Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Week and a Little Update

Good thing all of the thousands that read my blog don’t pay money for a subscription, otherwise you would be mighty upset with the time between this post and my last. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.
My last week was great! I had the chance to go to Dakar and stay in a fancy hotel for three nights with some of my best friends in my stage (training class). Our time was filled with air conditioning, amazing food (great sushi in Dakar, who knew?), laying by the pool, watching Christmas movies, exchanging Christmas gifts, and in my case sleeping three to a bed in search of a cheaper vacation. I am sure you have seen the pictures that I posted on Facebook so I am not going to go into too much detail but I received a hand woven little basket that now houses my jewelry along with a necklace and bracelet made of elephant tusks. Shout out to Marsha who was my secret Santa, great gift!! I was given the wonderful opportunity to get a secret Santa present for Trevon who just so happens to be the pickiest person I know, he might argue he just has great taste. You could just about imagine how much fun it was to shop for him and being my predictable self I waited until the day before I left site to try to find him something. He “non-chalently” told me on the phone one day that if I had him I could just get him a Pular hat. Acting about as sly as I could muster up I laughed it off and told him he wish I had him. So it was official, I now had to find a Pular hat for him. I know he wants one and I live in Pular country. What is a Pular hat you may ask? Well Pular is an ethnic group originating from Guinea but are all over Africa now. I am apart of this group as I learned Pula Futa during training, which is just one of the many dialects of the Pular group. The Pular people live in the south of Senegal, as do I, and are known to work in fields. They have this infamous almost Chinaman-like hat hand woven of wood used to keep the sun off them in the fields. You can find people wearing them everywhere down south and though they look a bit ridiculous the hats are great for protecting yourself from the sun. I ended up finding a man who makes them and he told me he could come up with something in the 24 hour deadline that I had before I left for Dakar. I was expecting something with brown or black leather but the artist was feeling fancy I guess because on the hat there was red, green, and yellow died leather. Oh well, it looked great and he loved it. Success.
Being away for Christmas is always hard but it makes me even more thankful for everyone that I left behind. I truly do have a great family, and I am not just talking about my immediate. I am fortunate to have people back home that care enough about me to Skype with me or send me care packages of all the things I am missing back home. Every day that I am here I am reminded, literally reminded by people telling me, that I am getting older, I need to get married and start a family. Though I do support people who make those decisions for their own lives it is not what I want, at least not right now, and I am thankful for a family who respects that. If I belonged to just one of hundreds of other cultures around the world I would not have the opportunity to further my education, travel, and have a career. Thank you family for being who you are, the loving, noisy yet ever so entertaining group that you are; this goes for both sides. It’s late but Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël (French), and Ala Okuma Ko Moyi (Pular).
I am planning on staying in Velingara and spending the New Year with my family. I have been traveling a lot lately with the holidays and mandatory trainings and am honestly a little interested to see just how the Senegalese welcome the New Year. Omar, a friend of my brothers, said they kill a chicken, make salad and the kids light off fireworks. Besides the chicken part it sounds like a great time to me! Updates to come.
And as a side note I feel like I need to mention the latest intruder that I have found in my room. A toad. Or maybe it was a frog. Not really sure he was too hoppy for me to take a good look at him but he was less of a hassle to chase out of my room than the usual suspects so I am thankful for that.
And finally, as sort of a time filler and to help out my fellow volunteers I have been writing articles for our CED Newsletter (Community Economic Development, the program that I am in if you have been following along in past posts). None of the pieces are works of art but they are informative. The newsletters come out quarterly so it’s not too much of a commitment, which I like. I will start to post either my more interesting articles or the whole newsletter in case any of you feel like you don’t read enough about life on the big continent. Take care my fellow readers, thanks for taking time to see life through my eyes and until next time.


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