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...


Anna said...

Caitlin, oh I know you’re quite familiar with the culture adjustment patterns. I bet as training they share these universal steps with y’all, but this last post made me want to bring this to the forefront in order to say RIGHT ON! Congratulations! You’ve made it past the “Arrival Fascination” stage: you’re tired and underwhelmed and irritated and sad (perhaps not just “at the computer” but generally?) and . . . this is really great.


I know I risk sounding like I think I’m a cultural adjustment sage; certainly we all know you have traveled much further and thoroughly than I have. And I feel awkward that writing a comment on your blog is “public,” but I’m going to try to shed my self-consciousness in hopes of starting some discussion about these natural patterns we’ll all see develop over the next two years.

Here’s what’ll unfold:

Initial anxiety (OMG am I really ready to be in West Africa for 2 years)
> You’ve arrived and everything is just AMAZING
> I’m tired of ____ (being a toubab, food, hygiene, language, etc)
> Surface adjustment
> Feeling down again: isolated
> Integrating (just like the Peace Corp loves!)
> Anxiety again (everything is cyclical)
> Reintegration

I have a hunch that this plays out both on a grand scheme –27 months for you- (we time our psychological experiences against the knowledge of how long we’re spending in a place: like when you have to desperately pee only once you put that key in your front door, to when you’re leaving Hawaii and you get really cranky the day before), and on a smaller scale –over the next 2 months (maybe this scale fits the lunar/menstrual cycle too).

I am proud of you for being tired and for admitting it to yourself and to the anonymous/ubiquitous “Us” who are reading your blog. How awful if you were to *pretend* that you were happy all the time.

That sucks about losing those two postings. If you write them within gmail, and then attempt to post you won’t lose the writing at all and can make “lose” them without worry.

Oh goodness. Are comments allowed to be this long?

I’m so proud of you.


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anna. you are so great. i would just like everyone to know that this fabulous woman has already written me five letters in country. i'm still waiting for number one to arrive however. As ever, you are spot on with the cyclical excitement and frustrations. thank you for noticing and for your support. and yes, comments can be super long every time.

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