Monday, March 26, 2007

Little Frustrations...

I am irritated and sad that my last two posts: Demystification and Oumou Sall did not go through for some mysterious computer dysfunction reason.
that being said, i am going to try again...

but first i must say, that today is the first day that i am a bit underwhelmed. the first day of training today was tiring. 4 hours of Pulaar language class in the morning followed by mind numbing group discussions about development which did nothgin for morale, followed by yet more discussions about the health program project plan...
all is really just fancy jargon for wasting time.
perhaps it is the dust, or the trash, or the fatigue or all of the above, but today i am very aware of how tired i am.
but i am going to try again to recap demystification and my family.

my host family is fabulous. very traditional. they pray five times a day. starting with the first blaring loud speaker of the mosque up the road (ear plugs are a must have here) at 6 am and ending with the lst one at roughly 10 at night.
i have 3 sisters diarra 21, miriam 20 and mare 14. and two brothers: Seri 10 who is my favorite little guy and he and i have just in the last few days bonded tightly. he doesn't speak much but he is am i.
there is another brother ben omour who is 17 who is not around much.
my mom and dad, aminata and omour are great. my mom lounges aroudn the house topless and laughs a ton. she spends most of the early parts of the days selling monkey bread fruit which makes a delicious juice.
my dad is a retired french teacher. he has 2 wives, one deceased, and 12 children! most of whom are older and live in dakar and france. some are coming in this weekend for the most recent holiday season. i cant wait to meet them.

i spent my day yesterday sitting in the early morning cool shade with my sisters doing laundry. between my stuff and the rest of teh families it took us roughly 3 hours. even seri pitched in. it was fun girl time to spend. i really fid that at the end of the day when i am tired, all of their energy pumps me up. i'm dreading my homework assignment in pulaar tonight but i know that the girls will make it fun.
seri and i have established a mutual professor student relationship. i quiz him on his multiplication tables and he tests me on my pulaar numbers.
i'm getting thre, but thre is so far to go. their patience with me is inspiring.

i have tried to upload pictures but have as of yet not been successful in anyway. i will keep trying though. i desperately want you all to see what my life is like.

a highlight of today: THE COCKROACHES ARE GONE!! perhaps they will arrive again tonight, but i have not seen them in the past 24 hours and i consider that progress for sure.

btw, my new name is oumou Sall. hence the name of that last post. oumou is the name of a woman in the koran who is a humanitarian who does good deeds for the world. it also means mother or nurturer. kind of wonderful that my host father picked that out for me right away?
yes it rhymes with oumou and it took me 2 days to start responding to it, but now its in my head adn i'm attached.

i'm goig to post this for trial and error's sake. tune in for the demystification update...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Oumou Sall


SENEGAL!! Highlights

I apologize for taking so long to get to this blog, but i finally found the best way to get these slow computers to upload this page so i am ready to type away.

There is a Peace Corps saying that goes:
Volunteers who go to Latin America come back Political
Volunteers who go to Asia come back Spiritual
Volunteers who go to Africa come back Laughing!

I love that, and its absolutely true thus far.

Highlights of Senegal so far:
-Bucket baths outdoors (it's an amazing feeling to wash outside in nature)
-my host brother shyly taking my hand for the first time last night as we walked home from buying bread for dinner. (He then preceded to sit on my lap and watch the Senegal v tanzania match where senegal kicked ass 4 : 0)
-All of the adorable babies i can get my hands on!
-Realizing how adaptable i am!
-Finding and eating popsicles!
-Teaching my host family sisters how to salsa dance
-watching them dance a zillion times better than i ever will. and with 600x more enthusiasm
-how much everyone laughs here!
-getting people's letters and emails!! keep them coming!
-my host sister's laughing at how badly i am at washing my clothes by hand, and then hoow readily they complimented me when i quickly got the hang of it.
-learning Pulaar du Nord! Its a wonderful language and the Pulaar people are infamous for being funny and laid back. and its spoken in several other west african countries (mauritania, niger, guinea, mali , nigeria) leaving good opportunities for future jobs!
-GETTING MY FIRST "Jaye Fundae" comment! Essentially it means big/nice butt, but its a sought after thing in this culture and is highly complimentary. literally it means that "you eat lots of fundae" which is a highly caloric porridge. it made my day.

