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, June 4, 2011
The past couple of months have been packed with trips and checklists and countdowns. The push to fit in everything I haven't done, everything I've wanted to do, and everyone I want to visit is in full swing. One thing left on the list was a "friend" trip to Mar Lodj. I've actually been to Mar Lodj twice before with my mom and then with CJ, but never for a girls weekend on the island. Jackie and Katherine still had Mar Lodj and visiting Tamar on their checklists and we all know it's fairly impossible for us to be separated!
Thursday morning Katherine had trouble getting a car, but then absolutely flew to Thies and caught Jackie and I a little offguard so, I happened to be the last person to arrive at the garage. We were people 5,6, and 7 in the sept-place and after I had my inevitable confrontation with the men taking the money for the car we were off to Joal. On Wednesday I had picked up some food supplies in Thies and Jackie grabbed some veggies in Pout, but in Joal (where we had to change cars) we were on the lookout for some more veggies and shrimp. After being told that we could walk to the market, which we later found out was 5k away, we bought some eggplant but failed in our acquisition of shrimp. A tour of Joal hotel then ensued as we looked for lunch to no avail. Arriving at the second garage where we could find a car to Ndangan (the town on the mainland where you get a boat to Mar Lodj) a man told us that he had a restaurant where we could get a lunch serve with a base of bread. For some reason unknown to the three of us we actually followed him. We are so happy we did.
The restaurant was absolutely spotless, featured actual glassware, and overlooked a fishery. It was a weird place for sure, but when they served us a 1/4 chicken, salad, fries, and bread for 1500 CFA we were pretty happy. It was delicious and a great start to our trip. The good luck continued at the garage where people tried to force us to be the first people into a 14 person mini-bus. A taxi driver approached the three, girl toubabs to try and sell us on purchasing a cab, obviously. The ridiculous part was that the taxi was the same price as a pass for the completely void bus. Excellent. We took a fairly comfortable cab all the way to Ndangan where we dropped Tamar's local name and were welcomed with open arms and told which boat to take.
In Mar Lodj we were greeted by Tamar, her friend Laura who is visiting from the States, and Byron who took a boat trip with the girls across the delta earlier that day. The group of us took a tour around the village of Mar Lodj and greeted Tamar's host family. The cultural exchange and use of local languages (unfortunately Tamar's site is predominately Sereer and I speak Wolof) we had a drink at a hole in the wall bar and then headed home to make a delicious pasta dinner full of nutritious vegetables. Katherine and I then cuddled in her bug hut on Tamar's porch under the huge night sky.
Byron left early on day 2 of our trip to Mar Lodj after a great Tapalapa breakfast. Tapalapa aka village bread is a dense and delicious bread that only poor people eat. City folks eat terrible, processed, machine baguettes and make fun of me when I find village bread and buy it. It's a treat for Jackie, Katherine and I to have Tapalapa and an even bigger treat when paired with fresh honey! Breakfast prepared Tamar, Laura, and I for a walk into the village to buy supplies for dinner. Soon enough we all piled on a charette, horse cart, and headed off to a campement across the island where we spent the afternoon sunning ourselves, going swimming in the delta, and discussing how crabs breath.
We took a long walk back to Tamar's house and started making our chicken dinner. We wanted to make a chicken dinner American Style for the women in Tamar's family. Chicken is a big treat and we wanted to see how they would react to our cooking. The plans were so well laid, but they obviously didn't work out. It was past 7 by the time the chickens arrived and were butchered, the grill kept going out because the wood was too wet, and we only had one gas to work with. Although we wanted to grill the chicken, a pan fry was still delicious. And the women actually loved our sweet potato chips and onion rings! That's right we made onion rings instead of onion sauce. Anyone who knows me well, knows my weakness for onion rings. They were delicious. Katherine and I were really excited about them.
This morning Jackie, Katherine, and I packed up our stuff and headed back to site. The trip was a really nice break. Tamar was a great hostess. She was probably very stressed, but it was very relaxing for me! Mar Lodj is beautiful, my family wasn't annoying me, and I had a minute to take a breath before the insanity of the next 6.5 weeks starts up.
Pictures of the trip are up in the "Cape Verde" album. Check them out.
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)