Monday, September 17, 2007


I am so happy to be home!

After almost 6 weeks away because of IST, med appointments in Dakar, and regional health meetings up North, I was really worried about readjusting to site. But I could not be happier to be back.

When I arrived, totally exhausted, sweaty (of course) and carrying my huge bags, it was dusk and no one was in my compound except my baabaa (dad).

He was in the middle of praying, but came running over to me (as much as he can run for an old man who uses a cane to walk, and can barely hear) and gave me a HUGE hug and was so happy and smiling and kept hugging me and saying he was happy and how much he missed me.

It was so nice to be welcomed home that way. Usually people give handshakes but there isn’t a lot of hugging. It even made me a little teary. (No surprise there).

Then people started trickling in and I was greeted over and over. My favorite sister even came in town. She was married a few weeks ago very suddenly while I was gone, to a young French Senegalese man who I’ve met and seems very nice. (But I don’t know what I’ll do if she moves to France. I’ll be devastated. I hope she at least stays to finish her schooling.)

I had been so worried about my room flooding. I had heard horror stories from other volunteers about coming home to inches of water and totally destroyed possessions. But as it turns out, my room was only a little mildewy and dank smelling. No puddles.

I even only had one scorpion waiting for me! Hooray! As my dad pointed out “How nice for you!” (Insert biting sarcasm). Really though, with my track record I was practically expecting them to be covering the floor. And I knew exactly where to find it. Under that trunk where all the other ones like to hide out. I had about 40 huge black beetles, a cockroach, lots of spiderwebs, and piles of sand. But everything was intact and in good condition.

I spent the last couple of hours of sunlight sweeping furiously, unpacking, and greeting people. Then an incredible rainstorm came out of nowhere and I was able to bucket bath in it. It was like taking a real shower. Incredible. And it was even cool enough to sleep inside my room that night. A luxury for sure.

Point is I’m so happy to be back. I really missed my host family and my routine and my work. Coming back made me realize that it finally feels like home here. I’ve noticed the progress that I’ve made and how much more comfortable I feel compared to the first few weeks when I arrived.

And to boot, I had 6 packages and 3 letters waiting for me! THANK YOU EVERYONE! Those made for such a warm and wonderful homecoming. It means a lot to hear words of encouragement and support from people at home.

Although I haven’t been using it that much over the past few weeks, for some reason my Pulaar really does sound better. Maybe it’s just because I’m more confident? Or paying better attention and am making more of an effort? I’m not sure, but I’m getting there.

As for the month of Ramadan, well, thus far it’s not as bad as I had heard. I mean yes, people are tired and do a lot less in the afternoon, and it’s sort of a strange existence having to hide my eating and water-drinking habits from my family. I told them that I did not want to fast and they agreed that unless you are praying, there is no point in fasting anyway. For the most part I’m hoping to still be able to have meetings and get some lesson plans finished and maybe finally be able to have a meeting with my new mothers and girls groups. That has been a challenge I had not expected. Between my own insecurities with Pulaar, and everyone’s schedules we have yet to meet at all. Numerous attempts have been made, but nothing as of yet. Hopefully because there are a lot fewer chores for the girls and women to do during the day (aka. no cooking) we will find time this month.

As for the weather, there hasn’t been any rain for a few days and the temperatures have started to climb again. The rumor is that the month of Ramadan is sweltering because the rains have stopped but it still hasn’t cooled off yet. It doesn’t really get cooler until mid-November.

My first guest is coming in 6 weeks! Very exciting. I cannot believe that I’ve now been here 6 months. It has flown by. Roughly 19 months left…but who’s counting? If I start thinking about how little time I have to accomplish everything I would like, then panic sets in. I have to constantly remind myself to take baby steps.

Someone recently told me that he learned that in Africa, you never ask “When?” If you do it will make you crazy. Things happen slowly, sometimes not at all, but I’ve just got to keep pushing and keep trying.

Until next time. Thanks for reading. Keep the questions coming.

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