Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Tonight, my grandma and I are getting dressed to the nines, drinking mimosas, and watching movies to ring in the New Year. Its not the exciting going out dancing all night of last year, but I really can't imagine a better way to spend the evening : )

I am heading back to Senegal in a few days. Im not exactly ready, but a day or two at the American Club is probably all I need to get back into Peace Corps mode.

Being back in AMERIK for a month has helped me realize what it is exactly that I miss the most about home. I thought it would be the food, the weather, my family, etc. But, the result was something I didnt expect. While I do miss all of that, the thing I miss the most, and what I look forward to the most when I get back here (you know, in 2012) is having a life. Seriously. In Senegal, work is life. Im not saying I have a ton of work to do, but I live and work in the same place. My personal and professional life are one and the same. I am ON 24/7. Sarah time vs. job time literally does not exist. I am my alias, Yama, pretty much day in and day out. It's like being in a play...all the time. Where no one speaks english. Bienvenue.

I loved living in Victoria because I could take yoga classes, play ultimate frisbee, go to salsa lessons, volunteer at a gorgeous ocean discovery center, go to midnight swims at the community center, and just generally have a good time. Even work was pretty fun.

Baltimore was exciting because I could take yoga, contra dancing, sing sea shanties at a pub on Thursdays, play boggle with people from work every Tuesday, take a rigging workshop, go to trivia night, and take long walks on the water.

In Peace Corps, though, it's like being transported back to middle school in terms of freedom and options of things to do. Africa with a bunch of random Senegalese people. I spend my time with the family, eat when they do, eat whatever they're eating, always tell them where Im going and when I'll be back, have limited internet and TV time(ie. none) and never leave the compound after dark. My alone time these days is a long walk to a baobab tree where I sit and do crosswords.

I dont mean to complain, compared to all of the issues available to worry about in real life, like paying bills, worrying about health care, not living on the beach, schedules, supervision, etc. It's not so bad ; ) Peace Corps is a whole new world of costs and benefits. I like my work in Senegal and knew it would be like this before leaving. We have regional houses to take breaks when we need it, and get non-village work done. It's just a much slower and different pace of life. I am enjoying it for the time I have, but when I get back to the US...Im going to boycott sitting and reading. Im going to do as much as humanly possible. Pottery classes, a computer programming class, ultimate frisbee, a fun job, long walks, yoga, swing dancing, hiking on weekends. Hopefully in Boston. For Summer of Fun! After summer of fun...Im thinking graduate school. Or a job. We'll see. Anything could happen in the next 15 months. Who knows, I might even become fluent in Serere. And I know that makes you jealous.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


There have been two previous volunteers at my site, two years each. One of them wrote a blog, and it's like someone took my diary and posted it online. Same experiences, same frustrations, same everything. It's kind of awesome, and also really weird to think how we have lived pretty much the exact same life, just two years removed. He even had just as many mouse problems as I did. Go back to earlier entries and take a look. I assume his more recent ones are glimpses into my future as a volunteer in Louly : ) Here's the link:

And, lastly, MERRY CHRISTMAS in a couple of days! Im looking forward to christmas breakfast, my stocking, family, and of course, presents! Yay!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thats not Senegal...

...cause im not in Senegal! Im at home, and America is *literally* the best. I have been sitting around in my giant fuzzy bathrobe and sweatpants all day every day : ) This evening, Connor and I made paper airplanes before we all sat down in front of the fireplace to watch a Christmas movie. Last night I baked three pies (blackberry raspberry, blueberry coconut, apple sweet potato strawberry) and trays upon trays of sweet potato fries at a friend's house for a big dinner party. I also went to curves with Sheila, spent a day making crab cakes with cousin Ken, and am generally just having the best vacation ever.

Nana and Lindsey get here next week, Connor is off from school, and It's COLD which is fantastic. I love my family, I love snow, I love the US, and I love Christmas! Here's to one month of doing nothing but relaxing, eating, and spending time with everyone! I'll put the hot sandy Senegal picture back up on my title when I go back. For now....SNOW. !!!

Also, not related, Im jealous of this guy....that's awesome. I hope I catch something ridiculous while fishing one day. Like when Steve caught a crazy looking triggerfish by the TAIL in Popenguine : ) Hehe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Culture Shock

I am going home for Christmas in less than 48 hours! Most of all, I can't wait to see family, see snow, be surrounded by Christmas decorations, eat good food, and just relax. Knowing that I am about to leave has changed my perspective on life in Senegal over the past few weeks. I've started noticing the things I love and appreciate here, and the thngs I will be happy to leave behind for a month : )

I wont mind leaving behind the bugs, the heat, the constant back and forth between overwhelming volunteer events and quiet village life, the language barrier, the feeling of sticking out like a sore thumb no matter where I am, the monotonous food, the lack of activity between 12-3pm, and the constant requests for money.

I will miss (well. not miss exactly, but things that I will be happy to come back to) include: my open air shower, the warm palm tree covered beach, my incredibly cute siblings here, my projects that are just getting underway, other PCV's, wearing flip flops every day, never being concerned with what I look like, total independence and freedom, my lovely village, the kindergarten, and not having constant internet/tv/etc. stimulation (I know its inconvenient, but It's pretty nice : ).

Im excited to go home, will be happy to come back, and am just generally looking forward to these next few months!

On another note, I went into Kaolack for Thanksgiving, where we made a HUGE dinner with all of your typical American food, which was fantastic. Then, I headed to my friend Morgan's site to help her paint her hut. It sounds simple, but we somehow ended up with whitewash in pellet form, which we had to mix on our own. Life without google is interesting. So, we painted a wall with what looked like plain water...seriously, it wasn't white, it just looked wet. Then, sat and watched it turn white over the next hour. Throughout the day we both ended up with quick lyme in our eyes, and managed to get the hut covered in uneven shades of streaky whitewash. We celebrated by going swimming in the delta. We were walking home in the dark, when a beetle flew INTO my eye. I couldnt see it or get it was crawling around in there while I freaked out. Morgan was kind enough to confront her fear of eye-touching, and saved me. She also pops out mango flies in my dreams. I would probably, literally, fall apart without her.

Anyways, when I headed back to site, I hopped in a crowded station wagon with a few Senegalese families. There is one main road that cuts through Senegal, and another volunteer who lives along that road owed me some money from Thanksgiving dinner. We decided to try a roadside handoff. 20k before we tried to meet, our car screeched to a halt and a random woman ran up to the window, handed someone in our car a baby and a suitcase, and we sped off. I asked them to stop at the white person, so everyone in the car sat with their eyes to the windows searching, until we saw her. We slammed on the breaks as she came sprinting up to the car, threw me money, and we continued on our way.

Back at site, things were just fine. I left in a rush to get to an all volunteer conference in Thies, afer which I came to Dakar, and have been playing the role of tourist ever since!

Ok, ttfn. See you in America!