Sunday, February 27, 2011


The past couple of days have been a haze; literally and metaphorically. Since coming back to Thies after WAIST, Senegal has decided to b@#$h slap us across the face with the hot season. Last year I don't even remember the cold season - because it wasn't cold. I never needed a sweatshirt and never woke up freezing cold in the morning like I had been the past couple of weeks. Because it never got cold last year, I don't really remember a return to the norm aka oppressive heat. Let's just say that the cold season is over and there was no gentle reminder that the heat would return nor was there a daily increase in temperature each day. A flip was switched and a good 15 degrees were added to the daily heat index. In addition to the return of the heat is dust storms. From the Mauritanian PCVs and even the PCVs in northern Senegal we hear stories of sandstorms and having to stay in the house to wait out the swirling dust. Thies definitely isn't experiencing these types of storms, but the sky is hazy and absolutely everything is filthy. Just covered in dust. My bed, my desk, my floor, my fan...everything. It's gross. The heat and the dust are being exacerbated by this:

A picture of all of my family's empty water containers sitting sadly in the courtyard.

We haven't had water since I returned home from Dakar and it's getting really old really fast. This morning Jeenaba and Awa pulled water for hours and hours. They were both exhausted and I felt terrible for them since they still had to make lunch and dinner. I was not allowed to pull water because I'm useless for most things, but I did try and help by taking care of this little one for hours and hours.

Photo courtesy of Ahmed.

The metaphorical haze I'm experiencing is due to epic boredom. Boredom is sweeping the Thies region. With boredom comes restlessness, bitchiness, and hermit like tendencies. I know that the last one doesn't really make sense. When one is bored it does make sense to interact with the crazy family shouting in the courtyard outside one's window, but one can only take so much discussion about roasting peanuts or watching Senegalese sitcoms. I can no longer watch Senegalese television. The boredom is a manifestation of not having a lot planned for next week, an insanely low key weekend after the madness that was WAIST, and the feeling that I'm so close yet so, so, so far from completing my service. Fortunately, I have a lot of things to look forward to in March which is only 1 day away!

This last little anecdote is totally unrelated to "haze:"

Myself and other PCVs often find ourselves dumbfounded by what Senegalese people do not like. Take for instance no-bake cookies. No-bake cookies contain peanut butter, chocolate, butter, and sugar. Delicious. My family didn't like them although they like all of the ingredients. I always say that my problem with ceebu jenn isn't the ingredients; it's the frequency, which it is. But, I have discovered a dish, much like no-bake cookies, where I like all of the ingredients, but the preparation makes it almost unedible. Tonight I made macarroni with tomotatoes canned from my grandma's garden. Amazing. My family brought me nglach anyway. Nglach is millet (delicious) covered with a peanut butter, yogurt, chocolate sauce (should be delicious, but is not. I like all of those things, but they make a bad, bad, bad combination.

Sorry for the disjointed and hazy post. I hope I can get back on track this coming week and get things moving again!


  1. Alyssa,

    I think Ahmed has a future as a photographer, that is a really nice of you and the baby. Hang in there and have some fun.


  2. Boy your pictures are such a juxtapostiion. Those empty water jugs look incredible dry/vulnerable. It is a good thing your family is so strong and united because it is clear it takes the whole team to run that household. Those little boys are incredibly lucky to have you there while their family works, works , works. You are part of the team and the joy in the faces of those little boys reflect how happy they are you are there.

  3. Well, I thought I'd be original and comment that Ahmed's photographic skills have really improved, but I find this is redundant. Oh well. Sorry about the haze in Senegal. Our Michigan haze is white and covers the ground. It's cold and slippery.
    I'm saddened to know that after all this time you still don't know how to draw water. And we thought you were so trainable!!