Monday, November 30, 2009

Tournee Day 1: Fatick and Keur Madiabel

I'm spoiled. Before today I had never left the Thies/ Dakar region and now my eyes have been opened to how most other people live. I complain about my sept-place rides from Thies to Dakar. There are no stops in between and it's always possible to get a car. Haha. That's the Thies/ Dakar region that doesn't exist in other places. While the road from Thies to Fatick is pretty much as good as the road from Thies to Dakar, the road from Fatick into Kaolack and the surrounding areas aren't roads. They are giant sink holes surrounded by thin strips of asphalt.

Fatick was our first stop and felt just a hop and a skip away from Thies since I passed out in the back of the car. In Fatick we met a volunteer and I watched, Talla (one of the SED teachers) give a formation on pricing. It was very interesting to watch him. He's actually quiet charismatic, this could also be because I found it almost impossible to look away from his awesome fedora, and really engaged the women in the lesson. I served as honorary paper taper-uper, which is an incredibly important job if I may say so myself. I also took pictures, which will be up at a later date. The portion of the formation that I actually enjoyed the most was Talla's description of Peace Corps. He really emphasized the fact that we are here for an exchange of knowledge, not cash. He talked about PC philosophy for a couple of minutes, which I thought was really good and cool. The formation in Fatick went well and the women had a lot of good questions. They were also all there when we arrived aka we were actually late as were they so it all cancelled out.

Next up, the drive to Kaolack, which was terrible. The scenery was pretty awesome since we drove over some salt flats and while there are less baobab trees than there are around Thies, there are a lot of Neem trees and other shrubbery. I just wish there was big game to look at too. Entering Kaolack was like entering a major city after the apocalypse. I remembered how overwhelmed I was the first time we walked around Thies. Thies now looks like paradise. I used to think that Thies had a ton of trash all over it. Haha. Kaolack is literally a dump. There is trash everywhere and while Thies has tree lines boulevards, Kaolack has trash... Granted I haven't really been able to explore the city. There are also huge salt plants and ships that export the salt to other countries. We ate a quick lunch in Kaolack (I had a chwarma with actual pita instead of a baguette!) and then made our way to Keur Madiabel, which is a small village outside of Kaolack.

We had to take a bush road to get there because the main road is being "paved." Supposedly this has been a multiple year process and about 5k of the 40 has been completed. Keur Madiabel looks like a lot of other small villages that I went to with Diof for formations, but dirtier. We arrived at 3pm, which was, unfortunately, the same time the volunteer had told the women the formation started at. 2 women arrived at 3:20 and women kept trickling in until 4:20, but we eventually had a full house and I think the formation went well, but not as good as the first one because the majority of these women were illiterate. One of the women could only write in Arabic, which I thought was pretty cool and we talked a little bit. Her husband is Arab, but she wouldn't tell me where he was from.

Riding back into Kaolack, the Peace Corps car dropped me off at the regional house where I could not open the door in another brilliant show of my burgeoning ineptitude so I left my bags with the guard and navigated my way in the darkening twilight (don't worry mom, I'm still alive) to meet a few volunteers for dinner and drinks. After being harassed in a clando (taxi where multiple people share) and paying a ridiculous fee to have the cab driver drop me off at the restaurant I arrived in one piece mildly terrified, but alive and ready for a beer. Hey, every day is an adventure here.

This is day 1 of my tournee and I'm already in awe of what other volunteers live with and I haven't been to a remote site. I could not do what they do. They are amazing. I'm definitely excited to see more, but that's knowing that I get to go back to the safety and comforts of Thies. My family is right when they say Thies is the best place in Senegal. I'm definitely starting to appreciate my site more and more after the initial disappointment of staying in the same place.

Tomorrow is going to be a long, long day. We are visiting a boy in my stage, doing a formation at a second year's site, and spending the night in a third town. Sleeping in the back of the Land Rover sounds like a good plan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Tamar and I walked around Thies today and were greeted by the smell of rotting sheep hides. Delightful. As I described my family digging a hole for the sheep to bleed into, everyone else did the same. It was necessary to pay a little extra attention to make sure you didn't step into a hole filled with sheep's blood and guts since most of the holes hadn't been covered yet. While navigating around holes, I also attempted to avert my eyes from hides draped over dirty buckets (aka garbage cans) and stretched out on the ground to dry. Other than goat remnants everywhere the streets of Thies were almost eerily quiet and empty. Actually, it was a welcome respite.

Tamar left this afternoon to visit Jackie because I'm going on a tournee tomorrow. I'm going to go with Talla (one of my business teachers) on a week long trip around Senegal to watch him do business lessons for women's groups and video tape the formations so other volunteers can watch them at our training in February. I'm pretty excited since I haven't been out of the Thies/ Dakar region and I'll get to see a bunch of other volunteers. It should also, hopefully, be interesting and informative. Regardless, Tamar left this afternoon which was definitely sad. It was fun having her for Tabaski.

My day was very quiet. The most ridiculous thing that happened was when I was taking down my laundry so I could fold it and pack for my trip my mom asked me if I knew how to fold clothes. I answered affirmatively, but this obviously didn't matter so she folded them for me. I'm worthless. Oh well.

Oh! I almost forgot. Shout out to Shirley and Leigh! I just got letters from both of you today when I went to the center! Shirley, your letters are always amazing and Leigh, the Cosmo collage was fantastic. I hung it up! And for future notice, I got these letters late because they were sent to the PC box and then had to find me. My new address is on my blog. No worries and keep the letters coming!

Since I'm going on this tournee, my posting may be sporadic so have a good week!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tabaski/ Happy Birthday Dad

There's nothing like waking up after a good night's sleep to a sheep slaughter. Today is the day that my family has been talking about since I arrived here almost 6 weeks ago. After breakfast, Tamar and I were just leaving my bungalow when we saw a singular sheep tied outside the pen. He was panicking and bleating to the other sheep inside the pen. It was pretty obvious he knew what was about to happen...

I have been a little nervous about watching the sheep slaughter, but it wasn't as gory or gross as I thought it would be. I thought there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance surrounding the sheep, but all the men went about their business matter of factly and laughed as Tamar and I oohed and ahhed and took pictures from a distance. They dug a small hole in the sand and then my three brothers held the sheep on the ground with its head in the hole as my dad cut its throat. The blood didn't spurt out violently like in a horror movie as I imagined it, but there were death rattles and spasms which were a little hard to watch.

After letting the blood drain into the hole for a few minutes my brothers carried the goat into the tiled section of our compound, put it on a plastic tarp, and expertly butchered it. Tamar and I were really impressed at how quickly and knowledgeably my brothers were able to butcher the sheep. I've posted a bunch of pictures so take a look, some of them may be slightly graphic if you're squeamish.

As my brothers butchered the sheep, Tamar and I helped Khady cut onions. We are both terrible at cutting onions in our hands especially since we were using my sharp knives. Most of my family's knives are so dull you can barely chop anything. After nicking myself I told Khady I would peel the potatoes since I have a peeler and can do it much quicker than they can. Tamar kept cutting onions since she's much better at it then me. Unfortunately, as I threw a potato into the "finished" bucket my finger ran into Tamar's knife. I blame this completely on her by the way... My entire family freaked out, but it's just a little cut and I put a band-aid on it. Now my family thinks I'm fairly inept at almost every task known to man, except reading and they just think that's weird.

During a lull in the action, as a vat on onions mixed with a gallon of oil simmered away, Tamar and I made no-bake cookies to share with my family. They were very skeptical about how they would taste. Jeenaba, again, refused to try American food but my mom and my dad took two and other people seemed to like them so that was a success. At least we made a contribution and I think they appreciated that.

Lunch was the big meal of the day and while really good and out of the norm, it wasn't the feast I was expecting or the type of feast we had in my home stay town for Korite (another big Muslim holiday). I guess this is because we are going to be eating the sheep all week, but as usual I don't really know what's going on! There was a really good and spicy mustard sauce which I'm going to attempt to request for future meals...

By far the highlight of the day was getting our make-up done. My sister Mamy is a hair and make-up genius and she made Tamar and I up for the holiday. It was awesome. Mamy spends hours everyday doing her make-up, her hair, and everyone else's beauty routines as well. She's great. And she went all out for us. My eye shadow matching my outfit perfectly was excellent, but the pounds of eye liner and blush all over my face just really took it to the next level. I loved it. And she's awesome at doing head wraps! Apparently there are a ton of different styles and she gave Tamar and I different wraps. I would describe Tamar's as Senegalese badass/ Oragami, while mine was more Senegalese boho. Both were amazing. Check out the pictures. We also watched Khady get an extremely intricate hair weave, which was time consuming, but surprisingly tasteful.

After getting all dolled up, we went out with my brother Petit to see his friends. The first two houses we went to were nice and we chit chatted and exchanged pleasantries, but the third was a long stay and I kind of feel like a hostage when I go out, can't get back by myself, and then they just tell me I'm tired or hungry and that they'll take me home. Actually, I'm bored and a little annoyed usually, but it wasn't too bad and being with Tamar made it a lot better. It definitely didn't ruin the day and I'm happy that we went out so we could see everyone else's clothes, make-up, and sheep carcasses.

Tabaski was definitely interesting and fun. I really enjoyed hanging out with my family and Tamar and I hope that we helped at least a little bit with the food preparation. I'm pretty sure we were entertaining to watch as we watched the sheep being butchered. Tabaski continues tomorrow and Jeenaba has promised me that she is wearing the most amazing outfit ever... so that's definitely something to look forward to!

