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.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Endlessly going over all of the gifts that I'm bringing home for the holidays has been a major time waster as I count down the days to America. The Artisan Expo was a huge gift purchasing event, I did some shopping yesterday in Thies, I plan to do a little bit more in Dakar next week, and today Katherine and I went to Diourbel (a large city, although smaller than Thies) 70ish kilometers due west of Thies. The goal was to pick up traditional Senegalese wooden chairs that Katherine, Tamar (who lets all remember is currently basking in the glories of the US of A), and I had special ordered. We wanted "Corps de la Paix 2009 - 2011" carved on the bottoms of the chairs.
The orders went in before the Artisan Expo, but obviously weren't completed in time so I left Thies this morning and Katherine left Bambey and we met in Thies. Two fabulous things happened on my way to Diourbel. 1) the woman sitting next to me in the sept-place popped open a lap-top and watched episodes of "24" for the entire ride and 2) when I arrived in Diourbel I saw a fleet of old buses. These buses were tour buses for the Loire Valley in France. After now having been to both the Loire Valley and Diourbel I can safely say that one is more beautiful than the other. I met Katherine at the bank and then we headed to a restaurant which served us cold sandwiches even though we saw them preparing the food. Mysteries of Senegal. After we finished lunch we called Mamadou, the wood carver, and asked if we could come over. Katherine has been harassing him all week asking about the chairs' statuses and he told her yesterday that they were done. So, when we called him and he told us to come over we did.
What we found at the Mamadou's shop was not completed chairs, but Senegalese man-boys of various ages furiously sanding (with sandpaper in their hands, not electric sanders) all sic of the chairs we had ordered. There was no carving on the chairs either. Mamadou looks horrified that we arrived although we arrived at the time he told us to get there and we had called him to give him that much more warning. We settled into a nice little wait in a quasi-garbage dump that absolutely reeked of urine/ we saw a lot of men peeing. Just the kind of way I like to spend my Saturday afternoons!
After several hours of furiously sanding, carving, and staining and we were ready to go. That is after we bought more things and a gaggle of boys helped us carrying everything out to get a taxi. Katherine had to take her two bags back to Bambey, but I had to take my chairs and Tamar's chairs back to Thies. To say that me attempting to carry four chairs in a rice sack that are both half my height and half my weight was an understatement and a lot of people at the Diourbel garage told me just how ridiculous I looked. Katherine and I also remembered at the very last second that we wont see each other until January so we had a quick goodbye before we both put our "garage game faces" on to haggle about baggage prices; I was especially proud of how little I paid. The ride back was pretty easy as well and I made it back to my house completely exhausted.
Back at my house is where I realized that I'm completely screwed. The measurements that Mamadou gave us were not what the chairs actually ended up being so they don't fit in my suitcase and I'll have to wrap them in a rice sack and check them as a second piece of luggage. This is fortunate because my bag is already really full of gifts here in Thies and I have a lot more stowed away in Dakar at the regional house. I don't know how I'm going to carry everything. This is my plea: If you see a twenty-something, very attractive girl walking around Dulles airport loaded down with stuff and wearing highly inappropriate clothes for the weather - it's me! Help me carry all of my stuff!
There's some pictures in the "Softball Season" album if you'd like to check out today's shananigans.
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
I also have Skype so make me one of your contacts. My Skype name is: alyssatitche
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)