Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Time of Firsts

I am finally getting more comfortable in my surrounds that I am able to notice more cultural things and actual behaviors of the Senegalese, other than seemingly wondering around lost. This last week that I was in Sangalkamp, and about to head back to again here in a few minutes, I took "public transportation" for the first time, went with my host mom to find our goats in the "pasture", go on a unknown trip to bring my host brother lunch, and the list goes on and on.
Public transportation here is something that is not as glamorous as the US but it present and easily accessible none the less! I must say that I am pleasantly surprised how easy it is to find an "Alham" (a form of public transportation, a van, and PCV's refer to them as Alhams because the term "Alhamdulillah" is painted on the front of all of them, meaning Praise Be To God in Arabic) and only pay 100 CFA's (which is about 20 cents) and ride it to the neighboring town about 45 minutes away. All the public transportation is privately owned and they are basically vans that people use to drive people around in, where there is an obvious need in the community there is always someone willing to fill that need.
We have two goats at my house, which I must say I did not even know they existed the first week that I was there. They live in a tiny hut (5X5 I would think) in our backyard at night and I was explained that my host mom brings them to and from the field each day so they can roam around and eat. I was thinking this was a great idea, first off because its free and it gets them out of their closet sized house. One night while Anthony was over my mom gestured that she was going to go get the goats, and of course, I dragged Anthony along for the ride. I just had to see how this process worked! We took a little lid filled with rice and a rope and walked out of the house in search of our little friends. Once we arrived to the field, well a pile of sand and trash to be completely honest I was in shock! I am not sure what I was expecting but I think deep down inside, also feeling a little naive, I would stumble upon acres and acres of green lucious grass. Since Senegal western Senegal is an area of sand, sand and more sand I am not sure why I was expecting anything green but I did not imagine that these goats, or any animal for that matter, would be able to survive picking through the trash and scraps on a big sand pit. Needless to say, we did not find the goats that night and the other time that I went to go with my mom to fetch them we were unable to find them as well. There are many other goats roaming around so I am unable to be helpful in the task of pinpointing our goats out specifically, but one day I am just going to grab whichever two goats I can catch first and bring them home.
The trip to bring my host brother lunch sounds all dandy until you realize that I was unable to speak the language thus not knowing where my mom was talking about when asking me if I wanted to go, not knowing that we are chasing an Alham as it nears departure at the garage (a term used for like a bus station, or van/car station I guess here in Senegal) in order to catch it, not knowing that there is a sufficient reason for getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere to walk through the sand and through a garden to find my host brother resting in a small hut about 1/4 of a mile off the road in the complete middle of nowhere. This sure was an exciting way to spend the afternoon though I must say, my host brother, in his late 30's I would imagine, set up his hand made hammock made out of a vegetable sack and some sticks and let me swing in the shade as my mother tried to feed me more mangos, which I insisted that after the sixth one in the hut I was truly "hadi" (full). We took a tour of the garden where he worked where he should be all the types of peppers, onions, mangos, mint (which I ate a leaf and imagined myself sipping on a Mojito in the states), Basal (I think?), and various other foods.
As time approaches to load our packs into the Peace Corps vans (which are a luxury here in Senegal, they have working air conditioning and lack locals screaming and pounding on the side of the van to get off at every tiny town we pass) I am beginning to wonder what this next week will bring. I am going to attempt to explore my town and use my Pula Futa more. The language is coming along more and I am much more receptive than I was in previous weeks. I have accepted the fact that I will be here for two more years and language will come in time.
Thanks again for reading, take care everyone! I miss you all and can't wait until we chat again. Bisous.



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