Check out all the pictures! And happy birthday dad! I hope that you had a delicious meal at the club. I had roasted lamb with fries, onion sauce, and LETTUCE, which was delectable, but I could totally go for a ceasar salad, burger, and pecan dream from the club!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Blues

I haven't heard the 5am call to prayer in months because I'm so used to it, but this morning I woke up to my alarm clock at the same time as call to prayer. Not fun. In an attempt to get back to our sites for Tabaski, an important Muslim holiday starting tomorrow, we got up around 5:30 so in order to be at the garage early and make sure we could get cars back to Thies. Surprisingly, it only took three hours to get back and we made it so it was great.

Tamar and I spent the day in a daze because we were incredibly tired from the trip and waking up so early. We made an absolutely amazing dinner courtesy of my mom. We had some pasta pesto, tomatoes, onions, and some great cheese we got at the toubab store! It was great and we topped it off with some boxed wine and a movie in my room. It was really nice and relaxing. We need our rest to watch some goat slaughter tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the Muslim holiday that I've been talking about. It's called Tabaski and I am too lazy to describe it to everyone so you can check it out on Wikipedia:

Also, I'm sad it's black Friday and I have done no shopping. It's terribly sad. I miss JCrew and all other sales happening today. Please purchase many beautiful and shiny things in my honor.

Ps. Shout out to Shirley for sending another letter! Thank you!

The Highlights

Tuesday November 24th: Day 1 Dakar

Getting to Dakar was an adventure. Jackie and I left Thies with ridiculously amazing chicken sandwiches, which we bought from a vendor at the garage, in hand and navigated to the correct garage in Dakar. Seemless, but from there it went to hell. The taxis were attempting to charge us 3 times the normal fare so a very nice woman told us a rickety bus was going in our direction which was only 100CFA while the cab was going to be 3000CFA. Needless to say, we were pretty pleased with ourselves until my life flashed before my eyes as our bus stalled on an on-ramp, then the driver proceeded to reverse through three lanes of traffic, and then drop 2 feet on to the shoulder which was precariously close to a sewage ravine. Jackie and I locked eyes as the bus jilted to one side and made peace with death, but the bus remained upright although broken and now in a trench. We exited the bus, ran behind a nice man through 4 lanes of highway traffic (with huge backpacks), and got in another bus and finally made it to the regional house in Dakar. Katherine and Tamar thought we died, but we eventually made it. A little adventure and near death experience never hurt anyone.

The regional house has real showers so that was pretty much priority number 1 for me after sweating on public transportation for several hours. I jumped in and noticed that there were two knobs on the shower. The two knobs registered in my mind, but their meaning did not... I therefore took a cold shower while all of my friends took warm showers because they're smarter than me and remembered that the red knob means hot water... Don't worry, the rest of my showers were warm. It was awesome.

Our first night we satisfied my main craving: Chinese food. We knew a popular restaurant to go to, we had the phone number, the directions, and a cab, but we couldn't get there. If our cab driver hadn't been amazing and spoken to the restaurant for several minutes on the phone I would have been deprived of the pan fried noodles, Szechuan tofu, and calamari I inhaled. It was an interesting experience since the waitress didn't speak French, Wolof, or English... only Chinese. It was point and hope for the best and it turned out delectable.

Wednesday November 25: Day 2
We went to the office in the morning. I'm now vaccinated against swine flu and the regular flu.

From the office we walked to Casino, which is a Western style grocery store where I was struck with how amazing a full service grocery store truly is. Instead of making me homesick for what I could have at home, the grocery store made me incredibly happy and I perused every single aisle with my mouth open in wonder and desire. We left the grocery store with dark chocolate, Brie, and WHOLE WHEAT BREAD. The cheese and the bread was delicious. After so much white bread the whole wheat was a real treat especially with the cheese. We devoured it at the American club with salads!

We also went out in Dakar for the first time, which was really fun. A few Gazells/ Flags (Senegalese beers) always put you in a good mood and it's the biggest bar night of the year in the States so it was a show of American solidarity.

Thursday November 26: Day 3

Happy Thanksgiving! And happy birthday Aunt Cindy!

I was surprised at how emotional I got especially since I hadn't allowed myself to think about missing my first major holiday. It turned out to be an amazing day.

The US Ambassador invited the PCVs to her house for dinner, but we were called upon to make the side dishes. I obviously signed up to make Shirley's famous mashed potatoes which turned out perfection and which every said were really good. We made them at the head of the SED program's house along with another treat...the funfetti cupcakes my mom sent me! All of my friends were pumped about the cupcakes even though the Halloween theme was a little late. It's not easy to find an oven here... We all agreed the making some food on Thanksgiving was cathartic and really fun. It made it feel more like Thanksgiving, having a lot of women in the kitchen, even though it was an incredibly hot day outside. It's easy to trick yourself into not believing it's the holiday season when the weather is so opposite to what I would expect at home.

The Ambassador's house was wonderful. I got to see a bunch of PCVs from all over the Dakar region and the Ambassador had festively decorated the house with fall colors and Thanksgiving paraphernalia, which actually made it feel like Thanksgiving at home. The turkey was good, the potatoes AMAZING (if I may say so myself), and I was incredibly impressed with all the other PCVs resourcefulness and cooking skills. It was no Thanksgiving at home, but it was wonderful and very fun. I heard that Sarah made Mexican dip and a delicious blueberry crisp so that's almost impossible to beat.

Dakar was very, very fun. It was great to see other volunteers and Tamar. Back to Thies for Tabaski!

Ps. New Pictures are up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Runs in the Family

I haven't been sleep well so all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day and read, but I dragged myself out of bed and I'm glad I did. When I opened my door I was greeted by a beautiful site... all of my family's water containers were full! Yay! So I took a bucket bath, pounded a Cliff bar, grabbed my bike and headed off to Dioss' gallery. He wanted to take to a school to see if I could do any type of IT class or something. I can't say that I was super excited to go to another school about the possibility of teaching another IT class, but Dioss has been so nice and he really wanted to take me there so I didn't know how to say no.

Once we got to the school I was equally impressed with how excited the principal and the teachers were that I was there. The principal and the president of the PTA both told me how happy I had come and that they were really excited to work with me. They were pretty effusive, which is always a good feeling. It is an elementary school and I will start going next week after Thanksgiving and Tabaski. The best part of the morning was walking around with Dioss after visiting the school. This parents live close by so we went to visit.

Everyone in Dioss' family is an artist and his parents' house is some kind of tropical paradise where I almost forgot that I was in Senegal. The compound has not only buildings, but a beautiful thatch roof hut and banana trees and a palm tree and an absolutely amazing gallery. While Dioss either does abstract work or the scenes of African women, his dad does very abstract African scenes and some Arabic language religious artwork. The abstract African themed work is amazing. He uses really bright colors and it's very geometric, but at the same time very fluid. It's awesome. He paints with oil paints on canvas, tin, and wood. He also does Arabic calligraphy on wood and tin which is awesome. He works it into African scenes and it's really cool.

After visiting Dioss' parents we went to his brother's gallery down the street. While Dioss and his dad both use really bright colors and are painters, his brother does mixed media pieces. I was immediately drawn to a sculpture that was a bunch of teapots suspended on a pipe covered in a papermache type substance and then painted. His work is very cool, but slightly darker than the rest of his family's paintings. It was very interesting to see the different ateliers. Dioss has started to take me around to meet other artists because he was just elected president of an artists' association in Thies and he wants to start a website to showcase all of their work. We've been talking about how we can make one together. Today some of my fears about its future sustainability were laid to rest when he told me that he wanted to do it step by step so he could run everything by himself. His parents also have the newest computer I've seen in Senegal and an internet connection so I'm very hopefully that this could be an awesome project. At the very least I'll get to go around to all these different artists and take pictures which will be really fun.

This afternoon I went to Keur Yaay as planned but no one was there and I waited for about half and hour and called a couple people and no one answered so I don't know what's up with that. I came home and cleaned my room in preparation for Tamar coming! Yay!

Tamar coming means I am on my way to Dakar tomorrow to meet up with a bunch of volunteers in my region to celebrate Thanksgiving. Up until today I've been able to live in complete denial that I wont be at home for the holidays this year. I am excited to see everyone and I will be getting a real Thanksgiving meal which will definitely be nice, but it will be sad not to be at home. Dakar will be fun and then Tabaski right after with Tamar. All good things.

Happy early Thanksgiving to everyone at home. Until Friday...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I took the liberty to stay in my room until almost noon today and lay in bed reading the entire Vanity Fair that the McKeown's sent me while eating a Cliff bar. It was pretty great. My family was pretty mellow as well so my morning and afternoon passed without much activity.

Lunch brought a return of ceebu jenn! Thank god! Although it was actually a slightly different dish that instead of a fresh fish has dried fish bits and beans, I was still very happy that we were back to Senegal's national dish. I used to be a foodie. This will get even sadder later in this post...

I don't believe that I have mentioned my family has been without water for the past 48 hours. We are rationing water which means no bathing, only drinking and cooking and it sucks. Since Jackie left her sunglasses at the center, I had an excuse to go and take a really good REAL SHOWER! It was amazing. I conditioned my hair for the first time since coming to site and felt really clean. I definitely need to start taking more showers at the center. It is a delicious treat.

