Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 1 of 730 with my V-card

and so begins the adventure. the two years starts... now. these last two days were just partying and hanging out with our host families and then swearing in, in Dakar, at the Ambassador's residence. let me say, it is a sweet ass crib. maybe i should consider becoming an ambassador somewhere. if my wolof and french get really good after two years, i would totally consider here. wolof, french, english, and chinese - the 4 pretty basic needs of senegal - since now there's a lot of business with china and all. anyway, these two months really did go by quickly and im super amazed at how we've all picked up the local languages. tomorrow i will be traveling to my residence for the next 2 years. got a lot of furniture to buy and a lot to learn about traveling locally in my region. dont know my internet situation but it'll probably be a while til my next blog. my address for sending mail has changed so check out the bar on the right side of the page. the v-card reference is pertaining to our status - going from PC trainees to PC volunteers. it's official. but i digress as usual. i'll let the pictures do the talking.

this is me and my mom and me in my senegalese booboo with a little touch of american culture. obviously. if only you can see the patterns on the outfit - BUBBLES!

another of my brother and mom and me. had to change because i didnt want to get my booboo dirty because i needed it the next day for swearing in.

a group photo of tassette group with our families and our LCF (language and cultural trainer)

i dont think ive ever posted a picture of what a bar looks like here so here it is! it's pretty much someone's courtyard, someone's home. talk about divey? yeah... love it!

team GOODWIN! the awesome group that's going to the linguere/louga region - the only 4 that can actually live in the hot desert and make it out alive. YOU KNOW!

rainbow? pride? lol senegalese clothing is just awesome.

light sky blue is beautiful.

and of course we have to do a jump photo!

team wolof - my language group. ballerrr!!!!

a michigan wolverine photo. obviously we didnt know each other during college - and we can thank our enormous school for that - what a sad fact.

and group photo!

we are awesome. well, here's to success in all our projects. i miss you guys back in the states. wish we could chill together but 730 days... not long at all.

oh and got some internet time so posted a couple of random videos:
1. the junior high prom that i was talking about in the last post - vid 1, vid 2, vid 3
2. young kids rapping - do we blame france or america?
3. and a pula fouta dancing troupe

miss yall! and comment bitches!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

remember that time we crashed two baptisms and a junior high prom?

this is our last week of training. after friday, we will officially be peace corps volunteers and next week, we will be sent to our villages for the start of our 730 days of service. talk about how time flies! these last few days have been full of activities and new adventures, lots of mixed emotions and feelings. we have left our 'practice' host families and have returned to the center for our final week of training and examinations. it's a pretty traumatic time but i am getting ahead of myself.

two months of hard work gardening and yay our garden looks... semi decent! lol, the forest of bean plants just makes up for the other patches of our garden where nothing grows. but i am proud nonetheless of what we've done. it's been tough, a school falling on our garden and all.

this is a pretty good summary of life in the village. solitude. haha not really, ok maybe just a little. photographs cant capture it but look how sad the donkey is, all alone in the middle, purposeless, wandering nowhere. on a better note, i no longer hear donkeys calling out in the middle night. instead, it's the mefloquine that's keeping me up now. i should really switch but i guess it's fine.

i will really miss my 'practice' village of tassette. we made many friends and i was just starting to get to know people. now i know why living 2 years with your village, it will be very hard to leave afterward. during our volunteer visit, we had to pick up a volunteer who was done with her village and not gonna lie, i teared a little watching her departure. the village loved her so much and she loved them. women and children were crying, the men were saying a prayer and everyone joined in. it was so beautiful and so touching. i am so blessed to have this experience. it was hard to leave tassette but i will definitely visit my family and friends there over the next 2 years.

we went to watch a junior high futbol game. the junior high consists of about 5 classrooms and just a courtyard of sand for futbol. thinking back to all the amenities that we had access to when we went to school, they really need and deserve more than what i can ever give them.

these are the women in our village cooking a feast. ever wonder how much food and preparation go into events? there was an event at the school and the women all gathered in our family compound. they slaughtered an entire cow and pretty much cooked it in a couple of pots, large enough to boil babies. preparation took all night the night before and all morning the day of. it's so impressive to cook for an entire village. unbelievable. it was quite good actually, and there were olives!

just another shot of the pots. the amount of fire wood consumed is quite frightening.

i LOVE this baby. this may be the baby that i will take back home (haha jk, well enshallah). how's this one becky? he's soo adorable. lol

as was india and nepal, it is no different here. boys holding hands with boys is no biggie. same with girls. why is western culture so drastically different?

