Its still hot....why can't it snow...

Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
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24
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Trip End May 2009


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Flag of Senegal  ,
Friday, August 15, 2008

Writing this blog is always so daunting.  So much to say and I never know where to begin.  I guess I'll start with the fact that I ended up taking a mini vacation away from Senegal.  I thought I could hack it and stay here the whole two years but this work is the most frustrating work I've ever done and when friends in France said they could host me, I borrowed against my readjustment allowance to go.  It was the best vacation I ever took, simply because everything that I ever missed, that my heart ever ached for while in Senegal, I got to do it, see it, feel it during this small vacation in France and Spain.  Things I didn't' even plan on doing or seeing just happened like getting to see the Tour de France in Toulouse, getting to hike in the Pyrenees and sled on Snow, wear a sweater, see fireworks on Bastille Day, pick apples and peaches and almonds, drink wine and eat cheese and chocolate for every meal. I was so appreciative of everything, the friends I got to see the new people I met and the book I was reading.  Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle couldn't have been a more fitting read for my vacation, it was all about food and the food culture of the US, and reading it while WWOOFing on the organic farm was unbelievable.  It included recipes that I could try out...oh how I miss cooking! FOOD how I missed food!
But so now I am back in Senegal and it feels good to be back.  I like my village and the people in it and I think I actually have friends and recently just made a new one who took me out into the country and taught me how to milk a cow! My region is beautiful right now because the rain has come.  There's grass everywhere and even I wish I could be a cow roaming freely in this African desert turned green pasture.
There is still a lot of work to do and prepare for and now on top of it all the stress of trying to figure out what I want to do after all this.  I'm still almost 100% certain that I want to apply to be an Interpretive Park Ranger at Denali National Park the summer I return, and I also am 100% certain that I want to be an elementary or middle school teacher...I just don't know where or how I will go about doing that...also do I want to take a year off and live in France or Canada and work more on my French, do I want to travel more before settling down to a real job...so many questions.
I'm starting to reflect on my service already and feel as though my notions of development have changed dramatically, I mean I know they have....and I know I don't want to do international development, mostly I feel as though developing countries are doing fine and they get more screwed up when other people come in and tell them what's good for them...do we really want developing counties to be like the United States?! Really I think we can learn something from them.  Like for instance my family even though they have a satellite TV and are probably the most "developed" family I know, my village actually being the most developed village I know, they still live close to the earth and their carbon footprint is pretty low.  Clothes are washed by hand and dried by the wind, cooking is using a renewable energy (although wood is getting scarce now and its probably more of a hazard in this area to use it) but also for the most part, besides the huge rice consumption, they go to the local market and eat only the fruits and veggies in season and rejoice in the Mango and watermelons when they come only three months out of the year. They can look at the sky and feel the air change to know when it'll rain or when the dry season has officially come.  Even I have started to really live by the environment here and I know when its 6:30 because that's when the first birds start to sing.  I sleep under the stars and count down the months according to the full moons that pass me.  Never have I been so in tune with nature even though I've hiked huge mountains and canoed long rivers and gone camping....I mean I live with electricity and running water here but...its different...so different.
However I also want to acknowledge this little fact.  When did we become really developed...when women got washing machines, when we got air conditioners....is this the future of Africa too...I mean we want women to be liberated but at the cost of including more contraptions and appliances that will only fall apart in the sand storms, I think people are lazy but part of it is that its just really fucking hot!  So what is development....?  Its a really messy situation that I think can only be decided by the people themselves and through education....that's why I want to be a teacher...we can only progress through research and feeding our curiosity. Haman's have the ability for abstract thought is that what they say makes us different from the beasts (I mean other animals)? Well then let's all start using that brain of ours and don't' forget to be happy...its a beautiful world, love it and enjoy it and...well always dance and smile...I guess that's my own personal philosophy. Questions? Comments? Have you ever read "This I Beleive" its another good book to pick up.
I went to the seasonal watering hole the other day and just enjoyed the sound of the birds, busy making their nests, I don't' care to know their names because they are all human given names...I appreciate their song and when I hear the music I look for the colors of their body, smile and that is all.

Cheers cheers to beers and bears, I can't and can wait to get out of he-ah!

love Desneige

P.S More Pictures! go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/dhallbert/FranceVacation02
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Comments

gsm228
gsm228 on

Hang in There
Hey Diz,

Really enjoying reading the entries. I had my girlfriend, an return peace corps volunteer, read one of the earlier ones and she got a little misty eyed. Hang-in there, you'll make it and be happy for it.

Geordie

damahamd
damahamd on

I do so love your stories
Really nice reading about your adventures in Africa. It's great to know these stories will be with you forever to review 1, 5, 10 years from now and beyond. I can't imagine all the nights and days you've spent there. I'm excited that your mother and i will be joining you soon and getting a glimpse at least of what you've experience over a much longer time. I'm anxious to meet your friends.
Think of you ALL the time, hon.
Pappy

lgarsonsmith
lgarsonsmith on

So glad the rain's come!
Desneige, I just read your latest entry and continue to be moved by your insight and courage. What a great idea to take a break in France! Your comments about being close to the land and questions about what is development are right on. Love, Linda

nickouimet
nickouimet on

Hope all is well
Desneige,
Great to read another of your adventures. Glad to hear everything is going well. I've gotten to spend the last two spings, summers and now falls making trips to Denali on the weekends and can see why you fell in love with it so much. I leave for Iraq this September and will be gone for a year. If you end up trying to go to Denali next summer and need a place to make plans or stay in the area we have a huge house in fairbanks that will be totaly unused for the next year.

Take Care
Nick

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