Saturday, March 10, 2012

the countdown...

2 years. 24 months. 730 days. 
it seemed like a long time, and yes there were times when i thought life was crawling at a snail's pace, but in retrospect, time flew. and now i feel like i'm running out of time. i'm trying to get all these last projects finished and the grants closed up. i'm trying to say goodbye to other volunteers, to friends, to my host family and village. traveling, seeing the world, adventures... they're really awesome things to do but there's a shitty side to it too. the goodbyes. the world separates you. oceans separate you. even time zones separate you. and you want to keep in touch, and you'll try your very best, but many people that you have gotten to know well, that you have grown fond of, that you love, it'll be years, maybe decades, before you see them again. or you will never see them again. transitions = life motif. 
the exchanging of goodbyes have started...

in the last couple of months, i've been traveling, visiting the rest of the family. the extended family. the dakar side of the family. kinship is a completely fascinating, intricate and complex weaving of last names and bloodlines. i cant keep any of it straight but i guess not many can. i wish some of my extended family lived with me in yang yang my last two years. but this makes traveling and seeing them all the more better. 

like our malaria tour last year, this time we did a tour on moringa, this magical tree that's super nutritious. it really is a miracle tree and i guess the only reason we don't eat it in america is because there's no point. we have every vegetable and fruit and meat and cheese and carbs at our fingertips for decent prices. but here, moringa can combat malnutrition. or it can be just good for everyone. healthier people. healthy people get sick less. prevention. and what makes it even better is that it's so easy to grow. back when i had a garden of my own (sigh), one of the only successful few things i had was moringa. 

the women of my women's garden are good. they finally got the door done! granted it took them months, and senegal time was not so optimal but i guess in the end, all that matters is that it happened! 

and things are growing... the whole fruits of your labor thing... sweet

cabbage... at the state when it starts to curl up into a ball. they're tricky because if an insect accidentally gets stuck inside, it'll obviously just eat its way out and destroy the entire cabbage. but how fascinating. i never thought about how cabbage gets to be so layered. and to watch it happen right before your eyes, now that is hands on science. the way things work

i invited abby, a fellow agriculture volunteer up to do another garden training, optimal spacing and hot season techniques and such. my eaux et foret agent (think governmental agent specifically assigned to grow and transplant trees) promised me he'll bring in some shade trees and wind breakers in the future. exciting!

a few random thoughts:
i always thought horses and donkeys get the shit end because pulling a cart is hard and heavy. nope! i easily pulled a cart!! granted, i dont think i would be able to do it at a galloping pace, nor would i be able to do it uphill, but hey, i feel a little better, and more appreciative of these wonderful beasts of labor. 

i never have to visit texas because i live in texas (or what i imagine texas to look like, ie. cattle, cattle, cattle)

i haven't had a major haircut since may 2009. and february 2012, i chopped that long hair off. i might keep this mohawk slash fohawk thing going for a while. unless it's all unprofessional and all in america...

the djolof (my region) has camels (as you've seen). but we recently discovered... ostriches!!! ostrich riding (or racing) has been added to my bucketlist. they are awesomely bizarre creatures. and now the djolof is even more awesome.

senegal's presidental elections... ahh what a fiasco. dakar was on fire but i guess not enough deaths for it to be major news in america. but generally, it came and went pretty peacefully. it was actually anticlimatic. but in the end, good, because we don't want something like cote d'ivoire or the arab spring here.  
the days leading up to the election, we accidentally ran into political rallies. who knew we would have political rallies so far into the bush. the politicians actually came up here!! (though we'll never see them again, ever because why else would they return up here?)

there's always drumming, and dancing...

this is why readjusting to america is going to be hard. i find how they dress, cool. 

yup, thats abdoulaye wade! the current president who's trying to run for re-election even though he's already had 2 terms and the constitutional limit is 2 terms. he definitely did a double take on the toubabs (white people) standing by the side of the road watching his entourage go by. 

chaos! there seemed to be so many supporters. so many free tshirts! (it was all a show though. wade did not win the djolof.)

he tried very hard though. did wade buy my host dad (an importantly located village chief) and other key people cars?! hmm...

i wonder where he got all this money to buy hundreds and hundreds of cars (literally ~400 or so i've been told) and give them away for free. and here i am, riding a donkey cart... ahh life in the bush...

bottle caps = toys. football (soccer). intriguing game.

remember that chicken that my awesome health worker gave me? well it got big and pretty. so my family killed it. and we ate it. (i don't know how i feel about this deep down, but hey, we never [extremely rarely] eat chicken so...) 

i've been trying to work out. it's not working. but i did run in a 5k marathon the other day (and got a free tshirt! don't say orange like an american. say it with a pretentious french accent). it was to raise money for our michele sylvester scholarships (you know, the scholarship where we help out girls pay their tuitions for school). i nearly died the couple of days after. i never knew my legs could be in that much pain. that's what i get for not exercising more. or running for the first time in my life (i don't count elementary school gym)

i went down to kolda to visit my friend dave. his region is magical. i'm glad i did not come visit beforehand or else i would've been terribly sad my entire service, stuck in a thorn-filled desert when he lives in paradise. there's a mango tree right in front of his picturesque village hut. none of that ugly cement crap. and he can just pick a mango off the tree when it ripes. fantastic!

bamboo furniture... it's all very cozy.

green. water. lush.

and dirty... but pigs! pork!

remember all that cash money from my last blog entry? well here's a preview of what i did with it. it's not ready yet. maybe next blog post...

 oh and 2 year anniversary!! can you imagine?! two years ago, on this date actually (!), i arrived in senegal. and now, a whole other new group of kids have just arrived. our replacements. the future. idealistic. with dreams. 

senegal, love you. hate you. leaving you soon... ambivalent as always