Since I was already in the neighborhood and I promised my tutor that I would stop by today, I had about a two hour tutoring session, which went really well. We discussed the differences between boys and girls' interactions in Senegal and the US. I brought it up since a couple of days ago when I was riding my bike I had seen one of my tutors' friends and been really rude to him. I was riding along and this man on a bike came up to me and started asking me all these questions. It is my policy to just ignore men or ask them to leave me alone and that's what I did since I didn't recognize him until I thought about it later that day. My tutor told me not to worry since he had already told his friend not to bother me and we got into a really good discussion about the differences between our two cultures. It was interesting to hear his perspective especially since he was spot on about American women. I will devout a later blog post to how Senegalese men constantly hit on me when I've had a boring day sometime in the future.

Sundays mean my family is going to have some rice or millet with cream and sugar combination. While none of these dishes taste bad, they do give me a stomach ache because they are 90% sugar and I'm a savory girl. Give me a salt lick over a sugar cube any day. Plus with the amount of tea I drink and everything else I want to cut down on the sugar as much as possible. Therefore, I've told my family that I want to cook for myself every Sunday since I have the time. Today, I ripped open one of the Indian dinners my grandma sent me yesterday. It was AMAZING. I will admit that in the US I was a food snob. Throughout college I would take an hour or two to create, eat, and clean up dinner rather than succumb to the ease of Lean Cuisines and the like, much to the dislike of my roommates. Now, I can eat anything... and like it. The Indian food was a completely new flavor profile for me and it was so satisfying.

When I cook it's quite a spectacle so I usually wait until everyone has moved inside so I can do it in peace. Little Ahmed took the liberty of alerting all the women today who came to see and critique my technique. The package was just some curry which I was eating with some bread. I thought there was a chance that my family would actually like it... I was incredibly wrong. My mom actually tried it and told me she liked it, but was obviously lying. I then asked Jeenaba and Deenba if they would like to try it. Deenba lied and told me she was full even though I know she hadn't eaten dinner yet and Jeenaba told me to my face that American food is terrible and she doesn't know why I would ever want to make it now that I've had Senegalese food. So much for cross cultural exchange.

Regardless, I'm very happy that I had some Indian food and that I had a relaxing day. This coming week will be a short one with Thanksgiving and Tabaski and Tamar coming! Yay!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The First Hundred Days

I've been in Senegal for one hundred days. Wow. It doesn't feel like I've been gone that long, but at the same time I feel like I've been away an eternity. And if anyone posts how many days I have left I'll kill you. Looking back I can't believe I'm still here. It is a testament to how truly stubborn and masochistic I am that I didn't get on the plane the countless number of times I wanted to quit during PST. Now that the once omnipresent self doubt has dissipated, I'm really happy I stayed. Since getting to site, I've really hit my stride and I've been able to create some semblance of a life for myself here. I'm sure that there will be many more times when I think I'm a complete crazy person for coming and times when I want to go home and times when I will need to lock myself in my room and gorge on all the goodies people have sent me while watching a complete season of The Office, but I think I can handle the roller-coaster as long as I don't find myself in the two month long purgatory of PST.

That said, day 100 did not disappoint.

The main topic of conversation last night was actually bodily functions, not the greater subject of personal happiness. All PCVs have devolved into kindergarteners and lost all sense of personal boundaries when it comes to anything health related. Discussing bowel movements and all myriads of gross sickness and rashes is common table discussion and much like talking about the weather back at home. Well, sometimes in Africa you just have to go and that happened to me this morning so I ran out of bed and began filling a tea-pot of water so I could go to the bathroom. While I'm doing this, little Ahmed runs out pantsless, but with a shirt and gives me a mischievous grin. I can tell he has to pee too and he's thinking about cutting me in line. He runs toward the bathroom and then stops near the animal pens where the ground is dirt instead of tile, puts in hands on his hips, arcs his back, and laughs uproariously as he pees into the dirt. Three year old boys are all the same.

After that fiasco, I'm sitting in my room and get a text message from another PCV who's at the Post Office and sees that there's a package with my name on it. Yes! I grabbed my bag and took everything out of it in the hope that I could open the package at the post office and then stuff everything in the bag. Much to my delight I had 3 packages (and only one was from my mom!). So I get the slip and the guys, who all know me by now, wave me inside to wait for the customs guy. I waited and waited and waited and waited. I waited for almost 2 hours and the other employees tried to make me leave so they could close since they didn't think the customs guy was coming back and I absolutely refused to wait until Monday for my three packages. Obviously, the other employees couldn't do customs because that isn't their job even though they weren't doing anything other than talking to me! Ah!!!

While we were waiting, I actually had a fascinating conversation with the two men who were in the office. Obviously is centered around everyone's favorite topic: marriage. So, early on in my relationship with the post office men I made the error of telling them I'm not married. The conversation started off with them telling me I wasn't going to get any work done here because as a single, young woman I'm worthless and no one will listen to me. Great. Always good to hear. They then tell me that it's fairly dishonorable that I'm unmarried and living in a foreign country not in the house of a close relative. Excellent, now I'm a slut. This conversation continues until the illustrious customs' official finally arrives and then veers into the "will you by my second wife" conversation.

The oldest man, who is around 50-55, told me that having multiple wives makes for a moral society and he thinks the US is corrupt because men can only have one wife. His reasoning is that women will become huge tramps if they can't find a husband and if men can have multiple wives then all women can have a husband who will safeguard their morals and their purity. This is a lovely sentiment, but he goes on to say that because the Senegalese are allowed to have multiple wives they don't have prostitution problems like the US. Fortunately, at this point, the customs' official needs my attention because I wanted to tell this man that Senegal has a flourishing sex tourism business all along the coast, but instead I signed for my packages.

Since the customs' official was the person who brought up me being a second wife (although I would make a much better first wives because first wives don't cook and I can't make ceebu jenn, but I'm very beautiful), he asked if I had any interest in becoming his second wife at which I balked. Then he proceeded to give me a completely irrational price for my packages, which I laughed at. I then told him that I might reconsider becoming his second wife if we could negotiate a better price. He diminished the price to zero and I walked away with three packages! Victory! Next time at the Post Office I'll just remind him of our deal that I want an air conditioned room with internet before I agree to marry him...

Package Shout Outs!
1. Mom, always a pleasure doing packages with you. I have stowed my Channukah presents under my bed. Half of dad's present may not have been so lucky and may already be in stomach. Junior Mints...delight.
2. Ma! Thank you so much for the package. I plan on making some Indian food tomorrow night in order to avoid the traditional Sunday dinner of millet+milk+sugar! All the food looks AMAZING and I stored the Christmas presents under my bed to be saved until Xmas.
3. McKeowns, last but definitely not least! Thank you so much for all the reading material. I can't tell you how popular I am because of your New Yorkers. I think a New Yorker has made it to every corner of Senegal and many PCVs have been spared hours of boredom because of your thoughtfulness. I also may have seen the pistachios, ripped the bag open, and inhaled a third of the bag before I looked at the contents of the rest of the package. I took out the pro kadima paddles much to amazement, joy and wonder of little Ahmed. He doesn't have any toys and amuses himself by constantly running around or watching tv so the addition of a ball and a paddle to the bubbles I showed him truly blew his mind. We may not be able to hit the ball back and forth, and Ahmed may not being able to bounce the ball up and down on his own paddle, but throwing the ball and waving around the paddle brought him hours of enjoyment today. Thank you.

The food, which added to my already wondrous stash, was much appreciate because I have suffered through 4 not good lunches in a row. All I'm asking for is the return of ceebu jeen. I never thought I would say it, but I like and miss ceebu jenn. So, I've been subsidizing my diet a lot with yummy treats! Luckily we had chicken tonight for dinner! The most satisfying dinner I've had in days made better by the fact that I had my own piece of chicken so my brother and I didn't have to inhale the piece we shared while pretending to let the other person have more.

To cap it all off Khady went to a wedding tonight in a satin dress with a red and gold zebra print. I love her.

What a day.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Apart from President Obama, Matt just may be the most famous American within my Senegalese community here in Thies. The absolute first question I get when someone meets me is if I'm married. While I tell taxi drivers and myriads of other strangers that I am because it's easier, I tell people that I want to form an actual relationship with that I have a boyfriend because it's true and because I want to show people who can be a young independent women who does not need the financial support of a man.

This morning I went to Keur Yaay for the English class and I'm really starting to get to know and really enjoying seeing the women who come every time. One in particular named Fatou is awesome and I love her. I walk in and after the usual pleasantries she inquires about "Mattchew." She's already told me that she plans to steal my American boyfriend and move to the US because nothing is more desirable than an American boyfriend... especially one who has a job! Fatou is hilarious. She's 27 and trying to complete her high school degree on her own through tutors and through classes at Keur Yaay. She's a spitfire, she's smart, and we already have a good joking report. He also has the most ridiculous weave I've ever seen. 2 points for that.

Emily has also started to come to English class because it's fun and the women are approximately our age and super nice. Now all the women are trying to get Emily to give them Matt's phone number. It's completely out of control and really funny. I'm planning on taking pictures in on Monday so they can put a name to a face. They could really care less about my family and my friends only "Mattchew" sorry to everyone else.

Finally we settle down into the English class and the teacher sees what I had taught on Tuesday when he didn't show because no one erased it. Not good. He then picks apart what I wrote trying to find fault and confusing everyone in the room including Emily and I. He's obviously threatened by us being there, which I can completely understand, but he's also not open to advice. He still does the thing where he claims there are multiple pronunciations of words such as Monday when there are not. He also tells Emily and I he's teaching British English whenever we try to correct grammar, but he's really just making an error. It's a precarious line we're trying to walk and I still haven't figured out what to do. What is for sure is that the girls love when Emily and I teach and they can ask questions and we can go over phrases and pronunciations that they are having difficulty with as well as learn whatever they want. I stayed after the class for 1/2 an hour to work with them and it was really fun. Instead of doing computer stuff on Monday afternoons we're going to do English revision since most of them are trying to finish high school and pass the exam on their own in June.