now... this was amazing. it was quite the best last weekend in tassette ever. we got to crash this 'prom' as we call it just because the whole week prior, girls were weaving their hair and braiding and just getting all beautiful, the boys were shaving their heads and getting all spiffy. and then we get to this 'prom' which turned out to be a terrible variety show but boy, was american rap culture rubbing off here. the boys all rapped or lipsynced and try to act as gangster as possible while the girls and children sat around oogling. it was quite a sight actually. there was some dancing but it was kind of like 6th grade dance where the boys dance together and the girls dance separately. sad and cute.

just a shot of the girls all dressed up with their hairs all braided. everyone is quite pretty if i may say...

our neighbor doodoo can rapping. i love his name...

and then after, we crashed a baptism. it was so funny because we just walked in and they were like here, come eat! and that was bizarre - it was a bowl of rice with foie (liver) and a heart in the middle. the mom threw us all a piece of liver so we had to eat it. yeah, still not a big fan of dry weird tasting meat. im glad she didnt throw us a piece of heart. that wouldve topped it. anyway, it was a pula fouta baptism so slightly different but just as enjoyable. the dancing was phenom, never really saw the baby... hmm

a birds eye view of the surroundings of tassette. yesterday was our 2 month anniversary in senegal. i am really here... rad

this is the second baptism that we crashed. it was quite embarrassing because we tried to leave in the middle of a prayer because we thought we were overstaying our stay but the head of the household literally shouted "wait, come back, eat!". everyone turned their heads and stared at the tuubaabs. it was... yeah. but we got to eat lax which is just millet with soured milk aka yogurt, which is delicious. i want more yogurt in my life... let's see if the north can make that happen.

the children around the children bowl scavenging for any little bit of lax. this reminds me of the night before when we tried to crash a soiree, which never really happened because we got there too early and parties dont start til after midnight or like around 1am. that's just too late for my old body. it was in this abandoned shack which was quite shady. perfect place for kidnapping tuubaabs really. oh well... this weekend when we swear in, in dakar, we will go out to a club in style. it will be legendary!

my 'second' dad. my family is such jokers. i will miss them dearly...

we got traditional clothes made. dont they look awesome?! i didnt get to take a picture of mine but im sure i'll have some pictures by the end of the week that i will try to post sometime... whenever lol. it's kinda big on me. i look like a potato sack really but it'll do.

the last family photo we took. it's missing a couple of women but it'll have to do. i will definitely visit them in 2 months time when we return from the desert. never knew i could get attached to people i knew so little, but it happens. hospitality and humor does something to you. that's the only really cool thing about senegalese culture. no matter how small or insignificant a thing is, it is still shared amongst everyone. the other night, we had a can of coke and literally it was poured into like 10 glasses so that everyone could get a sip. a jolly rancher is cut into 3rds so that every child can get a taste. it's really awesome. but i digress.

so as i sit here typing this post after my last oral wolof examination, which enshallah i passed, i feel relief that everythings going pretty smoothly. excited that i will begin my journey as a volunteer a week from today but also nervous that i will be on my own from now on. we will hang out in dakar after swear in so some more exploring possibly? dont know when the next blog post will be...

leave comments! miss yall! and check out the entry below if you havent already. a million reasons why you should come visit me, aside from the obvious because you love me reason... =)

Monday, May 10, 2010

this is why you should visit Justin in Senegal

Quick blog because i'll let the pictures do the talking. The other day, we got to take a break from all our training so we all went to the beach as a group and may I just say, wow. I thought Mbour was pretty but Popenguine is unbelievable. It may or may not be the best kept secret of Senegal. It's tucked away and highly undeveloped so there arent hotels or clubs or obnoxious tourists everywhere. All the houses that border the beach can be privately rented. There are a couple of bars and restaurants and the rest is just bliss. It may just be the best, most quiet escape you can possibly ask for.

The view from a restaurant.

The view from our "MTV" house balcony.

And the other side...

the path to get to the beach from the house...

the stairs leading to our house...

umm, are we still in Senegal?

I never got to take a picture of our house from the outside but this should suffice. Just another house a few houses down... beautiful much?

the inside of the house. now let's talk about why it is super feasible for you to come visit. this house was HUGE and for a house that size, decently priced. It was $400 total for 2 days and 1 night and this house could fit all 40 of us. I paid $10. There are plenty of bedrooms and lounge about spaces. We rented out 2 small buses which cost $4 per person, round trip to and from Thies. Beer is about $1-2 here and booze starts at $3 for a fifth. you can eat a pretty good meal which includes lots of wine and meat and stuff for around $15-20.

so when yall feel the need to take a break from your real lives and want to plan a trip together, come to Senegal because it's cheap and beautiful and simply amazing. and im here too. lol