Saturday, October 23, 2010


YAYAYAYAY. I hope this doesnt lead you to think that Im not enjoying it here, Im just really excited to spend Christmas at home. Last year I spent Chrismas out in Victoria, changing blackberry branches in a tank of giant stickbugs, before watching movies with my boyfriend's japanese room mate. It was actually pretty fun, but it will be nice to go home...and see SNOW. Also, I have a six hour layover in DC, ahem...CLAIRE, which means lots of time to drink Starbucks and contemplate life or something.

Ill be there on the tenth :) I have absolutely nothing planned. Its going to be wonderful.

Anyways, life here has been especially fun lately. Ive been spending time with my family, playing with the kids, harvesting peanuts along with the whole village, hanging out with Steve and Jen in Mbour, practicing french at the Poste de Sante, and actually getting work done. I dont know what happened, I think maybe hanging out with my family in the fields more, but I feel a lot more involved in life here now. Rainy season ended, and its really pretty right now. Kindergarten also started, and now that I know who all the kids are, its really fun to hang out there.

Not much else to report :) I accidentally made all of the new volunteers dip their carrot sticks in a pot of cookie dough because I thought it was hummus. They were too polite to say anything. Oops...welcome to Peace Corps. And I thought it was pretty good, anyways.

These next few months are going to be nice, I have some exciting projects planned. Then Thanksgiving, a week of causaries at the health post, All Volunteer conference, Dakar, and then....Home!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Im not a baby anymore!

About 60 new volunteers just installed at their new sites all over Senegal, officially promoting my group from our position as the newest volunteers in country, to something more like...sophomores. It feels kind of nice.

On another note, I am going to be Ziggy Stardust for Halloween. Hopefully somebody with a camera will be around, and I can steal their pictures. Until then, I am going back to site to have a huge community meeting that will hopefully set the agenda for the next year and a half. Ive been here almost 8 months, which is hard to grasp. It often feels like I just arrived, but I have enough freckles these days to prove that's not the case. I spent this past week visiting some other volunteers at their sites, which has become one of my favorite things to do. I love hearing other languages, seeing how they interact with their families, helping out where I can, and seeing the projects everyone has been working on. Its a great way to see the country, and get ideas. And its fun.

Now that it's mid October, my absolute favorite time of the year back at home, all I can think about is wanting to drink hot apple cider on a cold day, go hiking in color changing woods, buy fresh apples at the farmers market, buy bulk candy, and eat pumpkin doughnuts from washtenaw dairy. mmmm.

Oh well. Pictures coming soon! Probably in November. Have a good Halloween!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Somebody Pickpocketed My Hamburger.

Im serious. Last week, during my BEST BIRTHDAY EVER (besides the fact that I missed family and friends at home) I was dancing around in a dress with large pockets. Somebody had bought me a hamburger, and I was saving it for later in one of those pockets. Then, as I left the restaurant where we had been dancing, I noticed it was no longer there. A sketchy senegalese man was sitting off to the side eating it and staring at me. I let it go. I pick my battles...but I really wanted that hamburger.

Anyways, last week all of the Health and Environmental Ed volunteers had a summit. We were staying in a huge house that didnt have water, was really hot, and had nowhere to hang mosquito nets. It was pretty miserable, so on my birthday our boss announced that we were being moved to an incredibly fancy beachfront hotel that was originally out of the price range, but had agreed to give us a deal if we promised to buy drinks with our increased daily allowance. OKAY. I was surrounded by all of my favorite people here, and wearing the flashing light up crown that Nana sent me in the mail, along with the plastic beads and stickers she sent (THANK YOU!). Everyone bought me whatever I wanted from the bar which means I had Baileys and Espresso all evening while swimming around in a pool on the beach underneath gorgeous palm trees. Then we went to a really good restaurant where some of the other volunteers had baked me a cake from scratch. it tasted more like a big doughnut than a cake, which was great : ) Then 50's music randomly began playing and we had a big swing dance party. Afterwards, I went back to my nice hotel room with a fan and running water, and peacefully slept my way into being 24 years old.

On another note, it is harvest season here in Senegal! Before coming here I never really understood how peanuts worked/grew, but I was imagining some kind of bush with peanuts hanging off of it. In reality, though, they are pretty amazing plants because they literally plant themselves. The flower is pollinated, then the soon-to-be-seed drops down to the root, and the seed (peanut) grows down there underground. Each plant has like 20 peanuts on it. So, for the past week or so everyone has been walking out into the fields, pulling up peanut plants, and popping the peanuts off to eat right there. I like walking the super cute 2 yr old twins at my house out into the field and collecting peanuts with them. I also taught them you can eat greenbeans raw (ie. not boiled in oil). Score one for nutrition.

Here is a stolen image of a peanut plant:

And one last thing, school was supposed to start the other day, but the houses that were built for the new teachers to come and live in are currently being occupied by a guy and his family. He refuses to move. School turned into a major shouting match between him and the rest of the village leaders (and a random french woman who showed up out of nowhere with a catholic nun, and disappeared after the meeting). I think they agreed to let his family stay in the houses (no idea why, or what that means for school ever starting) but they decided that he owes the village leaders 2 liters of wine and a cooler of beer for ruining their day. I love sereres. And am endlessly frustrated by them. Whatever.