Tonight was spent out with friends. All of the PCVs who had additional Wolof training are back in Thies for the night and I met up with them, not at chicken dibi (sad face), for a debrief of their week. It was really nice to see people as it always is and it was really interesting to hear peoples' perspectives of our experience thus far who are outside my inner circle. I came away being really happy. No one tonight was really struggling with their site, but people didn't seem as content as I was. I think a lot of people were expecting to be in a little village in the middle of no where and they're not. That's not what I ever wanted. I, unlike a lot of people here, signed up to be a business volunteer and wanted to be in a city that had amenities. Not only am I happy about my placement, but that during PST while I was so miserable and didn't think I would make that I was able to vocalize what I wanted and that Peace Corps really listened to what I had to say. Regardless, it was a good day filled with what I felt was progress at Keur Yaay and some fun out on the town.

I can't wait until Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Character Study: Khady

I'm starting to create a routine here in Senegal and for that reason, while today was a good day it is nothing special to blog about. Therefore, I will treat you to an in-depth look at one of my family members: my oldest sister Khady.

I really like Khady. She's no nonsense, she's got an enviable jayfunday (big butt), and she's got great style. She definitely has more clothes than me and that's saying something unless your Lindsay and you've saved every article you've ever owned...

Khady is in her late twenties or early thirties and is little Ahmed's mother. Yes, there was some confusion with my mom aka his grandma breastfeeding him, but I've since discovered that he just likes to "breastfeed" as a security blanket and that there's no actual milk and that it's not that unusual. Anyway, Khady is not married to Ahmed's father although he is really nice and really attractive. I just met him for the first time this weekend and he actually played with Ahmed and spent quality time with him that didn't involve watching television, which is more than I can say I've seen any other member of the family do.

The story I've been able to piece together is that Khady and Ahmed's father dated, but it wasn't seen as a good match and she unfortunately got pregnant. For some reason, Ahmed's father probably didn't have enough money, they couldn't get married and Khady hastily married some much older man. She's this man's second wife and he lives in Dakar while Khady lives here.

My favorite Khady moments:
1. Seeing her every morning washing her underwear topless
2. Anytime she puts on make-up because it literally takes hours and she looks like a doll when she's done, but the attention she puts into it is really sweet, and she is very beautiful (definitely the prettiest sister)
3. When I was going to through a caramel away because it was oozing out of the plastic casing and she threw it in her mouth and sucked all the caramel out
4. That she unfailing greats me and asks me about my day with actual concern
5. That she can not contain herself when I come in from riding my bike and I still have my helmet on. She laughs every time. I can't blame her: a toubab in a helmet is pretty ridiculous.

Khady is pretty awesome and a really good time. Most nights all the girls congregate in her room, which is full of hugely over sized red lacquered furniture and leopard sheets. How can you not love that?

An important holiday called Tabaski is two days after Thanksgiving and I'm hoping to take a TON of family pictures then, but until then imagine Khady in all her kick ass glory.

Ps. Shout out to Ma, T, my mom, and especially Aunt Alice. I know it was a rough day, but I'm so happy everything went well and everything is looking good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Art Class/ Happy Birthday Kristin

I've been feeling exhausted lately so I went to bed early last night and slept in this morning. I gifted myself a morning of luxury which means reading Pride and Prejudice while eating apple sauce and a granola bar, making oatmeal just seemed too difficult.

Dioss, the artist, invited me to have lunch at the gallery before heading out to watch him teach his art class so I left my house and journey several quartiers away to his place. I put up a bunch of pictures of the gallery Dioss' art so I hope you think it's as cool as I do. I really enjoyed hanging out there again today. They play an amazing mix of early 90s soft rock and it's a very relaxing environment. I took a book and watched Dioss paint and talked to some of his brothers or cousins or friends, I don't really understand the relation, for a couple of hours before we had lunch.

Dioss' house is the first house I've really been in, other than mine, in Thies. While the gallery is really cool the house is much less impressive. The house does have amazing art all over, which is unusual for Senegalese homes. Most people just have a picture of their local maribou (religious leader) hanging in an awkward spot. They didn't have furniture like my family and there were just a bunch of mats, but I'm pretty sure this is just the boys' house and there is a larger family house nearby. We had ceebu jenn, obviously, and while not as good as what I get at home it was still good.

I had a really good discussion with Dioss and another boy about my age after lunch. They were really curious about me and what my first impressions of Senegal were. I explained how I really had no idea what Africa was like since I had never been here before and that it was shocking, but that I'm definitely getting used to living here. I always tell Senegalese people how much I love the night sky here and how light pollution is a problem in the US. They were fascinated by this and really liked that that was one of the things I really enjoy about Senegal. We talked about how Senegal has a very family based culture compared to the US and how men and women interaction much differently. We also discussed the educational system and they were floored that I was only 22 and was already done with college. It was a really interesting discussion and I was happy that we were able to speak plainly and talk about differences without having to say which was better... they're just different. It was refreshing.

The afternoon was spent in Dioss' art class. I thought it was at a high school, but it was actually a small private college. I might go back next week to watch a business English class. Dioss' class was interesting because these were college students who had never painted before. Ever. In the US we finger paint in pre-school. It was fascinating watching the students, most of whom are older than me, express themselves through art for the first time. While most goofed off for the 2 hour period, some created really wonderful paintings and explained them very eloquently to the class. Themes ranged from frustrations with Senegalese transportation, to black oppression, to dreaming about going to the US. It was very interesting to hear the explanations.

Now, I'm back at home waiting for dinner. My dad didn't come back tonight which is usually a bad sign for the quality of dinner I'm about to consume. Wish me luck. I don't think I can handle fish balls and spaghetti!

Check out the new pictures!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The "Cool" Season

I walked into my compound today lugging my bike over the doorstep and just a little sweaty (this is a vast improvement over the usual sweatiness I experience) from my bike ride across town to find my mom and little boy Ahmed dressed in coats ready to go visit some friends. I did notice today that the temperature was extremely comfortable and there was a nice breeze. Luckily, one of the myriad of things my mom has sent me is a little thermometer I've attached to my bag. Silently laughing to myself that my Senegalese family is already wearing coats on the first "cold" day of the season I grab the thermometer to check what the temperature actually was: 82 degrees.

Finding my mom and little brother all bundled up in coats that I would wear in October in Michigan was after my computer class, which wasn't nearly as uplifting as usual. The school had an internet technician working on things while I was there so the connection was terrible and I kept getting pulled away because the Senegalese technician for some reason had a computer with a QWERTY keyboard instead of an AZERTY and he couldn't figure out where are the symbols were. Regardless, my students are still making progress and loving getting to the next level of the typing game.

This morning I rode my bike to Keur Yaay for their English class. I invited Emily to come along too and was disappointed when we both got there and someone was teaching a computer class... on a chalkboard while there were computers in the next room. He was explaining a keyboard on a blackboard. It made no sense and the girls obviously didn't get it either. After 45 minutes of mind numbing computer terms while not looking a computer I discovered that the tech class was only happening because the English teacher didn't show. All of the women had showed up and on time and were stood up by their teacher. These women are really motivated to learn and it's disappointing to see them let down.

Luckily Emily and I speak English pretty well except that we both had to keep asking each other if our English spelling was correct. It was bad. We did a lesson on meals and food terms. It was actually really fun. I was a little intimidated getting up to the blackboard, but it was great for me too since I was writing everything in English, French, and Wolof. The girls really had a good time with it and their pronunciation was a lot better.

Disclaimer: I'm about to make a generalization...

Senegalese people are notorious pen stealers. I say this in the nicest way possible. My PC language instructor stole pens, Diof always tries to steal my pens, and a girl in the English class who had borrowed my pen attempted to steal it! They do steal pens for a valid reason: PENS DO NOT WORK IN SENEGAL. It's the strangest thing. I had to have RSVP pens sent from the states because they are legitimately the only pens that work. As I was leaving the classroom I spotted the girl with my bright pink pen and asked for it back. She started laughing and explained she thought I forgot about it! I called her a pen stealer and the entire room burst out laughing. This was all taking place in Wolof so as I haltingly explained that the Senegalese steal pens the girls only started laughing harder. All the other girls then started ganging up on the pen stealer and it was just hilarious. Sorry that it's not as funny here...

To make up for that not being funny: Me on my bike...

1. Fun Fact: Mopeds are popular here and two men often ride on them together. Peddling at a normal pace on my bike pushes me forward at a faster rate than two Senegalese men on a moped.
2. Some punk kid with only one gear on his bike peddles furiously to keep pace with me and attempt to pass me until his chain falls off and I leave him in the dust.
3. Seeing another person wearing a helmet in the distance and knowing it's Emily. Hey, only random PCV toubabs wear helmets. Surprisingly, you still feel dorky wearing a helmet in Senegal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tape Players Still Exist

The men who work at the post office want to meet my mom when she comes to visit. That said, I would like to thank my dad, grandma, and CJ for picking out some very delicious camping style treats for me at the REI in Denver! Good choices! And a special shout out to Shirley who is the letter queen. Thanks for the card!

