Autumn in Africa

Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
1
18
27
Trip End May 2009


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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, December 8, 2007

Where do I begin. I suppose with the end of the rainy season which was a very defining week here in Linguere Senegal, which is apparently the epicenter of dryness.  I came back from a fabulous week in Tamba Kounda where I got to see many of my fellow volunteers who live very far from me for Halloween.  The road down was covered in potholes and what should take only perhaps three hours takes six.  I was a black widow spider and hennaed webs on my palms.  We made watermelon Jack O'Laterns which were amazing I'm sorry I forgot to take pictures.  Really we should do away with pumpkins at Halloween and focus putting all our energy into making a winter watermelon variety, these Jack O-Lanterns where that beautiful and super easy to make and you get to eat all the pink juicy stuff inside.
Also I  got to eat a Subway Sandwich and Starbucks Coffee on the streets of Tamba...not really but my friend Laura and I found the equivalent as we spoke in English to each other and pulaar and wolof to those passing by looking at the Toubobs eating sandwiches.  These sandwiches were the first I've seen of their kind...they had lettuce and cucumbers and onions and fish.  Seriously we were so excited to have vegetables in a sandwich I think we cried a little, usually its spaghetti or beans or eggs...which I also really like and I think I might open a sandwich shop and offer the Senegal Sandwich.  Then we sat down at a little street vendor's table and had Cafe Touba, this clove spice tasting tea with milk, practically a Chai really, and just like being home meeting with friends at a coffee shop we sipped out plastic mugs and chatted about our lives. Oh the things you can't believe you miss.
While returning from that little extravaganza, I wrote a little jingle about the pot-holed roads, I chatted it up with some ladies in the back of a Alhum (a very fat bus we usually use for cheap transportation) and bought some Senegalese "lingerie" from women selling to the bus passengers-every garage is free game for vending. The ladies loved my selections (P.S don,t any of you be getting any ideas, this "lingerie" is an important part of the dressing up for special occasions and the ladies from my village make fun of me for not having one at their weekly dance parties so it was indeed a necessity and I will make all who visit me buy one as well...It is true culture my friends and the only topic of conversation that women love to talk about, really we are not that different I suppose...) anyway then I almost got my baggage stolen out of a taxi, while I was in it and it was moving, yes at a slow pace and down a dark alley, but I screamed by head off at the guy and I think thats what brought on the worse sore throat I think I've every head in my life. 
The end of the rainy season coincided with my return.  The change of climate from Tamba to Linguere exacerbated the change of season and I got sick with the sore throat, fever and night time was the worse because my mouth was always dry and my nose and oh, how thankful I am to be well again. Enough said about that.
A few weeks later I had some emotional roller coasters dealing with my projects in village.  No one ever shows to your meetings when they say they will and finally when you think you are at your wits end and you tell them that you are at your wits end, then things start to happen. So that is how the trash project has finally started.  We have two charettes and horses and have gone around to all the women's meetings to explain the separation of trash for the compost and landfill respectively. Then hopefully I can insist on having the tiny recycling program going too so I can have lots of material for my main projects at the school.
The school is going.  I now have 32 students picked out for my Environmental, Theater and Art group. Each group has 12 students, 6 girls and 6 boys, two students from each grade. Great right? but no not really because a month and a half has gone by and still we have not really met. No one can decide on what the best day to meet is, the teachers I am supose to team teach these groups with seem to always have something going on and well its just taking a really long time...also a funny story: We finally had our school cleaning of the garden and while the boys raked in the garden and helped me cut trees, the girls were on the outside of the garden fence sweeping, yes actually sweeping the sand with brooms like all households do here.  The "living" room is fittingly located outside and every day the women sweep their houses and sift the sand to make it pretty, and it is. So why would it be different at the school. The only issue is that they aren't picking up the plastic bags and papers laying around and instead are only sweeping the tree seeds and rocks, the good stuff that we want to stay on the ground.  I asked 'why are you sweeping the sand and not picking up the plastic" a girl replied "the sand is dirty"...this will be a very hard concept to overcome for all parties involved.
All and all though I am doing really well and I realize that I just need to let things happen as they happen...you can't rush development.  I'm learning this the hard way it seems but always when I have a rough day something nice like a good laugh always happens to counter the frustration so, this is life.
In other news I want you all to know that I'm now tightly tucked into bed under a sheet with my mosquito net in my room because its actually getting cold now. I've also purchased a bathrobe, its green and beautiful and I love it after my cold showers.  I have a cricket infestation and they sing me to sleep every night and I had my first scorpion visitor the other night.  Somehow I don't think he'll be visiting again since he is dead, clubbed to death by the end of my broom.  I was so excited to see one too but when it actually invited itself in...ha. Heebi jeebies all over.

I love and miss you all!  Desneige

P.S Thank you for all the letters and e-mails and pictures.  Keep them coming.  There is nothing like hearing from my buds from the states.  I also have a collage on my wall with all the pretty cards and paper you send. Also Christmas I am planning to be in village and I'm going to cook for my fam some fudge and hot cocoa and maybe some wassel Senegal style.  So Happy Holidays to everyone and remember no packages please, letters are best and free for me and I might be getting a CD player (gift to myself and besides I have a electricity why not?), I really miss listening to music thats not through headphones, so be ready to send home-made Mix CD's to me soon. I think those will be stamped like letters but I am not sure. I'll let you know, so wait to hear from me again. Ok?! love love Desneige

More Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/dhallbert/UntitledAlbum 
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Comments

lizjarrell
lizjarrell on

Desneige!
Desneige, it's been great reading your blogs. It sounds like you may be getting a little frustrated, but hang in there! I was wondering if you could confirm your mailing addres, I want to make sure I still have the right one. I miss and love you dearly...Liz

lgarsonsmith
lgarsonsmith on

Hi from Linda Garson Smith
Hi Desneige. I enjoyed reading your latest posting. I think you've got enough stories for a book! It's a winter wonderland outside with 12-18 inches of snow and a nor'eastr on the way today/tonight. Temperatures are about 6-8 degrees, but go up to the 20's during the day. I went cross country skiing yesterday with Chris Harrington on the middle school trails. The sun sparkled on the powdery snow as the wind blew across the fields. For the holidays, a K-Team staffer person, Angela, has taken the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and cleverly adapted it to include all the students in the K-team. The students are going to perform it at All School Meeting this week.
Have the teachers agreed on a date to start teaching yet? The different sense of time must be a patience tester and open up a new perspective on African culture. I have a class of 11 boys this year! They are pretty sweet and I'm teaching them, one by one, how to knit. I admit that I haven't looked into funding for cameras, but I do plan to. That's why it's taken me a while to write back to you, because I feel chagrined that I haven't taken care of that.
When I received your letter, I typed up your story for everyone to read and they really enjoyed it. Keep up the excellent work, Desneige. You are an inspiration. Love, Linda

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