in my room immediately jumped up and ran outside to save our hard work. I was mostly successful, but now I have to hang everything back out in the morning. I can’t wait to get a laundry lady at site. Not only will it help me, but I’ll be putting money directly into the hands of a deserving woman (this is me rationalizing).

After laundry we headed into town to make appointments to get the internet installed (hey, I’m doing PC my way), which was a failure because the store was closed, then to lunch, and then to the market to do some shopping. We had grand plans to buy a lot of the things we will need at our site and it was a pretty big failure. PC doesn’t give us any type of pricing guide so I had no idea to what extent I was getting ripped off. While it’s not a big deal if I don’t get things before I move in since I live here, my friends did want to buy some basics since everything will be cheaper in Thies. I haggled a lot since I’m getting pretty good at numbers in Wolof, plus I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market and I’m not afraid to get up and walk away for a good price. I’m starting to get more and more comfortable in the markets and once I figure out prices I think it will be fun, at least for a while, to get out there.

I’m not sure about the furniture situation in my house yet, so I don’t know if I will have to go out and buy everything which would be a huge pain in the ass. I hope that there will be furniture there that I can purchase. I just want things to be easy and to move in and get settled as soon as possible. Having a home is going to be amazing.

My night was pretty chill. We made dinner at the center since now that we’re PCVs we are pretty much on our own and it was delicious. It was just pasta with pesto sauce and some tomatoes, but when you’re used to pasta that is boiled for an hour in a half water half oil mixture until it has the consistency of a paste once you get it in your mouth, some al dente pasta is like heaven on earth.

Tomorrow will be my last day at the center and my last day surrounded by the familiar. Just keep on keeping on…

Ps. I am actually going to change my address. Everything on route is fine and I will definitely get it, but I’m going to get my own box to make it easier for me and I will put up that address later this week! Thanks!


  1. You are uniquely equipped for this. Great language skills,business skills, cultural awareness, common sense. Believe in yourself. Take that leap and a net will appear.

  2. Biscreme count is up. Add yours.

  3. Alyssa,

    Only five more years, that is better than I was expecting! Keep your chin up and you will do great. Change can be scary but once you jump in everything will fall into place and you will set up a pleasant and relaxing new home.