After my adventure to the post office, I rode my bike to Dioss' (sounds almost like Josh) atelier. I absolutely love going to the studio. Today Dioss was working on an abstract painting and I sat there for 2.5 hours listening to a Boyz 2 Men tape while he painted. I only realized we were listening to a tape when someone got up when the music ended and flipped it! Send me old tapes! Watching Dioss paint was relaxing and wonderful. The atelier itself is beautiful and all the guys (all members of the same family) who work and hang out there are incredibly nice and helpful with my Wolof aka extremely patient. Some of Dioss' art is amazing. His abstract work is really cool. I can't wait to take some pictures. I'm hoping I will have the opportunity Wednesday because I'm going over for lunch before we go to a school where Dioss teaches an art class. He's also going to take me to a meeting for an artisan association he belongs to. They want to start a website so I might help them do that. So, not only was going to the atelier successful in setting up future work, but it's a great place to hang out and really relaxing.

This afternoon I went to Keur Yaay to help with a computer class, which I actually ended up just teaching. The younger girls who have some base knowledge in computers left when the real teacher didn't show up and I was left with some middle aged women who didn't know how to turn on a computer. Attempting to explain left click versus right click in Wolof may actually be impossible. Unfortunately, the women I was left with didn't really speak French and the lesson was a little bit of a disaster. I ended up guiding their hands with mine on the mouse. It was much like a boy hitting on a girl by teaching her to play pool in a seductive manner expect I was trying to teach middle aged Senegalese women to use a mouse and follow the cursor with their eyes and move their hands at the same time. It should be interesting moving forward. I told them to practice so hopefully they will be as diligent as my other students.

The rest of my day was fairly uneventful. My family is pretty subdued today and a lot of people aren't home. I never have any idea why people aren't at home or what they do when they aren't here. Oh well. I had chicken for dinner and that's all that really matters!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Today was a great end to my first of what will hopefully be many great weeks here in Senegal. I slept in a little bit and lounged in bed reading until it started to get hot and I felt I had been sufficiently lazy. My only goal of today was cleaning my room, which is quite a task because I have to move everything out, clean the floor with a squat broom and rags, wait for it to dry, and then move everything back in. It's quite a production especially when every single member of my family has to come by to ask me what I'm doing and then give me a few pointers of my technique.

Everyone was really chill today and just taking it easy, which was exactly what I needed after my eventful and exhausting day yesterday. All the boys had mysteriously disappeared and all the girls were watching Survivorman in the living room. This is the only television show I actually enjoying watching here. Survivorman dubbed in French is actually hilarious and then my mom's reactions are priceless. She is completely disgusted that he eats bugs and especially that he's an American who eats bugs. Then everyone has to ask me if I eat bugs, which I don't.

As we were all sitting together, I let my family know that Jackie was coming over for the afternoon and that we were going to make dinner together. My family was interested in why Jackie was here today since my friends usually come over on Saturdays and I explained that she is having some additional language training in a nearby village. My mom was appalled. She was extremely worried for Jackie and didn't want her to go back to the village. It is incredibly interesting listening to my family talk about people who live in villages and the social hierarchy that exists in Senegal. I assured her that Jackie and I were going to cook a really good dinner and that if she needed to Jackie could always come back to our house. An offer which my mom readily extended to Jackie several times before she left.

When I told my mom we were going to cook an excellent meal I wasn't kidding. My real mom, the infamous Sharyl (yes, all of my friends are intimately acquainted with her through blog posts and my packages!), truly packed some delicious treats into a few of my packages. Some treats were just so good that I had to save them to eat with a friend. Since Jackie is headed back to the vil, I decided there was no time like the present to indulge... even though I'm staying in Thies and living the life. We started off our afternoon with a ridiculous pepper encrusted sausage, and ended with some gnocchi, spicy arrabiata sauce, and wine juiceboxes. I kid you not, my mom seriously figured out how to send all of this stuff to Africa. It was amazing! Especially when combined with magazines and some good old fashioned girl talk.

Today capped off an entire calendar week of good days. It's pretty exciting. I'm ready to get back to reality tomorrow aka walking around Thies and attempting to conduct my life in Wolof. This weekend was an excellent re-energizer and I'm ready to tackle the last ten day stretch before Thanksgiving and some more fun!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day Tripper

Today was an extremely long and amazing day. I got up really early in order to make a day trip into Dakar to play softball and see a lot of the other volunteers who live in the Dakar region.

My first challenge was going to the Thies garage and not only getting myself a place in a sept-place, but also purchasing a seat for Jackie and explaining that we were going to pick her up along the side of the road. This is not a strange thing to do here so I was pretty confident. The garage was surprisingly uncrowded this morning and I went straight to the Dakar cars as swarms of men come up to me asking where I'm going to and trying to get me to take taxis or buses instead of a sept-place and trying to sell me things. One sidebar worth mentioning: A man came up to me and said that he would take me straight to Dakar and get my friend in his taxi. I told him I didn't want a taxi. He then told me because I'm very beautiful he would offer me the great deal of 15k for the ride. I laughed at him, asked him if he was joking in Wolof, and walked away. The men surrounding us burst out laughing and mocked the guy who had approached me. It was funny and a small victory.

I found a car going to Dakar and explained I wanted to two spots. The driver said ok so I got in. Then everyone else in the car kept saying how expensive two places was even though I explained I was picking up a friend. They were very concerned. I also had to fight off other people trying to get in the car and take the empty spot that was for Jackie. After 30 minutes of explaining that I was going to pay for two seats and we needed to pick up a friend we finally left the Thies garage. I gave myself a little pat on the back and thought my work was done... haha.

We roll into Jackie's town and she's not there. I keep saying that she's right behind us and everyone in the car is getting angry. They force me to get out of the car and call for her. This is alongside the national highway of Senegal. They then ask me if I can't pick her out of the crowd because she's Senegalese. I meekly reply that she's a toubab and I thought I was going to have a mutiny on my hands! The rest of the car was not happy. I call Jackie who is literally running from her house to the car after her mom interrogated her for 20 minutes and tried to hitch a ride with us. Finally, I see Jackie bounding through the gas station at top speed toward the sept-place. I breath a sigh of relief since the car wanted to leave without her and a women in the car who had an infant gave Jackie a death stare. Jackie was literally maybe three minutes late, but I was really worried they were going to push me out and her out of the car! It all worked out and is just part of the adventure. I'm sure I will be stopping countless more times to pick Jackie up for a little fun in Dakar. (Jackie, I know you're reading this... no worries! It was fun!).

It took 2.5 hours from me walking into the Thies garage until we arrived at the garage in Dakar, which is a jumble of cars, taxis, buses, people, and other miscellaneous things. We had gotten ourselves to the garage, but had really no idea where we were going from there. I hailed a cab, negotiated a fair, and we were off in the general direction of the Atlantic Club to have lunch and take a swim before the softball game. The driver only had a vague idea, much like we did, of where the club was so I just kept telling him to drive straight until Jackie recognized some dilapidated apartment buildings.

Katherine, who is a champion and took a bus, was already at the club and Elizabeth who is a trooper and left the med hut to come see us, she has a suspect case of Dengue fever, rounded out our foursome. First order of business catching up, second: FOOD. I had a fatoush salad and a chicken wrap and I can't tell you how incredibly amazing and fresh it tasted after the especially oily week of food I had at home.

Next off to the softball field to meet up with everyone else and kick some butt. Victory Dakar region PC. I was impressed with how good both some of the other volunteers and especially the Senegalese team we played were. It was really fun. I have to give a special shout out to Katherine and Jackie who are both good! I will admit to saying "this is a left handed mitt." Yes, now I realize that you catch with your left hand and it makes sense and I knew that. I've never pretended to like baseball, but I did feel stupid. After the game everyone went back to the Atlantic Club for some swimming, volleyball, and ice cream. It was really fun hanging out with the older volunteers and making the trip to Dakar by myself for the first time. Quite exhilarating.

Jackie, Katherine, and I left in the mid-afternoon in order to make it back to our sites before dark. We were able to take a cab together, but once we got to the garage Katherine had to take a different car and the garage is a really chaotic place to say goodbye. Oh well. We all made it back.

I walked into my compound just as it was getting dark, sweating, covered in dirt, and just revolting to find 100 women in all of their finery having a baptism for Jeenaba's sister's baby. Awesome. A Senegalese baptism is quite an event. The women get all dressed up and the congregate to give gifts and have a party. When I say give gifts I mean they hold up fabric, money, soap, or any other number of things and read out the quantity and the quality and write it down. It's a very public display of money which is a little different from what would happen at home, but it's very interesting to see the politicking behind who gave what and I always love seeing everyone dressed up.

I ducked into my room to try and clean myself up before sitting down to watch. Luckily it got dark so I hope no one really noticed how terrible I looked, but oh well. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so tired from today, but it was still cool. The party at my house ended about an hour and a half after I got home and moved to someone else's house. I ducked out at this point to decompress from my day and take a shower!

Ps. There are some new pictures up!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Shirley

Happy Birthday Shirley! I wish I was home and we could celebrate with Mexican dip, rice salad, oreo balls, and ice cream cake, but alas, I am in Africa. In honor of me please have grandma take you out to a nice dinner and order the most expensive item on the menu! And a salad!

I went back to Keur Yaay today to attend the bi-weekly English class. On my way there I actually ran into one of the women who participates in the group at a breakfast stand. Waiting for her to get her food and then having to walk/ push my bike instead of riding was going to make us late and I was already getting frustrated with this because I really want to make a good impression since I really like the head woman, Boya. We got there almost 15 minutes late and were the first people there so I tried to tell myself to take a chill pill and enjoy. Unfortunately I got up early since the class was supposed to start at 9 it started at 10:15.

