Friday, June 4, 2010

Made it through the Wilderness

*Have been trying to post pictures all night and its not working. I will try to post some soon!
Hello Friends,
 I hope this email finds you well wherever you are. Things here are good!  I am learning to embrace a life much  slower paced than I am used to. My village is great and I really like the family I am living with.  My host father is a cattle herder and owns an ample number of cows. I got to help round them up the other day and will be helping  milk them next week.  I have come to love these cows because they provide the most delicious milk, which after being left to sour is then mixed with sugar to create, what they call, Coasn.  It is then usually  added to rice or letcherie and, oh my, its the best!

  My host father is not only the village chief, but has three of his children living in Spain thus my family is a little more patron then others.  He is a very quiet and content man who is extremely interesting to observe.  I was watching him make rope the other day and it was absolutely fascinating. I am amazed at how the people function here and how they find a use for everything.  For example, after unpacking all my stuff i had some cardboard boxes. I told my mom i did not need them and gave them to her to throw away.  A couple hours later I saw one of the little boys running around pulling the box by a string.  Then the next day it became a trough for the donkeys. 

My host mom is a gentle giant. She is loving but I would no way want to be enemies with this huge Pulaar woman. She is the president of the women's group and holds a lot of ground in the community. I  got to accompany her on National Women's Day (of Senegal) where i met a lot of the local officials.

My host parents have 10 children aging from 9-30. 3 of them live in the village, 3 of them in spain, 1 in darkar and 3 in Vellingara.  One of the sons who lives in Spain has a house in Velingara where his wife and their children live. (accompanied by some of his siblings)  It's really nice and they have a TV. Which means soap operas with english subtitles.  I can't tell you how nice it is to watch TV after a long day of speaking Pulaar.  I am also addicted to the TV show GLEE which is apparently popular back in the states.  PC's have a remarkable collection of downloads.

So besides drinking lots of Cosan, my meals consist of laicirri, rice, and millet.  My family makes me eat so much,  It has has actually become a game.  Before I understood how to play this game I would  find my self extremely full.  If you say you are full, they laugh at you and say "no eat more you are too skinny".  Then I respond, "no really i am sooo full i can't eat anymore, my tummy is too big."  they say "no eat". i say "no". They say "take two more bites", i say "okay" and take two more bites and then they say "they were small bites take two more". It goes on like this for about 15 minutes.  So I have just learned to say "I am full" when I am about really half way full.  It works quite well.

I got to help with a vaccination campaign and meet the health workers in the two villages next to mine. I have been very stimulated meeting so many new people. They are all very excited to get projects going and work with me. Another volunteer and i are working on a bike project for the health workers. I will be emailing about that in the next couple of months. Right now my work consists of learning the language, adjusting into a new community and connecting with it's people.

It has only been a week, but I find that  going to sleep under the stars and rising with the sun is quite wonderful.  Though I could do without the biting ants, and scorpians running around the dinner bowl, I am leaning to embrace this new simplistic lifestyle.

Miss you all! Thanks for reading. There is so much more to share about my new family, but so little time. Hope to give you more details soon.
until next time,

1 comment:

  1. That all sounds great to me, the parts of the times I've spent in other countries that I remember as good always involve getting out to the fringe areas where people live in the local way. I remember that "no eat" advice from another place and for different reasons, from traveling with a military instructor who didn't speak much english and had to stop me from tasting things that weren't actually food. Hope I get back to your blog again, you can't really learn much from just hiking through a place. You have to stay put for awhile.