Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brutally Honest

It will never get old for me or anyone else to comment 101 times about how hot Senegal is. Uncomfortably hot. Even the wind is a problem when its blowing the sand, which is all that is around.
Its not all bad by far. I had a rather entertaining evening making attaya, which is hot, over-sugared tea that is poured into shot size glasses from 16 inches above to form a foam topping (it looks like childrens work when they make it). I spilled a lot of tea, but it was all taken with good humor. The best part may have been translating random words and having small conversations between English, French, and my local Pulaar. They love to ask if I'm married or if I will give them American wives. Again, all taken in good humor.
I stayed up past my bedtime, but to make it worse, I stayed up drinking tiny cups of cafine. My stuffy cement room was less welcoming than usual. I've almost grown accustom to sleeping in my own sweat, one of my many accomplishments (like typing on this Frençh kèyboàrd). Once I fell asleep, I woke up because of the rain that I'm often praying for. It literally sounded like cats and dogs were hitting my TIN roof. But I cant complain about rain, right?
... A couple of hours later I couldn't put on my "appropriate to be seen in" clothes fast enough. I had to make a dash to the bathroom/hole-in-the-floor-room. I'm happy to say that I'm not yet an official volunteer. I do expect that less glamorous part of the experience, just later rather than sooner.
---the power just went out---

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cyber Cafe Update

Im back to my village in Mbour and we found a cyber cafe!! Although Im pretty happy to be able to email and communicate with home, this French keyboard is complicating my life right now. Fact: Africa is more humid than South Carolina. This feeling may be intinsified by the fact that AC does not exist.
Ill be embarassing myself in Pulaar for 2 more weeks in Mbour, then Ill be tested to see if Im actually learning anything. The language is tough. It comes together slowly, but surely (especially with this extreme learning method).
My family seems to like me. I start my day around 7 with babies crying and women sweeping. My Neene always insists on getting my kettle or bucket for bathing. I found out the hard way that you do NOT talk to anyone before washing in the morning... its bad luck. I have a bean sandwich every morning. mmm. Apparently the stereotype is that Americans love beans! Language class has been pretty great. I feel like Im progressing too slowly sometimes, but I am definately putting the time in.
We have started a garden behind the local school! It now contains jaxatu/bitter tomato, eggplant, peppers, and scallions.
Real life: I feel overwhelmed emotionally and sensorily on a daily basis. I also get to laugh at my 101 language/culture faux pas. The food is good (although im going to need supplements) and the people are hospitable.
Wish list: protein powder, aaaany kind of snacks, sanitizer, nice pens...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Off the Grid: Mboor

For the last week I've been in the "town" of Mboor near a few other PC trainees. I am first off happy with all of the people I get to be around, especially my Pulaar classmates, Ben & Jordan. Language has been tough, but we have literally been immersed in it for only 6 days! Yes, it has taken that long to be able to go through the extensive greetings.
My family seems to like me. I try to sit with them and occasionally hold a broken conversation. Basically I'm perfecting my awkwardness. On night one it must have taken my Neene and Babba 30 minutes to tell me that my NEW Senegalese name is Mariyama. Oh. I get a new name. Thanks for the heads up! It's 100% live and learn around here.
I was also the butt of the joke when I brought my laundry out to my Neene when she apparently asked for my CANDLE so I could wash. Not my clothing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Things I've Learned

* How to really wash laundry
*"lick all of the rice off of your hands after you eat"
*Squat toilets are good for your prostate, bladder & uterus
*Dont say that your going to eat babies or children... the Senegalese think that we do.
*The Left hand is the "poop hand" and it is entirely inappropriate to use it when eating, shaking hands, passing or receiving things... it is just entirely taboo.

*Its possible to sleep through 90* sticky nights without AC
*The Senegalese enjoy a variety of juices, all of which leave me with a sour face