Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mango Mania

Mango Count: 50! Ive consumed 50+ mangoes fresh off of the trees in vil. This number means something when I add in that it was in one months time. Excessive, I know. To redeem myself just a bit, they are bush mangoes that are most likely a fraction of the size of any imported mangoes youre going to find on the states side. I could go on a Forest Gump rant about the ways Ive seen this versatile fruit prepared.
Now that we have eaten our way through the bush mangoes, hope has been bridged with the next fruiting grafted variety, which is twice as big.
Ive passed out 2555 tree sacks and counting for people around my village (Heh, "my village people") to start their own tree nurseries. Most people  Everyone wants to grow mango and cashew trees. Trees are wonderful. The reason Im in Africa, even. I just wish that the landscape had a chance of lush and diverse succession. The land is now only sparsely sprinkled with fruit, Baobob, and the introduced Neem trees. Its a big wish of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Tomorrow a group of agfos (agroforestry volunteers- n., a treeloving person of a sustainable-thinking mind and farm-worked body. Also see: treewhisperer) are travelling into the Gambia for cashew transformation training. Because nothing seems to be well-organized, I dont know what the itenerary holds, but my hopes are high and my mind receptive. Update coming soon!

Unexpected day

   I left Kolda city just a little too late and missed the first car to my road town 110Km/80mi to the east. I shrugged my shoulders and was guided over to an infamous overcrowded mini-bus. My road time was 5 hours. That is twice as long as it could have been on a good day, but those dont happen often in the realm of transport anyways. During my transition from one car to the second, which would cover the last 7 km, some sad person stole my ipod right out of my pocket. another shoulder shrug.
   After just a moment I was pleased because I realized my first reaction was pity.   So, I started to think about that weird relationship that we have with objects. It is weird to give something that kind of hold over us. I beat the system. I wasnt thrown into anger or made anxious by some thing. Maybe it starts when we're taught to take care of our possessions that we work so hard for, but it gets lost somewhere and is taken too far.
"On the road again..." I finally made it to my road town and was able to stop off at Dan's (AKA Momoudi) village to help with some work. Once it cooled off enough to work, we headed to the women's garden. Task: dig the well a bit deeper.
We realized we couldnt send both of the guys down the 5 meter deep well with little ol' me to pull them up, we switched spots. So, for an hour and a half, Dan and I slowly dug our way around the well, sending pails of clay up and getting knocked in the head with the women's descending buckets.
Im quite happy with the accomplishment.

We worked until the wind picked up and rolling clouds threatened us with the first rain. This time they followed through and -ah haaa, sound from the cinemas- down came cooling droplets.
There is no way I could not have been more dirty if I tried. I was drenched from the well now with no hope of drying, I had so much clay smudged into my clothes they almost appeared cleaner, and days of sand in my hair.
This could have been an awful day, but I think I made the most of it.

Blue sky thinking

Ive been back in West Africa for a week now since my visit back home to America.  After discussing it with other volunteers, I think “Shiny” is an appropriate word to describe my much enjoyed time home. Taking a break allowed me to step away for a semi- retrospect view.
I am grateful for this opportunity to see another little piece of the world, meet hospitable and sometimes strange people, broaden my worldview, and hopefully help out a bit. I don’t think I answered questions from home very well because I used my friends and family as an outlet, jumping to complaints too quickly.
In my time away I would like to say that I have been able to test my strengths, definitely reveal my weaknesses, stretch my patience, polish up my courage and even open myself up a bit (big deal). I know my personal growth is only a secondary objective, but I feel like Africa has done me justice and I hope to give back just as much.