Yup, I'm actually doing it. I'm taking the plunge. Starting August 12th I will be in Senegal working as a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday was Rosh Hashanah so I met Tamar in Dakar and we had a lovely evening at the Israeli ambassador's house with the handful of other Jews who currently live in Senegal. Since Rosh Hashanah not only ushers in a new year, but a new month, it roughly corresponded with the end of Ramadan, which has a much greater influence on my daily life here. Most Senegalese Muslims celebrate Ramadan after 30 days have elapsed, but they also must see the moon. This causes scheduling problems as one never knows which day the end of Ramadan celebration will actually be. I had my fingers crossed that it would be tomorrow so I wouldn't have to beat it back from Dakar this morning, no such luck.
I had no idea what to expect this morning in terms of transportation and knew that my family would be really upset if I couldn't make it back. When I arrived at the garage in Dakar I barely recognized it. Usually I have to elbow my way through the crowd and jostle for a spot in the car. Today it was a ghost town. I jumped out of my cab and at first didn't see a car to Thies. Even on other holidays getting to Thies isn't too big of a deal since it's close to Dakar and the second biggest city in Senegal, but today there were no options. So when I realized that I was the seventh person in a seven passenger car and that it was the last car leaving Dakar destined for Thies I was pretty happy. Since most people traveled yesterday I made it to Thies in record time, which was actually a little scary because we passed a terrible accident right outside of Thies and I think I saw a dead body on the side of the road. Creepy.
My family was very happy to see that I made it back in time to celebrate Korite, the holiday at the end of Ramadan with them. All I missed was the sheep slaughter, which Ahmed told me was fantastic, but which I have already had the luxury of photo-documenting. All of the women were sitting in the courtyard working on their individual jobs. Awa was butchering the chickens, Khady was refining the boys' buterching of the sheep, Jeenaba was cutting onions, and the two little girls, Khady and Kotou, were working on the potatoes. I wowed them with how fast I can peel potatoes with a peeler and I was even allowed to cut some potatoes into fries. A huge step up in my family's confidence of my cooking skills. Unfortunately, I couldn't devote my entire afternoon to peeling and slicing potatoes because the rainy season plus a closed room spells mold and I had to do a lot of cleaning. Including taking down my mosquito net to wash and bleach it since it had some mold on it. Since I hadn't cleaned it during the year that I've been in Senegal it was probably a good idea anyway.
A huge "lunch" at 5pm was followed by a lull until later this evening when we all got dressed. I caused a big stir in my ridiculous outfit and everyone told me how great I looked even though I could only sit in one position because the outfit is so tight. I was expecting Korite to be like Tabaski last year when getting dressed and doing make-up was a big deal, but everyone kind of did their own thing. I walked around with the little kids, who as for money on this holiday (kind of like Halloween in the States), and then sat around my house. I posted a bunch of pictures most of which were taking by the little kids in my house so they aren't completely in focus. I enjoyed my family's lack of enthusiasm for the holiday because it meant I could do my own thing and participate in a way I felt comfortable instead of being dragged around from house to house. I took out a big bag of candy earlier in the night to share as a treat and when my 31 year old host brother had a showdown with the 6 year old Kotou over candy and was serious, I took that as my cue to leave and hide out in my room!
PCV Alyssa Titche Corps de la Paix B.P. 957 Thiès, Senegal West Africa
* Make sure it's "Par Avion" by Air and that there's a sticker * Please put insurance on packages and even letters because customs officers will rip open both looking for goods and cash * If you are amazing and sending me a package write "Religious Materials" or "Personal Products" on the outside to further deter customs officials, also it is best to buy a flat rate box to reduce the custom fees I have to pay on my end! * Number your letters so I know if I'm missing one as mail will probably take 2-3 weeks to get from you to me
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Cell Phone! Call me on Skype! 221-77-330-48-40
Wish List: Goodies, Treats... and Necessities
100 Calorie Packs
Jiff Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
Mixed CDs (Leigh and Alex sent one and it was AMAZING)