Thursday, March 29, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Speaking of tasting, I just engulfed an entire papaya. Granted it wasnt the whopping kilo that the fruit lady was trying to persuade me to buy, but my tummy it still uncomfortable satisfied. Yes, I am quite capable of saying what I want, haggling a little, and standing my ground (in PULAAR). Now that I think of it I may be a more abrasive person in this language, but that is only in response to the need. Im mean with purpose.
My village decided that we should have a demo a few days after I received my tree sacks. We biked to the surrounding villages, chatted with the chief, and invited them to our training. Tijane, my counterpart, called me out, "Homa would you like to talk?" at every village. My initial response was nervous laughter, but really all they wanted to hear was that I was happy and thought their village was nice. These little traditions are sometimes an annoyance, but definitely not the hardest thing to deal with.
I woke up to my compound rethatching the womens' hut, where both of my moms and sister stay.
They also molded some mud bricks to rebuild the Kitchen Hut that will surely be the death of a few people. I will not help them cook because I cannot stand the smoke build up. Once again, I dont know how the women do it.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
"Always there has been an adventure just around the corner - and the world is still full of corners!" -Roy Chapman Andrews, quoted in Remarkable Creatures
Ive fallen into a comfortable village routine that leaves me feeling humbly accomplished as the sun ties the day off.
Now that Ive got a loose plan with a penciled in calendar, Ive shifted my thoughts to what goes on beside the daily tasks. Im tempted to Google the population count of people with this lifestyle that is new and still regularly surprising to me. I live in a town of less than 500 people that is a nice 2 hour bike ride from my bank and post office. Mind you, it does take just as long on public transportation due to tip-toeing along the poorly managed roads, stopping at every village to deposit passengers.
My area is not exactly a tourist attraction, so most of the munchkins in my village and those without reason to travel have never seen an American/white person a.k.a. “Toubob.” This makes everyone very curious and interested in me. Perhaps with little luck, I’ll be able to break some of the American stereotypes. From what I understand, they think that we are all rich, don’t or cant work hard, don’t have a worry in the world, own weapons, and are aware that we only marry one person, but some seem convinced that we can become one of their wives. In short, I’m the shiny new toy.
This attention is appreciated when it results in more cabbage on my side of the bowl or a full bucket of bath water, fresh from the well, but this is nearly a fascination that leaves me with little privacy. My name (Homa J.) is chanted when I walk through vil, everyone wants to greet me or have a look around my room, and they even ask for my clothing or to take them to America.
Ive become this person that I do not recognize sometimes. If any of my friends (or their families) were asked how long it took me to warm up and spat out what was on my mind, they would probably reveal that I was annoyingly shy for the first year. Being under the microscope has expedited that process, which may correlate with my stress level. Although I previously would have considered myself a morning person, I do not want to shake the hand of every person and ask three versions of “Did you wake up?” to know that they are going to say “Peace Only.”
–frazzled—I do it anyways because it is part of the culture, but only after I have adequate wake-up time behind my locked door. After lunch is an opportune time to sit in my thoughts and do what I please as everyone seems to retreat to their huts to nap or get out of the heat. Did I say everyone… I meant everyone except the children that are then somehow satisfyily stuffed with rice and playing. I take this time to read or study. I would like to sit visibly outside under the mango tree instead of closing myself into my room, but herds of kids staring and whispering are rather distracting no matter how frivolous my thoughts. Sometimes I just want to be in a quite (and perhaps air-conditioned) room with a sizeable desk. Don’t jump to hasty conclusions, Im in no way being unsociable or “cushioned in cotton.” This aspect of solitude is more important than I realized. How much time do you spend with your computer, phone, or books?
So, Ive found a little comfort in my schedule that now has time for those things important to me that they will not understand here. The word “integrate” is overused among volunteers, like we are going to actually blend in with our 4 year old language level, pigment-lacking skin, and the privileged, but incompetent persona.
I am here learning and hopefully teaching a little in return, living in what sometimes feels like a different world, and I am (maybe most importantly) enjoying this experience.
"Every traveller must remember the glowing sense of happiness, from the simple consciousness of breathing in a foreign clime," Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle
Friday, March 2, 2012
They actually brought us breakfast as we were packing in the soil... I promise I really dont want rice porridge that badly.
The bird is not in its ounces and inches, but in its relations to Nature –Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was presented a gift from my family the other day for my share of cotton picking! I found it difficult to accept a gift from them, but rejection was even more inappropriate. They gave me material to make a "complet" dress set and explained that we would all wear our matching tie-dye clothing together for the next party, baptism, or wedding. See, surely like me.
Contact: I lost my phone 2 weeks ago, but was surprisingly content in village without having any outside contact. I just took a step further off of the grid...
Dont worry nana, I cant stay out here without a phone (temp number: 77 214 1018) . The best part is that someone found it! And the cheery Senegalese man refuses to return it.