Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rookie Mistakes

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This morning I made a rookie mistake. Today is the first of the month, which means that bank lines are giant because everyone is trying to withdraw from their new paychecks. Yesterday I spent all of my money on amoeba medication to so I had no choice but to wait in a exasperatingly long line and text Tamar every minute or so with my progress. I was the 23rd person in line and it took close to an hour an a half for me to get to the ATM. I have no idea what people are doing in there. Checking balances? Using multiple cards? Enjoying the air conditioning? It is amazing how long it takes people to withdraw cash.

Cash money in hand I walked over to the post office. The first of the month apparently brings chaos to my friends with the mail as well, but it also brings packages!!! SHOUT OUTS:

Shirley - Thank you so much for another great letter! I hope your knitting is going better and I can't wait to try one of your California rolls when I come home!

Lynn - You're package was out of this world. I absolutely cannot wait to make Matzo ball soup! Tamar and I are planning on going to Dakar for Passover, but one can never have enough Matzo ball soup so I'll definitely be making a homemade and delicious batch myself! I'm also really excited about the St. Patrick's Day cookies because we have to say goodbye to some of our third year PCV friends that day. Green cookies will be an amazing send off. While I was opening your package, Ahmed walked in on me and saw the Power Ranger band-aids. Lets just say that the supply is now depleted. Unfortunately, my camera was dead and we didn't have power so there's no photographic evidence! Thanks again for everything!

Matt - Onion rings in a bag: you really know the way to my heart! I'm already eating my way through the dried fruit. I doubt it will last another 23 days! And your card was AMAZING. I loved it. Thanks!

After the post office and after an almost too late lunch at home, I rushed to Massa Massa to meet Leslie, the American woman who exported some of Dioss' cards last fall. She's back in Senegal making the rounds of her suppliers and she needed a translator to help her at the artisanal village. There, we went over her latest shipments, problems (trying to explain "mold" when you don't know the word is extremely difficult by the way), future orders, and samples. The majority of what she buys from the artisanal village are leather bags with batick (tie dye) designs. It was fairly exhausting, but also pretty interesting to see how Leslie goes through the design process with the producer and how she remains objective for her niche market clients. The artisanal village was followed up with some delicious lasagna at Massa Massa - so much better than what my family served for dinner!

Back at home we are still without electricity (going on 14 hours) so I sat around, in the dark, with my host family. I don't like having a ton of cash on me here so I wrote up the usual receipt and went to give my mom the money. This is totally normal and we have it down to a science. I've never thought about when I give it to her or anything like that so I was surprised when she pushed me back into my room when I came to give her the money. Once in the safety/ pitch blackness of my room she told me that she didn't want my host dad to see our transaction. This blew my mind. I always gave the money to my mom because she's the one who is around and because women usually use money for food, schooling, and other necessities while men might use the money for other goods (obviously a generalization). What I realized was, the money I give my family for food and rent is my mom's and Khady's play money! She didn't want my dad to see the extra cash she has on the side. Classic.


  1. Alyssa,

    Just some of the reasons that you have to be in the Peace Corps for two years, you would miss figuring out the money situation.


  2. I am stunned! Does your dad think that he is delivering room and board to you for free?!!!!! I have contended throughout your service that he is an extraordinary man and this proves it. I don't condemn your mom. I understand where she is coming from. It's just fascinating. It gets back to Woodward and Bernstien "follow the money" to understand the dynamic of any situation.

  3. (This post is really from Lynn. I'm in California with Claire - she says "hello" - so original)

    Glad the box arrived in time!!
    I hope the meds aren't bothering you any more and that your GI tract is recovering.