Friday, October 22, 2010

Rage, Hope, Coma

Today's day featured three distinct states of being...


Yesterday while I was trying to stay awake at the child abuse formation I wrote Matt a letter. Today's goal was to mail it. I had a couple of errands to run so I threw the letter in my bag and headed off to the post office. After a quick trip to the bank and to the toubab grocery store, I entered the post office and had a public tantrum. The same mean man who refused to sell me stamps a few months ago was working and he didn't even greet me as I approached the booth. I handed him the letter and told him that it was going to the US of A. He took the letter, looked at it, and thrust it back at me. He absolutely refused to sell me stamps because one corner of the envelope had evidently rubbed up against a small speck of dirt in my bag and had caused a stain. The stain was small, not even close to the address, and was on the back of the envelope. Obviously, this letter is unfit to be sent. I asked him if it was a joke because I just found the entire thing so ludicrious. He told me he would not send the letter. I then switched tactics and told him I just wanted to buy stamps - oddly in the same amount that I knew the letter would cost. Nope. I then completely lost it and went on a Wolof rant for everyone to hear. It included such exception phrases as "are you joking," "this makes no sense," and the piece de resistance: "this is why nothing works in this country." This last exasperated phrase was hurled at the post office man's back as he left his booth and went into an interior room to ignore me.

Rage isn't a strong enough word to describe my emotion. I was fuming. It's his job to sell stamps. Why the hell would he care if my letter doesn't make it to it's destination because it has a stain? Capitalism, just sell me stamp. This little episode took place in the "letter/ Western Union" portion of the post office. I exited this building and went to see my friends in the "package" building where I told them that the stamp man was being very mean to me. They completely agreed that he's mean and they agreed to sell me their stamps, which are only supposed to go on packages, but they could make an exception for me. They are great. Shout out to Ana and Shirley for the letters! Thank you!

At this point I was in a good mood because in a childish fit of spite, instead of just leaving my letter with my package friends I returned to the letter building to mail it in the box directly in front of the mean stamp man. Vengeance. The rage soon returned when some school boys lobbed a rock over the fence of their school and it hit me in the head. It was a small rock so it scared me more than anything so I tore into the school compound to find a teacher who really couldn't have cared less. At least I tried.

Totally unrelated: We had eggs for lunch. Excellent.


Emily and I have had intentions of working together for approximately a year and have just gotten around to actually putting that plan into action. For the last several months Emily has been working with a very diligent and motivated women's group on micro-gardening. They are very interested in parlaying this into a money making activity. Today Emily took me to the women's meeting place to talk about how I could get involved with the group. The leader, Sabelle, is very dynamic and knows what she's talking about. She's also one of the most open people I've met in Senegal and really wants guidance. Sabelle seemed open to all of our suggestions and they already have an impressive accounting system in place. They need to better define their organizational structure and understand that now that they have money they need to invest it in their projects, not keep it in a box under the treasurer's bed. Emily and I are going back on Monday to have a meeting with all of the women. It's sure to be a catastrophe, but hopefully it will be a productive catastrophe and we will have a date for a future meeting.


After meeting with the women's group, Emily and I picked up the new PCV, Clare who is an Urban Ag PCV, at the center for dinner. Emily and I had planned a "dinner party" with Kether at her apartment since she actually has a kitchen. We made absolutely amazing bean burritos thanks to salsa and nacho cheese from America (thanks mom) and creme fraiche that we found at the toubab store. Kether has two roomates who are JICA volunteers, Japan's Peace Corps equivalent, and Kether has a Senegalese boyfriend so it was a multicultural affair to say the least. The concept of a burrito had to be explained in the language franca which was Franglish. An excellent evening overall even though we all suffered from a food coma after way too much Mexican food and some casual drinking.

I returned home to find my family eating diner, at 11pm, and watching a DVD of TLC music videos. There could not have been a better ending to the day.


  1. Alyssa, I love that you marched back in to the letter office and mailed Matt's letter!!! It will be really interesting to see if Senegal has mail tampering laws because I suspect the "mean guy" is going to rip it out of the bin and throw it away....dirty mail belongs in the garbage! The whole thing is an exact parody of Seinfeld's soup Nazi. I can't wait for your next visit. What will he do?

  2. I'll be on the lookout for the letter! Speaking of letters, I received the thank you letter from one of your girls at camp. I'm amazed and slightly embarrassed that a Senegalese child has better English handwriting than me...

  3. I have those same feelings every day! You are doing well and it is fun to watch.

    Uncle Rich

  4. Alyssa, If it makes you feel any better, we have a real live box Nazi here at the greenville post office named Pearl. She opened your last box from the bottom, after I had completely sealed it. Her reason I had alcohol hand cleaners. I guess bad service is world wide. Love Ma