Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Ten days in Dakar is too long for a village kid. I said it. My bag is packed, I just finished the perishables-- travelling supplied ample justification, and Im ready for the 13+ hours back to site. Ive had my fill of  city hustle and the abrasiveness of the Wolof language; I miss the kind people in village, made with hours of love and an open fire food, and the reassurance of overseeing work being done. 
In the last week, however, Ive made up for a load of lounging time. After three days of medical checkups that covered ever infection and every ailment Ive reported over the last 18 months, we retreated to Ngor Island, a sliver of land a dollar canoe ride off the Dakar shore. We actually stayed in the red house in the photo for the equivalent of 30$ a night. It was easy to get to, provided exactly what I needed for a couple quite and relaxing days, and the restaurant cooked plates of fish that made me feel like a real person. If that doesn't make sense, I dont care. 
I emerged from the seaside getaway for a little fun with other people because apparently being an old lady is only okay to some extent. I have no prospect of being a cat lady, I dont care for them much. So, back in the city we kicked off WAIST weekend. We dressed up to our appropriate themes and the games began! My team of superheroes was seriously lacking power for home-run hits (no offense to the ladies), but we still played... even after the mercy rule set in. 
We didnt slow down for two days of softball, one night of bowling, and quite a few family dinners. Im happy to say no volunteers were seriously injured during this weekend of noosing (FUN in PC Senegal lingo).
 I gotta roll out for now, until next time!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dakar week

I'm not as excited about this trip as previous getaways to Dakar. Its still very much a weird bubble of foreigners speaking a handful of languages, real supermarkets and apartment buildings, street vendors of all sorts, swarms of taxis and hustling drivers, electricity and temperature controlled water on demand... It's just not as new and shiny. 
Maybe I don't trust myself at arms length with these ideas that basically make up 1/3 of my dreams. I'm fully aware of my tendency to binge (action verb) and I don't think I can afford that temporary pleasure and guilt. I'll be in the Dakar area for a whopping week for a range of Peace Corps plans. I'm wrapping up my MIDservice med appointments now: Tb results TBD, teeth clean, heart ticking, mind there, spinal & ear canals reportedly small, bugs not too many. Have I really been here for 17 months?
As long as I don't get ran over or poisoned by fine cuisine in the big city, I'll be returning to the Thies training center for the all volunteer conference. I'm not gonna lie, from the perspective of a fresh, bright-eyed volunteer, last year's conference did not leave me bubbling over with inspiration. I've moved to the next column now that I've had a little work and a little more experiences. Even if I don't take anything away, at least I can share something of use. After these 2 days back at summer camp the 200 volunteers will shift back to Dakar for a weekend to makeup for all lost weekends.
We're joining the U.S. Embassy, students from local schools, and plenty of volunteers from other the West Africa Invitational Softball Tournament. Peace Corps teams tend to take the noncompetitive route; this year we will only be playing each other due to the lack of competition among other things. Each PC region forms a team and picks a theme - we don't miss any costume opportunities. My dear Kolda Kalabandits will swoop in as SUPERheroes and villains, Kedougou will be our geriatrics, Tamba settled with high school cliches (a step up from their "softball" theme last year), and so on. 
It's gonna be a long, anything but ordinary week that my village will hear 3% about.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


My house has mice. After a sleepless week of squeaking and scurrying, nibbling holes and and stealing peanuts, and most importantly twilight plundering, something had to be done. I threw one deceivingly cute mouse over my fence at 3am-- only to realize he'd be back in no time. I did what any desperate volunteer would do- I bought poison for the price of a loaf of bread and mixed it into a hardy serving of peanut butter.
I'm sure it wouldn't have taken much more than a taste of the chemical concoction but my greedy mice cleaned the plate. Three days later, I'm paying for my peaceful sleep with a stench worse than autoclave cell culture waste. I've found three, but the smell is still permeating from my straw roofing. How fast do you think ants can carry off a mouse?

Speaking of the downside of straw roofing, I just watched one burst into flames in the adjacent compound. There is a little controversy concerning the fire's ignition. Was it ash on the wind, kids-play, or someone passing by?  I saw it across the way from my back yard. Everyone filled the compound quickly to remove the thatch-fuel and stop the fire with buckets of water straight from the well. The excitement only stretched  across a few minutes and left the hut in ruins.

My hut currently has a small construction zone in front. My brothers are building an outside sitting area/cement slab. Maybe I should teach them to build castles! I feel like it will soon annoy me as it attracts rambling kids in the afternoon and chatty men at night. The benefit might be a cool place to sit, stretch, and read, but in what degree of peace I'm not sure. Its okay, my "leave me alone" vocabulary is well-practiced.