Things that I thought would be bad but really aren't:
-pit latrines...really not so bad.
-Being called "toubab" (white person/foreigner) by every passing child
-Mosquitos! Ive only been bitten once since i've been here!
-the heat, i mean its bad, but you just slow down and hydrate like its your job
-Being a low level of dirty all the time. really not that bad.
-eating meat! its such a relief to have some variety and some protein that i'm thrilled to have it.

Things i still need to get used to:
-the many many cockroaches that live in my host families bathroom. we have frequent staredowns where i ask them not to move just long enough so that i can do my thing. they have yet to break the deal, but i'm still wary of them.
-babies crying at the sight of me because i'm white. it really has happened a few times and it makes me sad. we all laugh about it though.
-how dirty Thies is. I knew it would be but the trash and the exhaust are stifling sometimes.
-being stared at constantly. and receiving multiple marriage propositions on a daily basis
-how spicy the food is. literally, my mouth is on fire at all times.

that's it for now. please post comments!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Packing List

Packing List

3 weeks underwear
many sportbras and normal bras
3 T-shirts—2 colored one not
3 tank tops—wide strapped. More appropriate.
3 long skirts
2 long sleeve light weight shirt
2 pair long lightweight pants
1 hoodie
1 poncho
1 pair Chacos
1 pair running shoes
1 hat (big black sun hat)
3 bandanas/headwraps
6 pair socks
Sleep clothes
1 bathing suit
Underarmor bike shorts (to avoid chaffing when wearing skirts!)
Minimal not valuable jewelry

2 toothbrushes
1 toothpaste
Dr. Bronners liquid soap
Lotion and face lotion
The Keeper, pantiliners
Efferdent for cleaning retainers
Eye drops
1 pack towel large
1 hand pack towel
Liquid hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes
Gold bond
Bug spray
After bite
Toenail clippers
Hair elastics

1 self inflatable pillow
1 battery operated alarm clock w/calendar and temperature
1 headlamp battery operated
Rechargeable Batteries and plug-in battery charger
2 Nalgenes
Ziploc bags all sizes
Tupperware containers
Solio Solar Charger and accessories
1 75 watt power inverter for Solio solar charger
1 set of sheets and pillowcase
1 pr scissors
1 roll duct tape, packing tape, scotch tape
1 combination lock
2 caribbeaners
1 leatherman
1 cheap watch
1 self-inflatable pillow
Mattress pad
SteriPEN AdventurerWater Purification

I-pod, usb cord, car charger, headphones, I-trip, camera dock, otterbox waterproof case
Digital Cameras,chargers and cases
SD cards
Photos from home
Hut-decorating memorabilia
Pens and pencils
Address book
Playing Cards
Small short wave radio battery operated
Paper, envelopes and stamps for letters
Various Peace Corps papers and documentation
USB flash drive
USB card reader

Kitchen Stuff
1 small non stick skillet
1 good can opener (hard to get in country)

Hard candies

1 large Daypack (for longer excursions)
1 Ospray backpackers pack (the big kind, for the move)
1 small daypack
1 small duffel (for extra stuff, like gifts, that don’t fit in my big pack!)
1 dry sack (for electronics in the rainy season)


I am finally leaving for DC this Sunday and I am so excited. Everyone has been so wonderful and thoughtful and calling, texting, and emailing, and asking me how I'm feeling and if I'm nervous etc. but honestly, I'm not. Maybe it's because I haven't even had time to feel nervous-I've had so much to do, but I really think that it's because I am so sure of this next step and while I do understand that it is going to be hard and everyday will be different, I am convinced that this is where I should be right now. I think that one of the most disappointing things about working and studying in the development sector is the myriad of people who do exactly that--study and work from afar, but never go in to the places they are trying to "help." I'm hoping to be a small step in bridging that gap.

I hope to receive many letters as you all know what a social butterfly I am and how much I depend upon my friends and loved ones. And I promise to write many in return.

I am attaching my packing list so that you can all see what it is I'm bringing. I hope to upload some pictures from DC when I'm going through orientation.

let the adventure begin...