Tuesday, November 2, 2010

this roller coaster is fun but it's no six flags or cedar point

still no camera. i think visual aids will resume january 2011 (when i come back from the land of plenty after my little vacation/recharge and have bought a new sand/dust proof camera). life in senegal is like one long roller coaster ride. some days are up days and others are down days. other times, you can have ups and downs all within one day, or even both by 8:30 in the morning. anyway, things ive done in the last 3 weeks and thoughts that have crossed my head...

1. i drank from a bottle that used to contain car break fluid. my breath smelled of sulfur. something i shouldve been worried about?
2. harvesting peanuts is awesome. i legitimately feel like a farmer. it gets monotonous after a while but i brought my speakers and ipod into the field and it was just fun working right beside my family listening to great american music (i listen to enough senegalese music to deserve these breaks). but it got me wondering... being here has made me think of things i never would've thought of back in the states. like picking peanuts for example. there's so much man labor required to pick peanuts and then weed out the bad ones. how do we do it back in the states in such large proportions? it seems almost impossible. i know machines do a lot of the work but how do they separate the bad peanuts? how do the machines differentiate? and then i thought of where the stuff we no longer use anymore - where they go. giant billboard posters for example. answer: they end up here as someones tent or someones roof or covering for trucks loaded with wood. "a diamond is forever", "the fast and the furious 3", "burger king" - a reminder of america and things that weve taken for granted.
3. riding a horse without a saddle or anything is harder than it looks. but fun! next time, i'll use a pillow.
4. i used to think - if i am only allowed to eat what i can successfully grow by myself here, i wouldve starved to death a long time ago. which is absolutely a true statement. but finally my garden is pseudo blossoming. i wish i could take pictures but allah has not granted me a working fixed camera yet. but, i have finally tasted the fruits of my labor! well not fruit, vegetable. okra, to be more specific. and moringa from my moringa bed. my sister made it into a sauce to eat with millet. my moringa was delicious. the millet, still not. fresh vegetables is such a luxury - to be able to pick it and cook and eat it, all within 2 hours. delicious. so i have a decent amount of okra growing. the eggplants and tomato plants are massive but haven't fruited yet. the mint are carrying on as usual. and now in addition, i have a massive plot of bissap (roselle) that will eventually grow to be used in food, and also to make a deliciously sweet beverage. awesome!
5 for a time, i thought the amoebas were back. or something else entirely, like giardia. my symptoms relapsed. it was really depressing - the disappointment at my body. the staph also came back from a while. but now everything is gone (i hope) and all is well. still trying to fatten up. im doing my best but it just isnt working.
6. we went to the local bar at 10am to return a couple of beer bottles and lo and behold, people are already wasted with empty gin bottles lying about. i wonder what alcohol means to people here and what they see as its purpose... curious.
7. here a free range chicken is shared amongst 10 people. in america, a factory raised chicken (and therefore 4x the size, 4x the meat of a senegalese free-range chicken) is shared amongst maybe 3 people. the gluttony that is america is appauling but i miss it so very much. sometimes my body craves protein so bad that when i have access to eggs, i consume 7 or 8 of them in a single sitting. rice is just a space filler - im starving all the time. i wont even mention cassava which has zero nutritional value whatsoever. my family is starving me. instead of buying vegetables and more nutritious items, they waste their money on new clothes. my family is relaively well off - if you only just look around the community and compare it to others. but it is definitely poor by Amereican standards. so stop wasting money. stop malnourishing yourselves. stop starving me.
8. sometimes i think america is destroying their culture. middle of nowhere rural desert africa is no place for american rapper inspired baggy jeans, tasteless profane tshirts, and rocked flat-billed caps.
9. the ny minute vs waiting - i have always been a fast paced kind of person. this slow paced lifestyle and work ethic is killing me. sitting around gives me more stress than working with stressful people. this snail crawl is so hard to live with...
10. i walked around (and sorta got lost) in the desert, by myself. it's quite a feeling, being so alone. i was visiting a village about 5k away that had no water, no electricity, no health facilities - basically a village i want to work with. it required forging a stagnant stream which was really gross (i feel like definitely caught something new) and following a barely visible tire track in the sand that criss crossed and diverged and converged every so often. it was cool though. i'll never be able to do this again in my life so gonna enjoy the isolation.
11. my project will fail. my boss (well sorta, not really) finally came up to hold a meeting with all the important members of my project and for the last 3 weeks, that was what i was doing - getting people to come to this meeting. i wanted 2 representatives from the 9 villages, preferably matrones and ASCs but if they dont exist, i set up potential relais, women with motivation that want to help their village. i also invited my chief of village, my ICP, my counterpart, the president of the health committee, treasurer of the health committee, a USAID - plan NGO worker in the district, and my sous-prefet of my arrondissement. i continuously had trouble getting charette rides or car rides. and when i met these people, they always told me "enshallah" meaning allah willing, meaning maybe - the worst response you can get when you really want definite answers. up until the morning of, i really thought no one was going to show up. and they didnt for the first hour and a half. of course it's senegal and when i say a meeting starts at 9am, it means show up at 11:20am. i literally had people showing up 3 hours late, but i guess they eventually did come which is what really matters. it's a slow progress and most likely my project will fail because it's so timeline based but i will try my best. i also realized i failed at language acquisition. my wolof still sucks. it's unfortunate.

went to halloween. tamba is a magical place. our region is really deprived. we live without anything in life.

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