The class was very interesting. Senegalese teaching style is so different from the US methodology. At home I am a fastidious note taker, it helps me pay attention, but here, at least with this teacher, the students aren't allowed to take notes during the lesson and copy everything after the fact. The entire class is conducted closed book and memorization is king. The teacher also really put the students on the spot, which I thought was a little embarrassing, but I think some of it might have to do with me. He's definitely intimidated to have a native English speaker in the room and although he asked for my correction and help he also resents it. We were going over "to be" and he kept saying I'm as "Ahm" Since I'm also attempting to learn a new language I'm very sensative to pronunciation issues especially with letter combinations that don't exist in one's native tongue. I know I sound like a fool when attempting to say a word that has a "nd" combination, but French and Wolof have a long "I" sound so I thought I should correct. He merely told the class that there are several different pronunciations. Not true.

I will have to test my boundaries more in the class. I don't think he realizes that I understand everything he says in French even though we converse in French with each other because he will give me slight put downs when I make corrections. Oh well. Boya is really into me giving suggestions and corrections so that's all that matters.

Going to Keur Yaay and running an errand afterwards were the only productive things I did today. I hung out with my family for a few hours after lunch and made tea, but I can only take so much sitting without talking or looking at each other so I hid in my room and read Pride and Prejudice. I fall in love with Mr. Darcy every single time. It doesn't matter how many times I read it. I forced myself away from my love affair after a few hours to hang out with the fam again. I was rewarded with watching anime dubbed in French.

Series of events to end the night:
1. Watching anime dubbed in French with my sisters who are in their late 20s and early 30s
2. Watching the 3 year old Ahmed "drink" water out of a bag he kept refilling only to have people become irate when they stepped/ slipped in big puddles
3. My dad having a pitcher of water instead of Fosters Clark/ Kool-Aid and having to wait 10min while my brother went to buy some as our dinner got cold
4. Ahmed trying to breastfeed with every woman in the family... including me... I told him I wouldn't give him anymore candy if he kept grabbing me
5. Watching a special 1 hour marathon of Whitney Houston videos... Ok, not going to lie it was actually a little entertaining. I love Whitney. Who doesn't love the Body Guard? Mamy, my sister, personally loves "Greatest Love of All" in case you were wondering.

This is my life. What will tomorrow possibly bring?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Space, Comma

November 12, 2009

I dragged myself out of bed this morning to take a run. As my skin explodes in a fit of acne and my body rebels against the liters of oil I eat every week, I thought I should do something nice for myself. The weather is actually getting cooler, which made my run almost pleasant except for the fact that I am not one of those people who can find the "zone" and actually enjoy myself. At least the track was empty when I got there and I was able to be at peace... and run through the sprinklers when I was done!

The track is right next to where I get tutored, but I ran home and then rode my bike back to tutoring. My bike and I are becoming better friends. Although I disengaged the back breaks because I have no idea how to stop them from touching the tire and I can't seem to shift gears (it's really hard to peddle!), we are starting to bond and it's nice not to have 45 minute walks when it's a million degrees outside. Even though I take the same routes day in and day out a toubab with a helmet is still just about the most ridiculous site in the entire world and the cat calls and children's' shrill "toubab" follow me everywhere. Luckily, the bike affords me speed and the ability to ignore most comments.

Tutoring is good. My tutor is funny and nice and intense. He wants me to come more often and for longer periods of time. This is very generous and I will take him up on his offer because I really do want to attempt to master Wolof, but at the same time he is so high energy that he exhausts me. Today he had several friends over who were interesting characters. It was fun to talk to other people, but we weren't quite as productive as usual.

Back at home for lunch, I waited and waited for lunch. Mamy, one of my sisters, not Jeenaba was cooking which is usually a bad sign and means it's not going to be as good. I should preface this by saying that there are two types of ceebu jenn: red and white. We usually have white and I used to prefer white ceebu jenn for some unknown reason, but Mamy's red ceebu jenn was worth the wait and there was only a thin film of oil on the bottom of the bowl which is a huge improvement over most meals. I was pumped and at the same time sad that I am now ranking how much I like (not tolerate) ceebu jenn. And I called myself a foodie this summer. Sigh. Mamy cooking today wasn't the end of shared household responsibilities. All of the girls scrubbed the courtyard today. It is impressive what these women can do with some soap and a squat broom made of sticks. I attempted to help until they begged me stop and said they could do it without me. I really did try to help. Hey, I can scrub with the best of them, but I relinquished my broom for another Senegalese girl who came over. I think they at least appreciated the effort.

I spent the afternoon at my typing class, which I'm still really excited about. The women have gotten to the point where they actually type words now instead of just letter combinations and they're psyched about it. They also practice on their own which is great. This is mainly fueled by competition and the desire to get "SUPERSTAR" status at the end of a lesson. Interestingly, the program reports which letters the student has the most problems with and all of my students struggle with the space bar. I don't really get it and we had a long discussion about spaces, but they're still struggling. We also added some punctuation today, exciting!, and commas completely befuddled them. I will admit I'm terrible at commas. I usually use them incorrectly or just leave them out completely, but no one knew what a comma was so I explained it as a pause within a sentence and showed them one in the book. Since commas don't pertain to emails and Google searches the women found them largely annoying and unnecessary in their exercises. Oh well. Mme Cissa continues to impress me with her dedication and quick uptake.

And we lost power tonight for several hours so even though I had this post mostly written I couldn't post it. Since it was dark I got into bed early with my iPod and when the power magically came back on as I was drifting to sleep I chose bed over blogging. My apologies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seersucker Boo Boo

Although I have been dreading going out to the villages lately, I was excited to go today because Jackie was going to meet us and because it's a Catholic village with a monastery that makes goat cheese! Goat cheese! Yeah, obviously it didn't happen. I got to the office and Diof was surprised to see me since he completely forgot that we were supposed to a village today and he was way too busy to go. Fortunately he told me this right when I got there so I didn't waste half of my day waiting around for him trying to pry information out of him.

Leaving the office I decided to be productive and go to a woman's organization that I've been too a few times for the rest of the morning and then the high school English club in the afternoon. Ambitious. I arrived at Keur Yaay, the women's organization, and walked in on an adult English class. Obviously, they were excited to see a native English speaker... or at least the students were. I made the teacher, the only man in the room, really nervous and he probably didn't enjoy the fact that I corrected him several times. I didn't really know what my place was, but when I saw blatant misspellings I thought I should correct him. It was interesting seeing an English as a foreign language class. The teacher kept giving varied pronunciations of words like Monday. Again, I wanted to correct him, but I didn't know if I should and I was confused about the multiple pronunciations of Monday.

After the class ended, Boya, the director of the center took me aside to talk about what type of projects we could do together. She definitely wanted me to come and help with the English classes, which isn't really what I want to do long term, but for now and to get to know these women I can sit around in an English class. Boya was very adament about empowering the women who come to the center and she thinks learning the global languages of English and Arabic are very helpful. I pounced on the Arabic and supposedly Boya has a friend who teaches Arabic at a high school so we're going to try and set up an Arabic class as well. At the very least I hope that I'll be able to meet the Arabic teacher and maybe just set up a time to talk or attend his classes.

I was having a really good time with the women and they invited me to stay for lunch and it was really hot today and I was feeling really lazy so I agreed. Bad, bad decision. They served supukagny aka the only dish in Senegal that I find completely unpalatable. They obviously could tell I didn't like it and they were totally cool with that. I said that I could just eat a granola bar I had with me and they made me some hardboiled eggs, which was incredibly sweet. They are really nice and really fun. I think I will enjoy hanging out there.

After lunch we went to another groupments meeting because I wanted to meet some women who do food transformation. Unfortunately, after two hours my mind had completely turned off and I told Boya I had to leave. It was fairly insufferable. I'll have to meet the food group the next time. The only aspect of the meeting that saved my sanity was one very stately older man wearing a seersucker booboo (a traditional male outfit here that is like a muu muu with pants under it). It was AMAZING and I now want a seersucker dress.

Today's Ridiculousnesses:
1. I listened to Chris Brown's "Forever" at least 7 times at Keur Yaay. I lost count after 7.
2. 3 year old Ahmed took a bag of chips threw them on the ground, stomped on them, opened the bag, and then poured it into his mouth... this was during the 45 minute blackout
3. My dad was furious at dinner because no one had prepared his Fosters Clark, which is the equivalent of Kool-Aid. My dad drinks a pitcher every night.

I am absolutely exhausted from speaking in Frolof all day with no breaks. Goodnight.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My computer class is really making progress. I walked in today and two women were already practicing the typing game! Granted one woman was playing solitaire, but even this was awesome because while the school has 5 computers they didn't have an extension cord so only two computers were plugged in, but they took the initiative to plug all the computers in because people are pumped about my class! The one woman who was playing solitaire has told me she's awesome at computers aka can turn them on and play solitaire, but when she heard the other women talk about the typing program I found she wanted to join the class too! Today I had four women and supposedly a fifth is going to come on Thursday.

The women are making real progress and their patience continues to impress me. I was originally worried that they would grow bored of the typing exercises quickly and want to revert to going online, which is definitely outside their skill range, but they are getting really into typing. The head secretary/ the woman who is obviously in charge, Mme Cissa, definitely practiced and is improving rapidly. She's already on the third level which is great. When she passed the second level today, she had a very high accuracy score and the program generated a little certificate that labeled her a "SUPERSTAR" she was so excited and all the other women were exceedingly jealous and the room got really quiet as they all concentrated. It's very rewarding seeing them make progress and have other women join the group because they see it as valuable training. Although I'm there mainly as a cheerleader and to press override key commands when the computers freeze, but I definitely still feel a sense of accomplishment and worth which is awesome.

