Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Official Few Weeks

I’m officially a Peace Corps Volunteer now and have moved into my home in the village of Madjaly!  My new host family is awesome, very respectful of my privacy and my strange American habits such as reading books for fun, going on runs, listening to strange music, and brushing my teeth (and with toothpaste nonetheless)!  They are helpful with learning more about Senegal and village life, teaching me how to eat with my hands, pull water, and carry things on my head!  They eat well (meaning I am happy since I’m sure all of you are well aware that if I eat well, I am happy and if not…)  All the women in my compound cook delicious dinners and I quickly went from wanting to only eat lunch with my family, to wanting to eat lunch and every other dinner with them, to wanting to eat only breakfast by myself!  I realized that cooking for yourself in the dark is, well, lonely, and if your moms cook well, there is little motivation to eat alone.  When I miss American food I will simply cook a meal for them and then we can all share it together.  It’s hard going from eating with about 10 people around one bowl to eating all by yourself; I enjoy sharing the family time, even if that includes germs!
Right now I am not doing too much in my village except listening, learn about my village, and practicing language.  It’s a really good thing my family is so patient with my language because not only do I still have a lot of vocabulary and grammar to learn, I also have not been able to hear well since I moved in!  It’s hard enough communicating in a new language, but then my left ear got blocked and I stopped being able to hear out of it, lol!  I was in touch with the med office here and they had me try ear drops, decongestants, but nothing was working.  They said it was probably either that something had crawled into my ear and couldn’t get out or I had an ear infection.  Unfortunately it went on long enough that I had to leave my site and travel into Dakar for them to check it out.  So I’m here in the med hut now and on my way to being better.  After the doctor cleaned enough wax out of my ear that he could see my eardrum he determined that I did have a little infection, so they put me on some antibiotics and I should have full use of both ears soon!  All the better to hear you with!
I’m looking forward to returning to my site tomorrow, I felt bad leaving so soon after just arriving, but life in the med hut is actually pretty nice and I cannot complain!  There is air conditioning, a refrigerator, the biggest grocery store I’ve seen in Senegal, and a shower!  I’m clean, comfortable, and well fed, what more could anyone ask for?


  1. So according to the weather tab next to your blog it's 79 degrees fahrenheit there. It's currently 30 degrees here in Korea >.<.

    Your village sounds awesome, as does your hut! It sounds like they're very excited to have you (and they should be - you sound like you're trying really hard not only as a farmer but also as someone trying to integrate themselves into the culture. I told you you weren't as bad at languages as you thought).

    I'm really glad you have an ear infection and nothing has decided to live in your ear.

    <3 Em

  2. Maria,

    I was just talking to Melanie Szulczewski. We were talking about our experiences in Africa and she told me you were in Senegal with the Peace Corps.

    I am Alan Griffith, in the Biology Department at UMW. I'm an RPCV, Senegal 82 - 84. I was in the fish culture program that is now defunct in Senegal.

    I lived just outside of Matam along the Senegal River. I did language training in Thies. My village language was Pulaar.

    It is always exciting to hear about people having similar experiences. I hope all goes well for you in Tambacomba. I visited once but did not stay long.

  3. Dr. Griffith,
    That is so neat. I have not been to Matam yet, although there are still volunteers there. I love Thies, it's such a progressive city. When I get back I would love to compare experiences since many things have changed but many are probably so similar!