July 22, 2010


My friend and fellow volunteer was recently spotlighted as the front page story in her home town newspaper. The article was packed with photos, quotes and witty one liners about Senegalese culture. The only thing missing was a call, email or letter to my friend informing her that this was going on. Apparently, the newspaper stumbled across her blog and found all they needed for the two page “African Adventure” expose.

This got me thinking, suppose the Louisville Times perused my blog? Do I really want the greater 303 area to know that I own a personal poop scrapping stick? I’d rather not. So, I made the conscience decision to write a respectable blog that tells of all my positive development work, cultural exchange and the numerous lives I am touching. Then last night happened…

I am currently out of my village and in the big city, Thies for my In Service Training. I am staying with the family that hosted me during my first 9 weeks in country. My first night back in the home stay was a glorious boost to my Wolof confidence. This family dealt with me when all I could say was “I’m full” and “I go to bed”. Now I return with an arsenal of compound sentences, a Wolof proverb or two, and the ability to actually get food into my mouth when eating with my hand and not just throw rice onto my lap! I tell you this so that you understand my over inflated self confidence and will bare witness to just how far I fell.

Later that same evening.
I walk across the compound to the cement block used as a shower. Naturally it’s dark and the power is out; so, I can’t see anything and am focusing all of my energy on not dropping my pagne. A bucket half full (notice I still have my cheery positive attitude at this point) of water is sitting right next to the water faucet. I assume that someone just bucket bathed and only used half. I proceed to fill the remainder of the bucket.

Now I am standing naked in a dark cement cubicle that smells like the bowels of Death preparing for my refreshing bucket shower. If you were to use a bucket of water and a large mug to shower, where would you dump the first cooling mug? Answer: Look up and dump it all over your face. I did this.

DIRTY WATER DIRTY WATER!! It took me a horrified moment to realize what was wrong. I used the bucket of vegetable peels and fish scales to bathe! Filthy. After dropkicking the food scrap water I stumbled out of the shower, blinded by disgust, wrapped in my pagne and covered in fish scales, only to mutter “I go to bed” to my hysterical family.

It was only after cleaning myself from my filthy shower that the whole situation became amusing. Oh life…

So long as I don’t act a fool, the next post might actually tell you a little sumtin about Senegal. But, no promises, that’s why I added links (down and to the right) to the blogs of individuals much more respectable than myself.

July 01, 2010

I'm a huge wierd-o

Yesterday I was crouched in the wrong position and missed the tiny poop hole I use as a toilet. Without a second thought I picked up the stick that I keep in my bathroom and scrapped my pile into the hole.

This got me thinking about all the weird things that I do now that will be unacceptable when I return to the States.
• I’d say keeping a poo scrapping stick in the bathroom is one example.
• I regularly pick my nose and am not ashamed. This sand carrying desert wind is brutal. I am constantly plagued by those hard buggers that hurt if you squeeze your nostrils together.
• I hiss at people to get their attention.
• I opened my jam jar to find that ants were enjoying the sugary lid. I rinsed off what I could and proceeded to spoon it straight into my mouth.
• Every household has a ceramic pot called an “ndal” where they store drinking water. A communal plastic cup sits on top of the ndal and everyone, family friends, random community members, and snot-nosed children, use the cup. When I first got to Senegal I was both filtering and bleaching my water. Just the thought of brushing my teeth with water not from my nalgene gave me diarrhea. After a few days in the Barkedji heat I was sucking down the snotty ndal water without apprehension.
• If someone asks me to do something that I have no intension of doing, rather than refuse, I agree, but slap an “Inshallah” (God willing) on the end of my agreement.
• My douche is my one sanctuary away from the constant "what is the white girl doing now" surviellance. I regulary retreat to my douche in order to crouch over and destroy a mango. I feel like Golum.

Please love me.


I learned to today that my region, just south of the Sahara desert, is called the SaHELL. This is no euphemism. I haven’t stopped sweating. Even the wind brings no relief, only burning desert sands that scratch my eyes.

It is difficult to convey the intense level of heat. Here is my attempt at painting a picture with my words:
• When I was in China I searched for months with little luck to find a scented candle for my room. This time around I came prepared. I carefully tucked a little fresh linen scented candle inside my luggage to keep as a special treat in my hut. Today, before it’s first burning, i accidentlly knocked it over and the wax flowed out like water.

• Everyday from around 11 until 3 the electricity, the water and the cell network stops. When i asked about it the answer i was given is “Dafa tang” (It’s hot).

• I drank 4 liters of water today…and still haven’t peed.
Hot season is like having your blistered sunburn slapped by burning whip inside an oven. Life literally stops from 12 until 4 because it is too hot to move. My fan has shot to the top of my prized possession list.

I’ve been in the village, Barkedji, for almost two weeks. It’s been good, rather odd, but good. During training every second of my life was planned and jammed packed with activities to prepare me for my move to the village. The moment the Peace Corps car disappeared into its trail of dust, leaving me surrounded by my pile of plastic buckets, everything changed. My job right now is to “integrate”. Right, so………

I am working on establishing some kind of daily routine, but I basically just walk around the village a lot. Here’s a kind of “typical” day:
I wake up around 6:30 because either the chicken that sleeps under my bed is screaming in my ear, or my 10 year old sister who shares/monopolizes my bed is kicking or suprooning me.
Then I try to do yoga. This is quiet the event. Children seem to appariate out of nowhere to watch me, the brave little ones will try and join.

By 7:15 I am covered in sweat and it’s too hot to continue. So, I do a quick final shavasana and head to my bathroom for a bucket shower. Every time I am excited for the cooling relief of the shower. Alas, the water inside my bucket is still warm from being cooked the previous day.

After a quick breakfast of Celestial Seasoning tea, brought from America and quickly depleting (cough care package cough), and bread, it’s time to start my day. I literally walk around the village. I tell myself that I am working on “mapping” the village, which I am, but really I just wait until something pops up. Since I am new in town, and it’s rather hard for me to blend in, I get called by people all the time to come over for a conversation. By 1:30 it’s time to head home for lunch.

From lunch until around 3 everything is closed for afternoon tea and rest time. It’s too hot to do anything except lay motionless in a pile of your own sweat. By four I try to peel myself off the mat and usually garden or head back out into the village. Once the sun goes down, the TV gets dragged into the yard and everyone is glued to it. The other day we watched WWF with Arabic subtitles. What is my life? We have dinner around 9. I try to read or study until I fall asleep around 10:30.

I have a daily planner that I write everything I did that day to track my activities. Here’s my list from Friday March 28:
Went to the market to buy peanut butter
Greeted the Chief of the Village
Talked with the School Director
Ate a mango in the douche. HEAVEN
Studied Wolof notes
Talked with Awa.
Big Day!!!!!!!