Before my computer class I had tutoring which is still going well. Bossa, my tutor, is very nice and entertaining. It's definitely a change since the PC approach is very structured and the instructors are amazing, but Bossa is definitely helping and teaching me relevant vocab and the like. Today we talked about bargaining in the market, which is useful for me. He puts on these hilarious dialogues where he plays both parties and he gets really into it and I can't help but laugh. He wants me to come for 3 hours at a time so I'm awesome at Wolof, which is very generous, but my head would literally explode. I am going to go over there more and more since I'm planning on going to the villages less and less. He also wants me to help him in his garden... that will be interesting... I'm no green thumb.

Back at home no one is in a good mood at my casa. Jeenaba had two teeth pulled without any pain meds and was crying as she made dinner for everyone. I broke a cardinal rule of not giving out medicine, but I couldn't help myself. Her face is swollen and she was sitting over a gas crying. Some combination of a car, an airport, and someone being lost has my mom irate, one of my brothers is sick, and my dad can not stop talking about my work partner being late. My dad is now really into my work which is great and wants to make sure that everyone is on time for me... it's only polite. So a fairly interesting night and I'm trying to remain out of the fray.

Tomorrow I'm off to the village. Pray for my sanity.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Today the stars aligned and created a day that made me remember why I joined Peace Corps and why I am going to live here for the next two years instead of fleeing back to the US and all things luxurious.

I woke up and saw that we had water, which I deemed a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I obviously don't like to sleep caked in a mixture of my own sweet and dirt and I like to drink water, but a curse because now I had no excuse to not exercise. After several minutes of wrestling with myself I decided to suck it up and go for a run on a new path in an attempt to find an artist atelier I had met on site visits. I knew the general direction, which means nothing since I get lost trying to get back to my house (in the US I do have a good sense of direction), and I set off on my way. I thought it was pretty close so after running for a while I almost turned back until I thought that I saw a familiar intersection. The best part about this intersection was that it was actually familiar and I found the atelier! I was so excited and proud of myself. Since I was a hot, sweety mess I resolved to return in the afternoon.

After a shower aka bucket bath I headed out to the post office. I had bought a plethora of stamps through the Peace Corps so this was my first time making a purchase at the post office instead of just picking up packages and it was a little intimidating since people just mash up against the windows and it doesn't seem like there is a line. While it is a mob, not a line, everyone knows who is in front of who and no one cuts. It's actually pretty impressive. I successfully mailed a couple of post cards and got some stamps, no letters though... tear. Sorry this was really exciting to me, but now that I've read it, it's a little lame.

Next I was off to meet some other PCVs for lunch. I really like that everyone calls me when they come into Thies although I do feel a little guilty leaving my family and having so much America time, but I rationalized this by promising myself that I would push myself and go back to the atelier. Lunch was really fun and it's nice to get to know people in different stages since I really only know my group. Plus we went to a new restaurant and I had some spring rolls, which almost satisfied the Asian craving I've been having for the last 2.5 months. I might have also had a beignet stuffed with custard... hey, I went on a run today.

After lunch and getting a yogo glace, which we ate inside the Total gas station because it is air conditioned, I walked back in the direction of the Thies garage/ my house with one of the boys and contemplated not going to the atelier because it was going to be hard and I was having such a good day and I didn't want to ruin it, but I forced myself to go and I'm so happy I did.

Two guys were sitting outside the atelier drinking tea, eating peanuts, and playing amazing music on the guitar. We were off to a good start. They were super nice and really helped me with Wolof and told me that the owner/ artist was teaching a class but would soon be back. The owner, Dioss, returned and remembered my name (the Senegalese have great memories) from village visit and was super excited to see me. I knew from my previous visit that he really has his act together and he wants me to help him with a strategy for selling some holiday cards he made, which are fantastic. He also wants me to come to the school where he teaches art classes and talk about being an entrepreneur. He was just really excited and had concrete plans and it was great to feel needed and that I could make a difference. It's definitely a place I want to hang out. They helped me with my Wolof and they are just cool guys. Also, another friend who was there owns a boutique and a gas station and he wants my help with marketing and merchandising!

On my way home, I was just praying my family would be in a good mood because I wanted to keep the ball rolling. Deenaba is back and everyone is obviously happy. It means Jeenaba has less work and is happier, and everything runs more smoothly, which in turn makes every happy.

My dad also got home early and I took it as an opportunity to ask him about business in Senegal and timeliness. He works for an international corporation in Dakar and I wanted his opinion on the contentious matter. I explained the situation that my work partner is often late and it makes us late for our work and it frustrates me. My dad was very firm in admonishing my work partner as unprofessional. He stated that he leaves at 4:30 am for Dakar every day because he would be very embarrassed and it would negatively impact his career if he was late. He believes timeliness is a sign of respect and that it's impossible to effectively do your job if your always late. He dismissed the idea that the Senegalese system must run at its own pace and thinks that there are global best business practices. Not only did this help me sort out my feelings about business and time here in Senegal, but I also got to talk to my dad for 20 minutes which was cool.

What could possibly make this day better? CHICKEN. Yeah, we had roasted chicken for dinner and it was delectable. I'm hoping today will serve as a beacon of light in my darkest hours and that it will remind me to just go and see what's out here because I may be surprised about the work opportunities.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Market Day

Jeenaba and I had agreed to go to the market this morning earlier in the week and we had a great trip. I wanted to buy some fabric to have an outfit made for an upcoming holiday called Tabaski, which got everyone really excited because my family loves it when I wear Senegalese clothes. I assumed that we would go to the main market in Thies because that's the only one I knew about, but there is a smaller market much closer to our house, which still has all the food products of the bigger markets and several fabric stalls and tailors.

All of my sisters are fashionistas and Jeenaba took control of my outfit, which is fine since I don't know what the Senegalese think is nice and not. We settled on some violet eyelet fabric and embroidery, this is after I convinced Jeenaba that a large rhinestone encrusted ribbon down the front of the outfit wasn't necessary. She agreed that I already stick out enough as a toubab. The tailor also got a kick out of the fact that I wanted a skirt with a zipper instead of a wrap skirt because I think they're too hard to walk in. Overall, it was a smooth process and Jeenaba seemed really into it and I'm excited to see the finished product. I'm also excited to have some more Senegalese clothes because they really are the most comfortable things to wear here.

We did a bunch of grocery shopping and it was really interesting to see Jeenaba move around the market. She knew everyone there and would stop and say hi to all the vendors even if she wasn't buying. I met her brother who has a small booth and we talked for a while. The best part about this outing was going to see Jeenaba's mother after the shopping because I was able to put together more of the family tree. Jeenaba's mom is my mom's sister, which makes her a cousin. From seeing their house it's obvious that my family is better off and that's why I assume Jeenaba works at my house. It also makes sense why Jeenaba who calls the other girl who does a lot of the cleaning (her name is Deenaba, oops I thought there were two Jeenabas) a maid. She's not family. I also got to meet my grandma who is hilarious, really friendly, and had a lot of patience talking with me. We went back to Jeenaba's house this evening for a wedding, but we missed most of it and just sat around talking. I'm able to pick up more and more of conversations which is nice even if it's difficult for me to participate. On the way home I thanked Jeenaba for her help and she said no problem I'm her friend. It was really sweet and meant a lot. We are becoming friends and that's great.

This afternoon I watched a lot of television with my family. While we did start out with some CSI Miami dubbed in French, we eventually turned out to a Senegalese channel which was really interesting because it was showing a traditional wrestling match. A match lasts approximately a minute (the winner only has to push his opponent out of the ring), but there is an hour of awesome dancing and other festivities before hand. The dancing and music is really cool and was similar to the performances at the party for our host families.

All in all a good and relaxing day.

I would like to address some comments made on the blog. I did not use precise language in explaining my irritation with people being late. I do regret saying all Senegalese people are late since it does annoy me when they assume all Americans are rich, but I have yet to attend a meeting that started relatively on time. Also, my frustrations lie mainly with my work partner who I've had many discussions with about how I don't like waiting outside a bank for over an hour while he does his personal business. He could have very easily called me and told me to come an hour later. I have also admitted that I'm struggling with all the cultural differences and I hope that that translated into my willingness to try and understand and adapt as much as I can. I am keeping an open mind. Additionally, the Peace Corps is a cross cultural exchange. While I understand, respect, and admire many aspects of Senegalese cultural such as breaking for prayer time, forming personal relationships over afternoons at tea before starting a business relationship, and stopping to great everyone you know on the way to a meeting, I am here to improve business and teach business practices in a culturally sensitive way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Water and Booze

I woke up with a grand plan to take a run before Jackie came into town, but this illustrious goal was dashed when I discovered that the water is still cut. This means I didn't take a shower last night, I didn't take a shower this morning, and I don't get to take a shower tonight. Luckily, someone sent me some baby wipes so I'm going to take a baby wipe bath in my room tonight in an effort not to disgust myself. Since I opted to not take a run because I couldn't shower, I read in my room until Jackie arrived.

