I know I haven’t updated in a while, I’ve been in Mbour for over two weeks without internet access, but a lot has happened!
The first two weeks I was in Mbour involved a lot of language training and gardening. I got sick twice in the two weeks, but luckily it was only for 24 hours each time, so it could have been a lot worse! I also found out that I have a little mouse problem in my room. The first time I was in Mbour, I thought it was just a really big cockroach problem since I saw a lot of them and was getting pretty good at killing them, but I came to realize it was both a cockroach and a mouse problem. I found out the day I was recovering from being sick. As I was napping, I was woken up by what I thought was another cockroach running around under my bed. I went to kill it and as I was doing that I noticed that it was actually a mouse in-between my mattress and my bed frame! I went and got my mom and she killed it with a broom. Two nights later I was sleeping and was woken up by what felt like something on my legs. Sure enough, a mouse was running around on me in my bed. Unfortunately the mosquito net seemed to trap the scared mouse, so it just kept running around inside my bed. I had to grab it and throw it out! I had a difficult time sleeping afterwards. I now tuck my mosquito net under my mattress every night and I think it has kept all the unwanted visitors away thus far. I also hang up all my stuff so at least I know they won’t nest in my clothes.
Other exciting news, yesterday was the end of Ramadan, the Korite celebration. It consists of people dressing in their nicest, usually new clothes, and eating a lot of food! I had a complet made, although there was a bit of a mix up and my fabric and my friend’s fabric were switched. We’re going to try and have the outfits refitted to their correct owners but that will have to wait for another day. In the morning my father’s brothers all came over and we had a big breakfast of mano and noonoo: rolled millet balls and yogurt. It was delicious! Then all the men got ready to kill the ram we had bought. I decided not to watch, but I saw them skinning the ram afterwards and was actually pretty ok with the whole thing so I think I might watch next celebration. Then they divided up the meat and people returned to their respective homes. I helped to cook the meat for lunch, which we also killed a chicken for. I watched them pluck the chicken, which actually did not seem as hard as I expected, mostly just pouring hot water over the feathers and pulling. Lunch consisted of two dishes: a spaghetti with carrots, onions, raisins, spices, and the cooked ram (my family seemed to end up with most of the innards and very little of what we would normally eat in the States) as well as a macaroni dish with potatoes, onions, garlic, and the chicken. I think it was the first day here when I didn’t eat ANY rice! I have to say that I was pretty proud of myself for just eating and not worrying too much about what it was! After lunch I bought a watermelon and we all shared that along with some soda. Delicious food! Women did not finish getting ready in their new clothes until the end of the day, which made me expect the celebration to continue into the night, but it really didn’t. We kind of just ate leftovers for dinner and then went to bed. It was nice though, my family didn’t wake up at 4:30 a.m. to eat breakfast, and therefore I did not wake up then either (the lack of clocks here means that when you want everyone awake you have to bang on their doors and yell). Overall it was a good day and I’m glad I got to spend it with my family. I took some photos, which they were really excited about and I’ll try to post them somewhere soon.
My other big news is that I found out where my site placement is! It was a pretty funny way to find out, they blindfolded all of us and then took us to the basketball court at the training center, which has a giant map of Senegal painted on it. They led us to our respective sites with our blindfolds on and wouldn’t let us take them off until everyone was in place. Then we got packets with a few details about our sites. I will be going to a village called Missirah in the Tamba region in the southeast. It only has about 500 people living there and the market is only once a week in another village, conclusion: definitely rural. I’m very excited! It is a new site, although a volunteer who was placed in a nearby village has been working with a farmer from my village, and recommended that a volunteer be placed there to work more with him. So even though to some of the village I will be something completely new, some will be used to a volunteer being around. It also sounds like this farmer is very motivated, which should help make the whole experience more positive! I’m very excited about my placement. I get to visit a volunteer close to my site tomorrow and stay with her for the next few days. It will be nice to see what the area’s climate is like and what kind of environmental issues I will be dealing with. I hear that it’s hotter, but also has a little more topography than other parts of Senegal. It also looks like I’ll be near a few nature reserves, so I’ll have to explore those! Hopefully when I return from my site visit I’ll be able to give more specifics on the area. As of right now I’m just excited about the adventure of the relatively unknown!
And again I miss you all!