Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shit just got real!

Not a lot of internet time so gonna try to type quick. Going back to the village soon where theres no internet so text or call me! My number is 77-118-0814. I think when you dial or text from the states it’s like 011-221-77-118-0814 or something like that. You can google how to make calls to Senegal slash all of you should get phone cards!

Ummmmmm……. So whats my Senegalese name?! yes… it is… actually prounced… ::drum roll:: ASS JOB. It’s spelled Ass Diop and ass actually means the trek to Mecca (since it’s a muslim country and all) but HAHAHAHAHAHA… there’s a ton of Ass’ in my village and a Doodu Can (sp?). These names are awesome and ridiculous.

ANYWAY, backtrack… so I am starting to learn Wolof, a local language, and getting my French up to speed. The language learning process is kind of intense. First, they drop us off with our host families in nearby villages and literally we go from mini-America training center to being immersed in Wolof/French only. But I guess my language abilities are improving quicker than usual. My host family is pretty awesome. They put up with all my bull – so I just realized that I’m terrible at this body language thing and trying to get a point across when you don’t know the language and you suck at charades is really frustrating but we get along (I think) so it’s all good. They listen to Sean Paul and Akon and it’s just totally such a dance culture – but I cant break out moves because I don’t think it’s really acceptable for boys to booty shake or hardcore grind or whatever it is that I do when I dance haha.

Meals are awesome. Communal bowl sharing has been taken to a new level… there are like 10 of us around each bowl and hands are just flying everywhere. My little brothers and sisters are so adorable but their dirty hands, sigh. They wash them but let’s be honest… they are totally not clean at all. So when I’m not learning Wolof, I’m learning to garden (because we’ll have to maintain a garden when we go to our actual village if we want certain vegetables… which btw are totally a commodity here). And by learning to garden, I mean I touch manure all day with my hands. And so do all the children that help us. These kids are totally all into poop – it’s totally like not a taboo gross thing. I am slowly becoming desensitized to feces of all animals (mine included), which totally makes sense. India was all about poop. Here again. Even during training, we play with manure (I exaggerate… kinda) all day so it’s just kinda becoming the norm more and more… like totally fineeeeeee, lol.

I hate donkeys. Like an intense hatred of donkeys. And crickets. These animals absolutely have no purpose making any kind of noise what so ever. Their obnoxious cricking or hee-hawing at 3 or 4 in the morning is just… unfortunate. But all in all, village life aint so bad.

Some stories to tell and lots more to describe but no time now. Maybe in like 2 weeks or so…

and some pictures!

this is our makeshift fire stove that we have to build. it costs about $1 to make with all the supplies bought locally and it's like super efficient and will boil water 3x as fast as just an open pit fire so it's eco friendly since it saves wood. it's like fucking awesome...

an actual iron that you dont plug in but instead but charcoal in... SWEET

my toilet which doubles as a shower room. dont judge!

our mud stove that we had to learn to make. also eco friendly. not as efficient as a rocket stove but still saves wood too. AND we can make it into animals... zebra anyone?!

this is my awesome host family eating around the communal during lunch...

cheeb u jenn! totally spelled it wrong. it's pretty much fish and veggies and rich. SO GOOD.

my little brother and sister. adorable and sassy!

and this is my home. you totally thought i was gonna live in a hut! (slash i totally will be in like 2-3 months)...

OK gotta go!!!! leave comments! call or text me! miss you all!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Senegal, say hello to the storm that is Justin

Finally blogging! Most definitely alive and well, and I guess lots to tell! Let’s start from the beginning…

Arrived in DC on the 8th and had orientation with everyone all day. Then PC (peace corps) gave us some money and told us to go enjoy ourselves on our last night in the states. Of course we went out to eat and then go drinking after – a piano bar in Georgetown (slash Ann Arbor totally needs a piano bar...) Everyone was great and a lot of fun! Got slightly sloshed but so was everyone else. This is going to be a great! I thought I would be the wildest one in the group and I think I definitely have a couple of good matches.

The next day, the 9th, we went to get some shots (the kind you get in the arm – lol gotta start differentiating from this point on) and then it was off to the airport. The 7 hour flight was not bad at all. We arrived in Dakar on the 10th and took a 2 hour minivan ride to Thies, where our training center was located.

So the food is phenomenal. Like I could absolutely eat this every day for the rest of my life. Lunch was this rice and beef dish. We basically all sat on the floor in little groups around these very large communal bowls Рbig enough to bathe babies. There was rice with spices and veggies and beef and this saut̩ed onions sauce. Sooo good!!!

The afternoon was filled with interviews, which were a lot of fun too. I had to speak French a lot all day, which I wasn’t prepared to do at all so it was quite interesting trying to form broken sentences, describing things with sentences because I forgot the actual word (skyscrapers becomes houses that are very big and tall, etc.) I think the best was the medical interview. So we’re given a couple of pills for malaria prevention. One makes your skin super sensitive to sunlight but it also clears your acne… so clear skin and beautiful tan? Haha. The other gives you vivid dreams and nightmares. I think this will be quite exciting. Waiting another week for the drug to take effect. Already getting a ton of mosquito bites but I don’t think malaria is looming so alllll gooooddddd….

We also got vitamins to supplement our diet (not that we really need to at this point) but the funny thing is that the label says they’re like prenatal vitamins for pregnant or lactating women. I don’t think I’m pregnant or lactating haha. No but they said something about them having proteins and calcium and all this stuff that’s natural that makes them actually really good for you. Yay for being healthy.

Late in the afternoon, we had a huge tamtam… aka DANCE PARTY!!! Lol these guys came in with drums and we had the center teachers teach us dances. It was awesome, especially when the local children from the neighborhood joined in. ummm, AMAZING! So I have a video of us all dancing together but the file is so big and the internet is not fast enough to post it. Let’s see how I can youtube this sometime… I also really haven’t had much opportunity to pull my camera out – I will try to take more photos soon (though posting them poses to be a problem again.)

On the 11th, we started our classes and began learning about the different cultures, religions, and etiquettes. Oh and get more shots lol. Anyway, I guess one of the noteworthy classes was the “douching” one, where we learned to clean ourselves post-defecation without toilet paper. Haha, of course I attempted this a couple of hours later! Yes, I used my left hand! It was definitely… an interesting experience. With more practice, I will get it perfect! lol I am totally shaking all of you with my left hand when I come home!!

Many more new firsts to come. I think everyone here is wonderful. Things are getting along and I feel much more productive with my life than I have in the past half a year. Lets keep things going!

Miss yall!

My phone number is 011 221 77 118 0814
i think that's how you dial it. call or text me!!! just remember that i am 5 hours ahead of you, east coast time. once i can go to the village, i will buy some time for the phone.