Seeing another PCV is akin to a religious experience. We hugged when we saw each other and it was the most physical contact I've had since an exceedingly old man who is the Chief de Quartier held my hand for an uncomfortable period of time. It's also an opportunity to actually feel understood. Yes, I can talk to my parents, my boyfriend, and my friends on the phone and over email, but no one can possibly understand the constant heightened awareness that I live my everyday life at. Constantly being asked for money, being called derogatory names, and conducting my life in two foreign languages is exhausting and there is no one better to bitch with than another PCV. Needless to say my day with Jackie was amazing, full of food that wasn't ceebu jenn, frothy beverages, and understanding. It was great and much needed especially after yesterday.

Tonight after a dinner of exceedingly oily onions, meat, and fries (imagine coagulated oil on a plate after 30 minutes because my dad hadn't come downstairs yet... delicious), I was sitting with my mom and oldest sister when they asked me if I drank. I though they asked me if I had drank alcohol today so I lied and said no, but they were really asking me if I wanted a drink now. They told me that they would go with me across the street to buy some Whiskey and/ or Champagne. I told them it was ok. I didn't need/ want a drink tonight. They then told me I could buy alcohol any time and drink it in my room. Great. My family either thinks I'm super lame or wants me to become a reclusive alcoholic. Too funny.

Think clean, watery thoughts for me!

Friday, November 6, 2009

You Can Count On It

You can count on Senegalese people being late to everything except the mosque and a meal and it's absolutely infuriating. I've already had one discussion with Diof about how I think it's disrespectful when he makes me wait exorbitant periods of time, but I don't think how serious I am about this issue has really sunk it yet.

This morning I spent 1.5 hours waiting for Diof (1 hour of it sitting outside the office because he wasn't there yet and it was locked) before we did nothing. I waited for him to tell me that we weren't going to the village until the afternoon. Since it was 11 and we weren't leaving until 3 I stated my desire to go home, which he couldn't understand and then he made me promise that I would return by 3 because that's when the car was coming. I told him Americans honor appointments and left the office. He wanted me to go to the bank with him aka sit outside the bank for 2 hours as he does his personal business during business hours! Ah!!!! Damn you Ross School of Business and living in the US for teaching me business etiquette and common sense. I will never forgive you.

My family ate lunch late and I took a cab to get back to the office so I would be there by 3. I knew it was probably a waste, but I wanted to be punctual just in case. Obviously, I got there at 2:50 and Diof was no where in site. He wasn't there at 3 or 3:30 or at 4. Finally, at 4:15 he rolls up with a car and some stupid comments about how in Senegal the system is to have no system. I'm irate at this point and the only thing keeping my calm is the new People magazine my mom sent me. I don't know why I didn't leave. It's ridiculous that I spent 2.5 hours of my day just waiting. I have resolved to not let this happen anymore. My time can be better spent even sitting at home practicing Wolof with my 3 year old brother is more beneficial.

I only get angrier when Diof says we have to go two villages. I know that's impossible and I'm annoyed. All the people in the car with us are talking about how I need to let it go because getting frustrated isn't worth it since the Senegalese wont change. I try to explain that time is money and all Senegalese people ever talk about is money. They try to convince me that time isn't money... maybe that's why no one has any money!? Just a thought. I pass out in the back of the car so I don't have to participate in conversation anymore.

I'm angry and getting to the village is only making me angrier because we drive through Thies, which we didn't need to do, so Diof and a woman who works in the office can do personal errands. I almost got out of the car right then, but I stayed in so that we could stop several more times along the road to pick people up, to get drinks, and to just generally waste time and be inefficient. The village was no better. The women almost got in a physical altercation about who was going to sit on the executive board. I just sat back and shook hands with all the little kids coming to see the toubab.We didn't make it to the second village because it was night. I made no attempt to hide my discontent.

I'm done with villages. It was great at the beginning. It got me out of Thies and I had a purpose which was really important. Now, I want to stay in Thies and make real contacts that will become future partners. I'm done being the token toubab at meetings that Diof shows off and makes false promises about. I'm also done living by this insane lack of schedule. If people want to work with me they will be on time because otherwise I will not be there and I will leave. Period.

To give a little more context to my supremely bad mood throughout the day:

7 young people called me the extremely derogatory word for toubab
1 little boy threw a pop can at me because I didn't give him money
1 Chief de Quartier told me I would make a good first wife because I'm very beautiful, but also very lazy since I haven't learned to make ceebu jenn
3 members of my family asked me for things including: phone credit, tape, and cotton swabs
1 work partner asking me if I, because I am a woman, was too tired to walk home

The only thing that made this day better was when I finally returned home from the village and my mom asked me what was wrong and then went on this huge rant about how horrible village people are and how much better people who live in Thies are in every respect. It was very humorous and reminded me things could always be worse.

And there are some new pictures of Thies posted and a few of the village.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I woke up this morning excited knowing that I had packages waiting for me and was immediately upset by the fact that my sister completely twisted one of the under wires to my bra. This is no small thing for me. It's very upsetting. I now plan on washing my bras although I'm still incredibly happy my sister is doing my clothes. But, I digress from package euphoria...

Emily agreed to meet me at the Post Office with my slips and help me get the parcels back to my bungalow. A slight glitch in the system revealed that my mom is indeed sane and didn't send me 6 packages like I was worried about! A HUGE shout out goes to Lynn who's package was beyond amazing. Not only did it contain sorely needed shaving supplies, one of my favorite movies of all time, my favorite granola bars, PC necessities called Ziplocks, and some delicious treats, but also bubbles. This afternoon was the first time I had ever seen the three year old boy at my house have a friend over so I decided to break out the bubbles. They were mesmerized. I don't think they had ever seen bubbles and they were so excited. Well, they were excited after I correctly positioned the blower since they at first attempted to drink the bubble liquid out of the the bubble pipe. They LOVED it. And now they think I'm awesome, so thank you again Lynn. Ahmed, my little brother, has even opened up to me a lot more today and really tries to communicate. His friend who originally cowered from me in a corner when the scary toubab entered the room now is in love with bubbles. I also gave them one caramel a piece, which really confused them. I had to eat one to prove it was candy because there aren't really gummy candies here since they melt and they were confused until they popped the deliciousness in their mouthes.

Upon returning home, victorious with packages, Emily and I camped out in my room eating some delicious treats and reading magazines. We also started talking about city livin' versus the vil. As I've mentioned before, the country director has challenged my stage to stay at our sites from install until Thanksgiving. Us city dwellers have been receiving some flack about how easy it us for us since we have so many more conveniences. I definitely agree that we have more comforts, but there are definitely cons to living in a big town. When many village volunteers get to site the entire village throws a party for them. People are in the streets and everyone wants to meet them. Not even my entire family was here to greet me. While I enjoy my anonymity as just another toubab in Thies most of the time, it also makes it harder for me to find work because people aren't seeking the new, weird, yet potentially toubab out like they do in the village. It's weird to think that I will never experience the solitude of being the only toubab for miles, but at the same time being near other toubabs creates its own sense of loneliness. Where's my toubab solidarity people? Anyway... moving on.

This afternoon I have to admit I was dreading tutoring. Jamba's (my tutor) first session was intimidating and it's a constant struggle to push myself into more and more intimidating situations, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think he had gaged my level accurately from our first session and he had some role playing activities for us to do which were great. I think it's going to be a good partnership. His wife is incredibly sweet as are the other people who work at the office, including the USAID intern, and it just feels like a really comfortable place. I'm happy with it.

I left tutoring to go back to the school where I teach a computer class. I had spent over 2 hours yesterday looking for an online typing program that I could use to teach these women to type. It was really hard finding one for a French keyboard and that wasn't geared towards kids, but I found one that's great and even has hands on the screen which shows you which fingers to use! The beginning wasn't great. Mme Cissa couldn't get past the first lesson: typing "f" and "g" in different combinations. 45 minutes later success and she really took off! Another woman joined us and it started a little competition which really helped their progress. They got so excited they reached a new level and were really happy. It made me feel great to accomplish something. I know that I just found a program and showed it to these women and cheered them on, but I haven't had a lot of accomplishments on my own so it was great. Mme Cissa is the head secretary for the school and she writes everything down because she can't use a computer. If she can really learn to use Word, Excel, the internet, and to type well, it will help her workload, create a better file system, and improve her efficiency. Computer classes are definitely not what I want my service to be about, but right now teaching two women to type is rewarding.

I do want to add that my day wasn't all roses because on my way home, I was riding my bike, a group of boys chased after calling me the extremely derogatory word for toubab. Even me responding in Wolof didn't deter their mean chant for a couple of blocks, but I have refused to let it ruin my day and I wish there was a way to exact revenge.

Well, it's time for "Marina" aka a ridiculous Brazilian soap opera dubbed in French and if I don't watch it I will be unable to participate in any discussion my family will have tomorrow. Wish me a good dinner!

Ps. A couple more pictures of my house are up!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Boring

I can tell that attempting to blog every day might be a little more difficult than I originally thought because today I wasn't feeling feel so I really haven't done anything.

The main event of the morning was going to the post office. I got my first letter that was sent to my very own PO box! Shout out to Lynn for the letter. Letters are arriving quickly in about a week to 10 days so everyone should send me letters. Hers even included a picture so that's extra points. I also got a text from my site mate Emily that she has slips for a ridiculous number of packages that I will pick up tomorrow. I'm not going to disclose the number of packages, but I will tell you that I've devised a may to get them all home. Wish me luck. Update tomorrow.

The rest of the day was spent resting in my room since my mom told me I didn't look good and she didn't want to see me until dinner. I'm definitely feeling better after resting and I don't have a super busy day tomorrow so hopefully I'll be back to normal.

Keep sending me questions! Then I'll have something to write about!

Until next time!