Monday, June 6, 2011

A Day in the Life, and Sappy Reflections.

If you read this whole thing you get a prize!!

People often ask what a typical day here is like, which is hard to answer because, while things dont exactly change much around here, so many random things are always waiting to jump out at you that every day is unique in its own obscure way. Since yesterday was a nice relaxing Sunday, I'll just recap it in order to give you a quick glimpse into the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal.

The sun came up around 6:30am, waking me up since Ive been sleeping outside for the past 6 months or so (though I got rained on at 3am the other morning and had to make a mad dash into the hut, so that might be coming to an end soon). Normally I would have stayed in bed to read for another hour or so, but in a random surge of motivation, I decided to get up and take advantage of the cool morning air by going on a run. I got dressed and ready to go, but couldn't find my socks anywhere. I only have one pair, because who wears socks in Africa? I tore apart the room, and then eventually went out in the compound and asked my mom if she'd seen them. She went into her room and pulled my bright green socks out of her dresser, along with a random other sock I'd never seen before. For the record I dont think I've ever seen a Senegalese person in socks. They were all freshly cleaned from the last time she did laundry (an all-day-long process which involves washing clothes by hand in big plastic buckets). She was keeping them until I brought her my "other sock" because she was too embarassed to bring me three socks because that obviously wouldn't make any sense. That whole ordeal took about an hour, so I finally put on my two socks and went on a half hr run through the baobabs, which was beautiful! After getting back I pulled water (walk w a bucket to the well, drop a different bucket on a rope about 10m down to the water, then carry the bucket back on my head Jungle Book style), bucket bathed, and got back in bed.

My brother re-woke me up around 10 by shouting for me to come to the door of my hut, and offered me fresh Beignets (fried doughnut holes, SO GOOD) that my mom had just made for a wedding. I dragged my mat out into the backyard, french pressed some coffee, and had a banana/beignet breakfast, then read for an hour or so.

Around 11 I finally got up and went out to the field to work on a tree peppiniere (nursery) in our family's garden. Rainy season will be here in about a month, so the trees will need to be big enough by then to outplant around the village/schools.

After coming home to hide from the 1pm sun, I sat with my family under a tree and broke out my new Chess Practice book, and basically played chess against myself for a couple of hours (dont judge me) while trying to keep the kids from eating/otherwise destroying the chess pieces. We ate lunch, rice and fish out of a huge communal bowl on the ground, around 3pm, after which I retreated to my hut to watch 30 Rock for about an hour. My laptop holds about 4hrs of battery, so I have to ration out TV time : )

Around 4 I walked over to another village I'm working to set up as a new site for a future volunteer, and got some forms signed/sat through a couple of LONG meetings in Wolof which I didnt understand at all. Luckily, when I left, they gave me a huge bag of freshly picked Mangoes, so it was totally worth it. I then went on a bike ride until the sun went down, took another bucket bath, and sat with my family until we had dinner around 9pm.

I went back to my hut, shut the door, made a cup of hot chocolate, and sat on my mat in the backyard looking up at the stars. The moon set early so the night sky was gorgeous. I called another volunteer (because its free!) and we talked until my hot chocolate was done and I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I got into bed, saw a shooting star, and was passed out asleep by 11pm. Fin of journee.

A couple of years ago in Hawaii, I went on a backpacking trip w a friend that landed us down at the beach. I remember one moonless night we sat looking over the ink black water, where the stars were seamlessly reflected right across the horizon. A shooting star flashed across the night sky, a perfect mirror image blazing in the water below, and we both made wishes. Even though it's bad luck to say your wish out loud, he asked what mine was, and I said "I wished that no matter what I do or where I end up, that I can always find a way to be as happy as I am right now." After a minute or two of silence, he put his arm around me and said with total confidence, "I know you will."

I know this is crossing the cheesy/sappy/annoying line, but, I see shooting stars all the time and they always fill me with warm fuzzies, because they remind me that no matter where you are, or what's going on in your life, it's easy to find happiness if you carry your joy around with you. Not to say that things don't go wrong all the time, or that it's bad to feel sad, angry, upset, etc. but knowing that overall a sense of humor and some unshake-able self love can float you through just about anything, makes all of those difficult experiences roll right on through. Either that, or I'm just horribly naive and/or stupid.

One of the best ways I have of gauging my mood in this country is how I feel about butterflies when I see them flying around (bear with me, where I'm going with this is slightly less gag-inducing than it sounds). If I'm in a bad mood, I look at them and immediately think, "How can anything so delicate possibly survive in this country of sandstorms, car crashes, kids who delight in killing kittens, and just overall natural tendency toward destroying...everything?" If Im in a good mood, though, I see them flying around and think, "Hey, Senegal really is kind of pretty..."

OKAY. Thats my sapfest for the day! All Im trying to say is that after a year I've figured out how to be easily happy here, and I think it's something that will stick with me for the rest of my life (inchallah). Next time I write I'll come up with something more entertaining, or perhaps even responsible and work related, to write about, I promise.

Hope youre all enjoying some warm weather in other parts of the world! Because we sure are here, ha...ha... : /

Oh! And 3 last pieces of news:

1. My sitemate just got a fancy new telescope for her roof, along with a star book!

2. Steve and I found a conveniently located amazing burger place that has PUNCH CARDS. As buy 10 goat cheese or camembert hamburgers for about $4 each, and you get an 11th one free!!!

3. This morning I got like a million more ant bites, I still dont know why this happens to me, and am going straight home now to take benadryl/ibuprofen and pass out. Im definitely not in a good mood, and writing this post kind of made me cringe a little bit, but whatever. I wrote it in my notebook yesterday when my mind was in a much better place.

Anyways, thank you for reading, as always! There's not actually a prize, but, if you read this whole thing, then you must be as bored as I am, and we're clearly soulmates : ) And maybe you'll get lucky and I'll send you a little plastic army guy, 3-D glasses, or a "changes color when you put it in milk" spoon from the bottom of a cereal box.